It’s film time again! I’ve written about films that will inspire you to fall in love with London, England, and Scotland, and now I want to open it up to the wider world and write about travel films. There are so many great movies that have inspired me to plan everything from a weekend getaway to an epic journey, and I want to share that inspiration with you today.
The nice thing about films is that even if they’re not about travel they can still spark the desire for adventure. Every James Bond movie I watch makes me want to go to the places he spies from, and the Bourne franchise makes me feel the same way.
The travel films that have made my list are ones that have had an impact on me personally and influenced my passion for seeing the world. I hope they do the same for you.
Being from California, I have to start my list with Wild. Not only is Cheryl Strayed’s story of walking 1,100 miles up the west coast of the US inspirational, but the film also has oodles of footage of spectacular scenery in my home state (I’m not biased at all).
The shots of the Pacific Crest Trail inspired me to take a trip back to California to go hiking in Yosemite a couple years ago, and it was everything I hoped it would be. If you love the outdoors, this movie is a great one for inspiration.
2. Eat Pray Love
I read the book of Eat Pray Love when I first moved to London and it inspired me to travel to Rome, India, and Bali before the film even came out (and I did). But when the movie debuted, seeing those three places on screen made me even more eager to travel back to them.
Something about Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey of recovery and self-discovery by eating her way through Rome, finding inner peace in India, and falling in love in Bali made me want to follow in her footsteps. If you’re in need of some self-care, this is one of the great travel films that will inspire you.
3. The Darjeeling Limited
Speaking of India, if there’s one film that inspired me to travel there it was The Darjeeling Limited. Watching the three brothers travel by train through the Indian countryside made me want to jump on a plane and join them in the temples, towns, and landscapes they journeyed through.
In reality, I booked a trip to India the following year and traveled by train through Rajasthan. The trains weren’t nearly as glamorous as the film suggested they would be, but it was still a great adventure. If you’re interested in visiting India, this film will push you to book your trip.
4. Before Sunset
As a teenager I had a celebrity crush on Ethan Hawke. Even though it was a thing of the past when Before Sunset came out, I still knew I wanted to see the film.
And I’m glad I did. The footage of Paris is beautiful, and Jesse and Celine’s stroll through the city and along the Seine shows it at its best. If you love Paris (or love, for that matter), this is one of the top travel films to watch.
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
There’s something about a Wes Anderson movie that inspires me to travel. From The Royal Tenenbaums’ New York to the Moonrise Kingdom’s summer camp, I find myself longing for adventure every time I see his movies (hence my mention of The Darjeeling Limited).
The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception. This film was partly shot in Karlovy Vary, a spa town in the Czech Republic that I visited when I studied abroad in Prague. Not only does the film make me want to go back to to Bohemia, but also to the golden age of grand hotels. If you love that period of history, this movie is for you.
6. L’Auberge Espagnol
Speaking of study abroad, L’Auberge Espagnol is one of the best travel films to inspire people to cross borders for education. The story of a French student who moves to Barcelona to learn Spanish, this movie covers all the life-changing experiences that studying overseas brings.
I loved watching it after my experiences studying in Nice and Prague, and really enjoyed the shots of Barcelona. It’s one of the great travel films to watch if you want to be inspired to study overseas or revive memories of when you did.
7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Indiana Jones franchise has done more to inspire me to travel than almost any other set of films. I loved watching them as a child and seeing all the places this archaeologist-turned-rescuer-of-antiquities went.
If there’s one Indiana Jones movie that sparked my desire for adventure, it was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The scenes where he tracks down the Holy Grail in Petra inspired me to travel to Jordan, and I visited three years in a row after I moved to London.
Walking through the Siq and seeing the ruins through the crack was every bit as amazing as I hoped it would be, and I felt like Indy the whole time. If you love adventure, this is one of the best travel films to watch.
8. Under the Tuscan Sun
It’s hard not to want to visit Tuscany, but if there’s one movie that made me want to travel there even more it was Under the Tuscan Sun. The story of an American divorcée who buys a villa in Tuscany to start life over again, it has beautiful footage of this part of Italy.
From golden countryside to charming towns, it’s hard not to fall in love with Tuscany as she falls in love with her new beau. If you want to travel to Italy, this film will convince you to book your trip without delay.
No movie inspired me to visit Paris like Amelie. This sweet story of a French girl who secretly orchestrates the lives of those around her has great shots of Montmartre and other parts of Paris.
After seeing it I knew I wanted to spend more time in the French capital, and I ended up doing a summer internship there two years later. If you want Parisian inspiration, this is where to find it.
10. March of the Penguins
I had never thought about traveling to Antarctica before I watched March of the Penguins. But following the journey of the emperor penguins and seeing the glacial scenery around them inspired me to want to visit.
I still haven’t made it (I got as far as Chile’s Punta Arenas once and saw the penguins in Seno Otway), but it’s a goal to get there someday. If you want some South Pole expedition inspiration, this is one of the best travel films to watch.
11. The Hundred-Foot Journey
If I had to choose between French cuisine and French countryside, I would struggle. Thankfully The Hundred-Foot Journey combines the two. The family of an Indian immigrant and self-taught cook opens a restaurant in a French village. In doing so, they make an enemy of the local proprietress of an acclaimed restaurant 100 feet away.
The story twists and turns while showing footage of both delicious food and scrumptious countryside along the way. If you love eating and travel, this film is for you.
There are a lot more travel films on my to-watch list, and I look forward to getting more inspiration from movies like Out of Africa as I work my way through it. I hope you found inspiration in my favorite movies. If you have recommendations for others to watch I would love to hear them.
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