I have watched a lot of travel movies over the years, besides binge watching food-related movies (more about that in another post).
This is a list of my favorite travel movies and why each of these films inspired me to travel and dive into my adventures. None of the movies are the same and they all have a lot of meaning, are intensely realistic and they will all give you something to think about.
My favorite Travel Movies – inspiring but also realistic:
All of these travel movies shaped my idea of traveling and are very realistic. I am not going to sugar coat anything here. This is not just to dream of a world which doesn’t exist, to play tourist in a resort in Barbuda, but to actually travel, explore the world, take risks and have real adventurous.
I watched some of those travel movies 20 times and you will know a few, others are less known and true gems.
Not all movies are pink and beautiful stories, some are very realistic and dark but that’s the reality after all and as a traveler, I like to know about the dangers that can loom over me if I don’t take care. If you feel the same way, then you will find this recommendation of travel movies useful.
The post will be kept current with new exciting film discoveries. So without further ado.
The Way Back
The Way Back is the story told by Polish men. He, a group of men and a teenage girl escaped one of the deadly concentration camps of the Soviet Era in Siberia Russia in 1942. The group survived the rough Siberian snowstorms and cold without food and shelter while running away towards freedom. Their way took them through the endless Gobi dessert and they even crossed the Himalayas.
The story is based on Sławomir Rawicz’s memoir, the long walk published 1956. He claimed to have traveled all the way back, however, the story might have been a lie. Yet a British officer in Calcutta India interviewed 3 men who claimed to have escaped from a war camp in Siberia. Somebody did the travel 4000 miles by foot! The story itself inspired many explored over the past centuries.
This is not one of the classical travel movies, but if you are into adventures, then it’s going to suck you in from the beginning to the end.
7 Years in Tibet
Seven years in Tibet is a classic. It’s the story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian national, who was a famous mountain climber. He and Aloise Aufschnaiter went on an expedition to the Himalayas in India but the second world war broke out and the Austrians were captured by British (who ruled India at the time). They escaped and moved from India to Tibet.
Most of us have seen this movie. I have watched it countless times and I can watch it happily another 100 times. 7 years in Tibet is a major reason why I travel.
Baraka and Samsara
Baraka and Samsara are two Audio Visual Movies by the same maker. Baraka was the first one, Samsara followed. These are different kinds of movies, nobody talks but you, as a viewer, immerse yourself in the film and the music. It’s just beautiful and so honest at the same time. It’s hard to explain it in words. Watch the movie to get fully inspired to travel around the world, to explore landscapes people, cultures, animals and the soul of our planet earth.
A couple goes on vacation to Marocco. A Mexican Nanny takes the kids she is taking care of to her native town in Mexico. Two boys in Marocco get a rifle from their father to take care of the herds so to keep jackals away. A girl in Tokyo is coping with the loss of her mother and the city. All people are interconnected and it’s a dramatic story.
This movie is about the fact that we are more connected with each other, across the seas and countries, then we see and understand. Now this movie is not completely about travel per se, but it has a global perspective of a different kind and will get you thinking.
As the name suggests this travel journey is about a motorcycle road trip. But it’s not an ordinary story, but the one of Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado. Back in the 50s they traveled across the South American continent with what they had on them and a thirst to discover the truth. This adventure shaped the idea of the young men profoundly and turned him into the figure we know today as Che Guevara.
The movie is in Spanish with English undertitel.
The beach is one of the classic travel movies and most probably you have seen it already but I suggest that you watch it again if you plan on a backpacking trip to South East Asia, India or if you want to play the temporary beach Hippie and go to a rainbow village. The movie beautifully reminds us that a paradise cannot remain paradise forever.
Things tend to go bad in this movie but the beach has definitely inspired a whole generation of Millenials (including myself) to travel more. Thank you Leo!
The Darjeeling Limited
Three brothers meet up in a train in India, a year after their father’s death. They all have issues and all three don’t particularly seem to like each other but things are about to change because they want to be brothers again and each one of them has a particular character and story.
The movie is quirky but has style. It’s eye candy with the color combinations and way things have been filmed. If you like movies such as the Budapest Hotel (which by the way is another great movie), then this is for you.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
In a nutshell, Walter Mitty is working for the Times taking care of the photo negatives and he is about to lose his job due to changing times, a new manager and the magazine is about to publish its last print magazine. He is the kind of person who lives happily in his bubble, not getting out of his comfort zone, traveling only from his home to work and back. A Photographer, who has been appreciating Walter’s know-how, leaves him a pack of negatives and the picture for the front page is supposed to be amongst them, but it’s not. To save the say Walter goes on an adventure to find the Photographer because, well, the guy is not into phones and always moving across the globe.
One of the most magical travel movies. Totaly unrealistic but beautiful and that’s why it has earned it’s place here. If you want to get inspired and want to dream, then you watch this movie! As a side note, I am sure Iceland gained in popularity as a travel destination thanks to this movie.
A couple of friends are having the time of their life in Amsterdam when they get locked out of their hostel. Because of this situation they trust and make friends with a guy who tells them about a place in Slovakia where the village girls are crazy for American boys. They go there and well,… certain things happen. I am just going to add, it’s a horror movie. Not for the faint-hearted.
The movie reminds you and teaches you the following: When you travel you need to remember that you are in another country and that you should take care of your actions and not trust everyone blindly. This movie is not for the weak, this one is to remind you of what can or may happen. This is to burst your bubble because you need to understand the world is not just all good but that this shouldn’t stop you from traveling. Just take care of yourself. For example, never leave your drink in a bar unattended, anywhere in the world!
In July is a known German movie. Daniel travels on a turbulent trip from Hamburg to Istanbul to finally meet the women he loves. The story is comical and entertaining all along because Daniel is rather shy but determined to take the road trip, yet along the way, he connects with a hitchhiker called July.
Crazy unexpected things happen. Romantic, odd situations and a real roadtrip journey with a great ending!
Youngsters from different origins take a backpacking trip to Brazil and get stuck because their bus breaks down. They end up on a small beach partying all night. But the fun is sucked away when some of the travelers go missing and they end up without passports and money.
A dark movie, no doubt, but it reminds you of the dangers. Some of you will say that these are exaggerated but I beg to differ! The world is not always sugar-coated, just accept it, take care and be smart when you travel and move on to travel peacefully. Some travel movies are meant to teach us a lesson before it happens to us.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The best exotic Marigold Hotel is a quirky movie about 7 elderly British nationals who chose to retire to a hotel in Jaipur India. Yet, nothing is as it was advertised and on their arrival, these different personalities with various backgrounds get to discover something essential about themselves, in their own time.
I didn’t really think the movie was something for me as it seemed rather slow but I really got hooked because of the way sometimes things can turn out. Retirement can be a journey too in another country.
Tomb Raider Movies
Yes, Tomb Raider is action packed but Lara Croft travels quite a bit in her movies and I always felt a bit inspired as a young girl by watching the movies when I wasn’t playing the game! The first Tomb Raider takes you to England, Ice Land, Hong Kong/China and to Angor Wat in Cambodia. The second, the cradle of live, will bring you closer to Greece and Kenya. The newest Tomb Raider takes us to South Africa.
I imagine young girls will enjoy these movies mostly because it empowers us maybe to see another perspective and that we can have adventurous on our own (not like Lara’s but at least some adventurous).
I didn’t add certain movies on purpose because I didn’t like them. For example, the bucket list, eat pray love, under the Tuscan sun, into the wild.
Dear Reader, what do you think of my collection of travel movies? Do you agree?
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comment section further below!