Planning a trip guarantees fun and watching travel movies is by far the most pleasant preparation. I’ve watched plenty of movies, perhaps even too many for my own good. But I can’t help it, because they always give me tons of energy, inspiration and motivation.
It sounds silly that travel movies can inspire you to travel. But when you’re not sure to make that one trip or you need some persuasion to act on your dreams, they can be quite helpful. Travel movies can be used as a tool to give you that final push you need to go on your own adventures.
1| INTO THE WILD
Into the wild is by far my favorite travel movie. This story is based on the life of Chris McCandless. Well, Chris had a very promising future ahead of him. He graduated successful from the Emory University in Atlanta. Harvard seemed to be the next logical destination ahead a ‘successful’ career.
While his parents were planning his future, Chris had other things in mind. Just as me, Chris was looking for something else than just a classic life. He transferred all of his life savings to a charity and began to wander through the United States.
Eventually this journey was only a preparation for his life dream, living remote in Alaska. Once there, he experienced it was a lot harder to survive than he thought. Chris’ story inspired me a lot for my own journey. He let me realize something. That I wasn’t the only one in search for something else than a regular life.
I know how hard it is to break free from dogma to chase your dreams, and therefore Chris has my deepest respect.
2| The Bucket List
This feel-good movie with 2 of my favourite actors, Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson is one to put on your ‘to watch’ list. The story is quite simple, but deep at the same time. Two older guys in the same hospital room are terminally ill.
Because of their different personality, they don’t get along at first. But when Carter & Edward embrace their cancer diagnose, they help each other to fulfill all of their life goals before they kick the bucket.
I’ve seen the bucket list hype growing a lot the past few years. When I saw this movie for the first time a decade ago, I rarely heard about a bucket list. Nowadays, I come across such lists once a day at least. I guess Jack and Morgan are the founders of this hype. I can’t write for anyone else, but I created my bucket list directly after this movie. While the main point of the movie seems very simplistic, it is a lot harder to actually fulfill it.
We procrastinate our dreams all the time. And when it’s too late to live our dreams, we regret it. So, watch this movie and let it remember you that life is too short to have regrets.
3| Eat, Pray, Love
This script is about Elizabeth, a woman who has everything in life she can wish for. A husband, a house and a successful career. In spite of these things she isn’t truly happy. Elizabeth is confused and down about pretty much everything.
When she figured out that her marriage isn’t what she was expecting, she got divorced. Not sure about anything anymore, not even herself, she takes a life changing decision. In search of balance and happiness she goes on a trip around-the-world for a year.
The score (5,7/10) on IMDb is quite unfair. This kind of chick-flicks aren’t usually my thing neither. But this time I could appreciate it. Maybe because Julia Roberts’ her character has a lot in common with me. I used to be lost in this big world, when I was at rock bottom. I only dared to travel because I had nothing more to lose, but time.
I understand that ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ isn’t for everyone. But I don’t get all the negativity about this movie. There were a lot of stunning locations in it. The environment was well filmed, and I personally liked the meditation and spiritual parts in it. James Franco as rebound guy was a bad casting choice though.
4| THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ is about the life changing motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on. The movie is based on his memoirs, before he became the revolutionary person as we know him nowadays. Together with his friend Alberto, he drove over 14.000 kilometer during 8 months to explore south America.
This journey was the foundation of his incredible life. This film should be put in an own specific genre, as I never seen anything quite like this. I do remember that I put the DVD in the player and didn’t moved the following 2 hours. I had no idea what to expect from this movie, but it sure captivated me the entire playtime.
Even the duration wasn’t a problem at all. ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ sucked me so hard up in the story. I had the feeling I was riding my own motorcycle and was experiencing the whole journey next to them.
The movie highlighted the fact that traveling can broaden up your horizon. Nothing is so confrontational as traveling and relying on yourself. When you travel a long time this way, your whole perspective about life can & will change.
‘Tracks’ is another incredible inspiring true-life story. This time it’s about Robyn Davidson who walked and walked as I can imagine through the deserts of Australia. This young lady covered over 2735 kilometers with only 1 loyal dog and 4 camels.
While the movie was pretty good, it didn’t blow me away. Not surprising though, as it’s hard to film only deserts and sand. No one could ever be a better fit than Mia Wasikowska to play Robyn’s character. It was the first movie where I saw Mia in it, and I must say, she is a pretty solid actress.
I guess all travelers & explorers need to be a bit crazy. She was definitely a patriot in this way of traveling. I can’t do anything but respect Mrs. Davidson for what she did. I can’t even imagine the things she had to overcome to achieve this journey.
All of the sacrifices, frustrations and disappointments. But she always kept pushing & believing, even when the rest of the world said she wasn’t able to complete this journey. And don’t forget the worst part, the camel training. (ieuw!)
If ‘Tracks’ won’t convince you that you’re able to achieve your travel dreams, nothing will.
6| I Dreamed Of Africa
I noticed many people found ‘Out of Africa’ better than ‘I dreamed of Africa’. I saw that movie as well, but Meryl Streep didn’t work out for me. Both stories are somewhat similar.
Anyhow, after a car crash where Kuki lost some friends in it, she decided to change her life dramatically. She marries Paolo, a man she hardly even knows. Together with her son, the fresh married couple moves to Kenya to live the dream and to face the problems that come along with the dream.
The reason why this movie made the list, is actually not so much for the movie itself as it is for my dream. I daydreamed a thousand times of living in Africa. This place has something majestic and mysterious at the same time. The landscapes, wildlife and mountains are a just like garden of Eden for me. But fair is fair, the movie did not captivate me the entire time.
Mainly because I was in love with the landscape settings and the wildlife in it. So, the script itself didn’t had all of my attention. I do remember that the family adapted perfectly into the culture. Which is the only way to make it worthwhile to live in another country.
I never understood why you would move or go on a vacation to a country that you’re not interested in at all.
7| Under The Tuscan sun
I added this one for all the hopeless romantics among us. Frances accepted an invitation for a 10 day during trip in Italy. Recently divorced, she bought spontaneously a villa in Tuscan in hope everything would get better. During the renovation of her new bought villa, she gets fully immersed in the culture of Tuscan.
I can’t remember any other movie that teased my senses so much as ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. I was more alive during this movie than I was before and after. Apart from the cheesy love story this was a big hit for me. I could feel the kindness, happiness, freedom and joy from my TV screen toward my couch.
BTW: Diane Lane is such a lovely lady to watch!
Sometimes you need to take some risks to get forward in life. While it’s not easy to leave a lot behind, it is often rewarding to move to a place where you can grow as a person. Tuscan in this movie is the perfect example of how a city should be.
Nothing beats a city where everyone knows each other and get along. Instead of living aside each other, living with each other will give you so much more joy. It’s one of the things that makes a house feel like a home.
Do not forget, the best memories come from the most spontaneously & unexpected adventures.
8| THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
Walter has always been shy and never experienced any kind of adventure. Only in his daydreams, he was the ultimate wanderer of the craziest adventures. When Walter his job as administrator of photo-negatives is threatened, he takes action to prevent to get fired. In search of the symbolic lost photo negative, he finally experiences the adventure of his life.
‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ must be praised for the outstanding beautiful landscape settings. No other movie comes even remotely close to the environments of Iceland & Greenland. It’s at the same level of some of the best National Geographic documentaries.
Iceland itself is a reference for the ‘perfect’ country. Protecting the wildlife, respecting nature and creating small towns for people who knows each other and get along. A safe heaven where there is little to no crime at all.
The movie itself reminded me of all of the dreams we have when we’re a child. How everything seems possible back then. And somewhere along the line, all of those dreams seem to get lost on the way.
The fantasy scenes did not bother me, as I have plenty of daydreams myself. Not as much and fanatic as Mitty, but still. It’s good to daydream, as daydreams are the start of everything.
But in the end, you need to wake up and live the dream. Because those daydreams are nothing compared to the real deal.
9| The Beach
When Richard is backpacking through Thailand, he met a drug addicted traveler named Daffy. Daffy claimed to found paradise on earth. Richard, who left the United States in search for risks, danger and beauty is immediately being triggered. The same night Daffy killed himself, and left a sort of treasure map behind with the route to it. Is that paradise a hoax or not?
I’ve never been to the filming location of ‘The Beach’ but it surely does like a paradise. The problem with a discovered paradise, is that it doesn’t stay a paradise for long because of mass tourism. Mass tourism already did ruin a lot of trips for me. As it won’t let you absorb the impressions as much as when you’re alone.
I’m quite sure there are still some undiscovered paradises as Phi Phi Leh. When I do discover one, be sure I will not tell you about it. (Evil Laughter)
‘The beach’ is perfect to watch and dream at the same time. Especially the first part. The second part felt like another movie. And for the fans among us, Leonardo Di Caprio is acting quite a lot without a t-shirt 😉
10| Seven Years In Tibet
One last movie inspired by a true story, this time of Heinrich Harrer. This mountaineer heads out to conquer a Himalayan mountain. Because of a war, he gets captured. He eventually knows to escape with someone else.
On the run, he ends up in Lhasa. In this holy city lives the Dalai Lama which he eventually meets, not knowing it will both change their lives.
If you are traveling with an open heart & soul, then each encounter can make a difference in your life. Sometimes complete strangers can become your best friend in only a few days.
I always get angry when I think about Tibet. Why the hell is a country with an own culture and leader still not independent? It has more local culture than most European countries nowadays.
While travel movies are a good time killer, nothing is better than actual traveling. So, do not only watch movies and daydream about your travels. Turn off the TV, and make the first step towards an incredible journey.
Believe you me, you won’t regret it! And perhaps Hollywood will make a movie about your life story in the future. Who will say?
What other travel movies am I missing in this list?
Also feel free to share your thoughts & opinions on the travel movies that made the list.