Dave and I worked in the film business for over a decade, so we take our movie choices as seriously as our travel destinations. That’s why when choosing the Best Travel Movies, we both had a couple of very heated discussions.
When we choose a movie that inspires travel, we don’t take it lightly. The type of movies a person likes says a lot about them. So, we are putting ourselves out there and tackling the hard-hitting news of the travel world. We’re choosing the Best Travel Movies for those who have a yearning for wanderlust.
To rent or buy a movie right now, check out Amazon Instant Video
Our choices are probably very different than yours, so leave a comment and let us know what you think the best travel movies are.–
The Best Travel Movies to Inspire Wanderlust
Julie & Julia – Paris France
Not only does this movie star the great Meryl Streep and one of the most versatile actresses around, Amy Adams, this movie is about travel and blogging. It follows the life of Julia Child during her time in Paris and cuts throughout to present day in New York. Modern day follows Julie Powell, who blogged about cooking her way through the Julia Child Cookbook. Meryl Streep’s Julia loved Paris so much that she made you believe that it was the most desirable place on earth. This movie cannot be watched on an empty stomach, and you must have a fine glass of wine in your hand. It makes you crave French cuisine and a life of decadence in France. It is my favourite travel movie. Besides, Meryl Streep can do no wrong.
Rent it now on Amazon Instant Video!
More Meryl Streep
If you want another Meryl Streep vehicle that is often considered one of the best travel movies, you should try Out of Africa
Out of Africa takes place in a different time, but it captures the heart of Africa beautifully. Meryl Streep is a married baroness in love with big game hunter Robert Redford. Their love can never happen and is doomed to fail, but their chemistry is unmistakable. She falls in love with Africa and you will fall in love with it too. The cinematography is outstanding. It won 7 Oscars including Best Picture and yes, Best Cinematography.
Up in the Air – Airports and Hotels Across America
This movie is a film of contrasts. While it makes you love the idea of travel, it shows the emptiness that the life of a vagabond can lead to if you don’t stay grounded with your family and friends. I cannot go through airport security anymore without thinking of George Clooney and realizing just how disorganized I am. His character has travel down to a science. The truth is that while Dave and I may travel a lot, we are very disorganized. We have way too much in our carry on luggage, we always seem to leave some sort of unauthorized item inside (like nail clippers or an eye glass repair kit) and we are always misplacing our boarding pass. Ah, to be cool like George. Life would be good.
Rent or buy it on Amazon Instant Video
One Week (2008) – Road Trip Across Canada
No movie has made me want to explore a country more than One Week. The irony is that we have been to most of the stops on this road trip movie because it takes place in Canada. Starring Joshua Jackson of Dawson Creek and Fringe fame, One Week follows a young man driving a motorcycle across Canada after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. I didn’t want to see this movie because of its morbid subject, but it ended up being an uplifting and enlightening film. One Week is a love letter to Canada and a tribute to being alive. It’s in the middle of the pack here, but it’s my choice as the Best Travel Movie out there! (I don’t believe in counting down from 1-10)
Check out our list of best travel movies that are all about motorcycles
In Bruges – Bruges Belgium
Colin Farrell fell out of my list of favorite actors after the duds Miami Vice and Alexander, but when we watched In Bruges he made me realize why Hollywood loved him in the first place. When he constantly complained of hating Bruges as he and Brendan Gleeson took the gondola through the canals, I thought it was excellent writing and direction. The more he complained, the more you took in the surroundings and noticed just how picturesque Bruges is. As Brendan Gleeson took in the history and read the guide books admiring the city, Colin Farrell just kept talking about how much he hated Bruges, which made me love it more. He hated it as they looked out over the city from the clock tower, he hated sitting in the beautiful medieval square, and he hated going into a pub for a drink. The more he hated it, the more I wanted to go to Bruges. Rent or Buy In Bruges
Romancing the Stone – Colombia
Who didn’t fantasize about an adventure in Colombia after watching Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone? As a kid I always thought about the line “I need to get to Cartagena” and while I had no idea where Cartagena was, I knew it was exciting. I loved how Kathleen Turner transformed and started to become a confident and beautiful woman as she journeyed through the jungle of Central America. Michael Douglas was the epitome of rugged mysterious man, and Colombia was completely exotic. It wasn’t meant to be a travel movie, but it certainly was one of the best!
Once Upon a Time in Mexico – – Mexico
How sexy is this movie? The sequel to the excellent El Mariachi and Desperado, Once Upon A Time In Mexico ends the trilogy with Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayak, and Cheech Marin. This time Johnny Depp joins them for the ride. Even if you don’t care about the story line, just watching these beautiful people is worth the price of the ticket. Once Upon A Time In Mexico is a fantasy and it is a stereotype of Mexico, but it makes me think of the wild west days of lawlessness and living life on the edge. The scenery is gorgeous, the film is filled with cool style, and the music is fabulous. Oh yeah, it makes me want to go to Mexico and find my own Mexican Adventure.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain
Admit it, we all want to go to Spain and run into beautiful people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Barden. The Spanish are so much more in touch with their raw emotions. They live life with a passion that the rest of us don’t have. At least, that is what Vicky Christina Barcelona makes us think. Oh, how I wish that we all had rich relatives living in Barcelona, and that we could stay in their Mediterranean Villa and explore the architecture and culture of Barcelona. Vicky Cristina Barcelona definitely is an inspiring travel movie for all who want to travel to Europe.
Legend of Tarzan – Africa
The $180 million dollar budget makes sure to showcase the beauty of the African Savannah, the dense jungles, and the majestic wildlife. You feel as if you have entered the heart of Africa. Seriously, rent it, you’re going to like it a lot more than you think! You can’t go wrong when Samuel Jackson shows up as his companion, and the eye candy is perfect for both men and women. Women love Alexander Skarsgård and men can’t get enough of Margot Robbie.
Rent it on Amazon
A Good Year – Provence, France
Russel Crowe may be looking a little frumpy and I am not a fan of his wardrobe in the movie, but A Good Year made me want to go to Provence and live a simple life…on a multi million dollar vineyard estate. That’s reasonable, right? A Good Year makes life in Provence look like the garden of Eden and I want a piece of it. Everyone is beautiful, everyone is a wine connoisseur, and everyone is pure and good. Who wouldn’t want to go to the south of France after seeing A Good Year? Rent it now
Under the Tuscan Sun – Tuscany, Italy
For the romantics out there, this is one of the best travel movies. Diane Lane does a wonderful job in Under The Tuscan Sun and fulfills everyone’s ultimate fantasy. Wouldn’t you just love to buy a villa in Tuscany on a whim? She shows that getting away from it all and relocating to another country can fix everything. I’m not sure if that is true, but I do love the premise and everyone lives happily ever after. Gorgeous scenery, comedy, drama, and fun. And Guess What, you can download it on Amazon!
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – India
I love this movie. We always preach that you are never too old to try something new and you are never too old for travel. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of retirees who travel to India to live out their days at a crumbling retirement hotel. All mayhem and madness ensues as things can only in India. There’s romance, tragedy, and hope. It’s chock full of great actors including Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith. Rent it now
The Bucket List – Everywhere
With two of my favourite actors and a message to live life to the fullest, the Bucket List is one amazing movie. The phrase has been over used in recent years, but the message never gets old. Get out there and live your life. Be happy and make sure you leave this earth with no regrets. So, what are you waiting for? Start creating that Bucket List of items you’ve always wanted to do and start ticking them off. It feels amazing, trust me! Rent or buy it here!
Slumdog Millionaire – India
I loved this movie. We travelled to India in 2010 and it seemed to capture the true slums of India. Many of the rich cities are modern, but when traveling through rural India and the poorer areas, this is what it’s like. It’s heartbreaking, raw, and sometimes uncomfortable. But the people are welcoming and wonderful and you can feel the love in their hearts, just like the love in the heart of Jamal, the lead character of Slumdog Millionaire. Download it here on Amazon
Like our list of Best Travel Movies? You’ll love our best travel books recommendations!
Amelie – Paris
So, I liked this movie, but it wasn’t Dave’s cup of tea. I didn’t love it like everyone else. Most people say a best travel movie list wouldn’t be complete without it, so I caved and put it in. I did enjoyed the uplifting message of quiet Amelie helping the people around her in the lovely district of Montmarte in Paris. I also loved the sweeping scenes through Paris streets. If you love Paris, you can’t help but like Amelie. It’s overly sweet and optimistic and you have to be in the mood, but the scenes touring the streets of Paris alone are worth watching. So check it out!
Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Iceland, Greenland
I had to watch this movie twice before deciding I liked it. The first time around I was annoyed with all the long drawn out fantasy sequences that happen in Walter Mitty’s head. The second time I watched it I didn’t find it so bothersome. Once he gets to Iceland and Greenland, it really becomes a fun adventure. I loved revisiting places Dave and I had been and even though it wasn’t bang on accurate, they did capture a bit of life in the North. The ending was my favourite, but I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to download it to see what you think.
Planes Trains and Automobiles – US Road Trip
This is possibly Dave’s favourite movie of all time. He always references some funny scene from this John Candy/Steve Martin Classic. It’s an overland road trip from New York City to Chicago. Anyone who has ever driven cross country can relate to some of the shenannigans. Have you stayed in a cheap motel? You can relate. Ever come close to falling asleep at the wheel? You can relate. Have you ever sat beside someone that has made you incredibly uncomfortable? You can relate! Ever stare the devil in the face…okay, maybe you can’t relate. If you’re in the mood for a good heartfelt comedy, rent it today.
Raiders of the Lost Ark – Middle East, Asia, South America
I love Egypt, and Raiders of the Lost Ark captures the essence of Cairo. I feel like I am following Indy and Sallah, walking through the streets eating dates and sipping tea. Nothing brings out the wanderlust more than an Indiana Jones movie. Indiana Jones starts off in a booby trapped temple in Peru then heads back to the United States. The film then takes us from Nepal to Egypt to the Aegean Sea. Luckily, you always know where he goes because Steven Spielberg makes sure to show us a map whenever a plane takes flight. Rent it on Amazon
Tracks – Australia
I actually really enjoyed Tracks. It’s a film about a woman who walks across Australia with four camels and her pet dog. What’s more amazing is that it is based on a true story. What I really liked is how the lead character Robyn Davidson learns the skills needed to survive. She is visited by a photographer from National Geographic who shared her story and was led through the sacred lands of the Outback by an Aboriginal elder. Check it out on Amazon! It was also on Netflix when we watched it. You may be able to see it for free.
Into the Wild – USA
Based on the book by John Krakuaer, Into the World follows Christopher McCandless across America until he finally settles in Alaska. It tells the tale of the people he meets and touches along the way, all while chronicling the heartbreak of his family who cannot understand why he would donate his entire life’s savings to charity. What possesses a person to cut all ties with their family, hitch hike across the country, and then finally cut themselves entirely off from society, completely choosing to live in solitude in Denali National Park? Enjoy!
Everest – Nepal
This movie was a little abrupt as far as telling the story of what happened on Everest in 1996, but I loved it because it really did capture the spirit of Everest. Dave and I trekked to Everest Base Camp in 2010 and we were giddy watching the team gather in Kathmandu before flying to Lukla and finally starting their trek to Base Camp. They stopped at a monastery just like we did and stayed in tea houses. It was all so familiar. We didn’t go above base camp, but this film takes a dark turn as the events in 1996 was one of the worst disasters in Everest history. You can rent this movie made in Hollywood, or you can also check out the documentary. A crew was on the mountain in 1996 and not only documented the events but helped with the rescues.
Any Jason Bourne film or any James Bond. These two franchises take you around the world and make you want to be either filthy rich or a secret spy.
We’ll be updating this list regularly and we love finding new travel movies to watch. So, if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to give them a watch!
Tell me what you think are the best travel movies and we will compare notes.