There are different kinds of travel movies – the ones where the main person travels from place A to place B and usually learns an important lesson along the way. Then, there are the silver screen adventures where the hero(ine) just kind of hangs out in a new, exotic place. For now, we’ll focus on movies where the journey is the destination and look at travel movies that inspire you to pack your bags and travel the world.
Bill Murray, as a movie star way past his glory days, and Scarlett Johansson, as a young woman who feels a little lonely, meet in Tokyo. The hustle and bustle of the mega city gets plenty of space in Sofia Coppola’s gem, and you guessed it right, everyone’s a little lost in translation – both literally and figuratively. All of this comes with an amazing soundtrack worth listening to even if you haven’t watched the movie. Oh, and let’s not forget that iconic goodbye scene.
This is actually the first part of a trilogy, and you definitely want to pick up Before Sunset and Before Midnight as well. Juliette Binoche’s and Ethan Hawke’s characters meet on a train, decide to get off in Vienna together, and the rest is history. The trilogy takes place over several decades and in different countries – it’s the perfect movie about our journeys in life, and the eternal question if there’s such a thing as a soul mate.
Based on a true story and an excellent book, Into the Wild shows what can happen when wanderlust takes over: the movie follows Chris McCandless who leaves everyone and everything behind to hitchhike to Alaska to live in the wilderness. I don’t want to spoil anything, but McCandless is exactly as wild and crazy as you expect – and even though the adventure is not always as romantic as it sounds, the protagonist can teach us a thing or two about following our dreams.
Another movie based on real-life events: Ernesto “Che” Guevara (yes, that one!) and his friend, Alberto Granado, travel through South America on a motorcycle. The movie is a visual masterpiece and full of breathtaking beauty and dramatic moments. The story was truly life-changing for the two adventurers, and it’s safe to say that this particular journey shaped history like few other road trips.
5. The Way
Martin Sheen’s character, Tom, tries to get over the sudden loss of his son by going on a pilgrimage on El camino de Santiago: At first, Tom only travels to Spain to retrieve his son’s remains, but then he decides to walk the spiritual trail himself. The Way takes us on a journey through a beautiful landscape while tackling themes we all know too well – from tragic losses to unexpected friendships and the search for what’s important in life.
A movie about a an old man, a flying house, and a talking dog might not be the first choice that comes to mind when talking about travel movies. Yet, Pixar’s Up shows us most charmingly that movies about having the courage to make your travel dreams come true can also be animated. Up is an inspiring tale about exactly that – making travel dreams a reality, no matter how old you are.
Walking seems to be the a good way to get over a tragic life event: this time, we follow Reese Witherspoon’s Cheryl Strayed on the over 2000 miles long Pacific Crest Trail. The movie is based on a book written by Strayed herself who more or less spontaneously decided to take on the adventure of a lifetime. We follow her for over 90 days and 1,1000 miles as she’s trying to beat all the odds – no previous hiking experience and a giant backpack included – and get her life back on track.
Warning: This film might make you want to quit whatever you’re doing to go on a backpacking tour around the world. There are people who always talk about traveling, then, there are people who do – and not just for a week or two, but for months or even years. The documentary portraits long-term and/or solo world-travelers who own as much as their backpack can hold and are guided only by endless wanderlust.
9. L’auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment)
If you’re thinking about studying abroad – and we can help you with that – this movie will be right up your alley. Xavier, a French guy moves to Barcelona to learn Spanish. He shares an apartment with six people from all over Europe and international hilarity ensues. L’auberge Espagnole shows in a most entertaining way how friendships overcome language barriers and how one year abroad can change your whole life. (Amen to that!)
After the death of their father, three brothers travel through India by train. They have a lot of literal and proverbial baggage, so get ready to learn a life (and family) lesson or two, while enjoying beautiful landscapes. Like every other Wes Anderson movie, The Darjeeling Limited is full of unique characters and charming quirkiness.