Going abroad? Good choice! You’ve bought the plane ticket, your itinerary is set and you’ve done some research on your destination. Now comes the worst part: waiting. Count down the days till departure with these ten movies and TV shows that take you to faraway places. Even if you aren’t planning a trip right now, this list will jump-start your wanderlust from the comfort of your couch. The next steps are up to you.
1. On the Road
Whether you’ve read the 1957 Jack Kerouac classic or not, this film will set your road tripper spirit on fire. It’s based on Kerouac’s travels around the United States in the late 1940s and how he became a prominent Beat Generation figurehead. So-called “beatniks” rejected the conventional narrative of the time and advocated for a bohemian lifestyle. If you appreciate counterculture, this film is a winner.
Transport yourself into the whimsical world of one adorable Parisian woman. See Paris through Amélie’s eyes, from Montmartre to Rue Lepic, as she tries to reconnect with a guy who catches her fancy. Her attempts to ask him out are above and beyond what most of us do for love (hey, it’s a movie after all), but it’s still enamoring to watch. Amélie’s quirky personality and shy nature shine through her inner dialogue that she shares with the viewer. It might be too sweet for some, but you will still enjoy the gorgeous fairy-tale-like cinematography and the humorous traveling garden gnome subplot (my favorite part).
3. Before Sunrise
Love at first sight. Does it exist? Who knows. But who doesn’t dream about going abroad and falling in love for a night? In this classic film starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, two young adults do exactly that. They meet while traveling and decide to spend the day (and night) together before parting ways. It’s romantic, witty, and you’ll savor the beautiful backdrop of Vienna.
4. The Motorcycle Diaries
An intimate snapshot into Che Guevara’s life, this action-packed film is also a coming-of-age story that spans across 1950s South America. Based on Guevara’s actual trip diary, we learn how the injustices he witnesses on the trip, mostly those of impoverished social classes, shape him into the revolutionary leader he became. Beautifully filmed and written, this is one you don’t want to miss.
5. Into the Wild
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, this film might break your heart. In 1992 24-year-old McCandless set out in the Alaskan wilderness to escape modern society, taking little more than 10 pounds of rice, a .22 rifle and some books with him. We all long for freedom at some point, but this film begs the question: at what cost? It got me thinking that sometimes we forget that everything we long for lives inside of us already. Freedom is essential, but it’s the connections with those around us that make life special.
6. BBC Planet Earth
This stunning documentary will transport you around the globe from oceans to jungles and everything in between. Each episode is 45 minutes long and will make you want to get out there and explore the world. If you can, watch the episodes in HD, as you don’t want to miss the saturated colors and amazing details (water droplets on leaves never looked so beautiful).
7. Y Tu Mamá También
Road trips can be messy affairs. Two teenage guys and one woman embark on a road trip to discover a hidden beach. This sensual coming-of-age film takes us along their crazy ride through Oaxaca, Mexico. Drama ensues along the way as they come to terms with their feelings for one another and the consequences of past actions. It’s a bit like a daytime soap at times, without the bad acting. We also get a glimpse of this beautiful but struggling region of Mexico, where over 76% of its inhabitants live in extreme poverty.
8. Expedition Happiness
Less is more. That’s the motto one young German couple adopts when they renovate an American school bus and drive it from Alaska to Mexico. Watch them redefine the meaning of home as they document life on the road, capturing untainted North American wilderness along the way. The couple is no longer together, but that doesn’t ruin the hipster magic spell this documentary casts.
9. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
A must-see featuring the late Anthony Bourdain, this award-winning show is a true gem. Bourdain’s brilliant sarcasm is meet with heartfelt enthusiasm as he travels around the globe, uncovering a smorgasbord of culture and cuisine. There are 11 seasons of this show to get through, more than enough to inspire you for your next adventure. Rest in peace, Tony.
10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
If you choose just one from this list, make it this one. I had zero expectations for this film, and it kinda blew me away. Ben Stiller’s character is the classic, lovable underdog, and you’ll sympathize with him right away. Being an introvert, I relate to him struggling to express feelings and retreating into his own world. This film masterfully mixes reality with fantasy, tapping into those “What If” thoughts I think many of us have. It celebrates being brave and taking ownership of your life by turning dreams into reality. There’s an epic longboarding scene in Iceland that gets your pulse racing and will have you running to the nearest skate shop.