More Great Travel Movies

Way back in 2008, I created a list of ten of the best travel movies ever created for film. It’s a great list. Check it out. However, since then, there have been a lot of great travel movies made and, even on the first list, I neglected some others that inspired us to get out on the road or gave us film we could relate to. Therefore, in a long overdue update to my original list, here are nine more of some of the best travel movies to inspire you to get off the couch, pack your bag, and head to unknown lands:

Lost in Translation

Besides being a great movie in general, this movie takes you into the heart of chaotic Tokyo. Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson play two characters adrift in their hotel…at least, until they cut loose and explore Tokyo. These characters are suffering from a self imposed confinement and that bonds them together. Together, they escape into Tokyo, with its non-stop energy. The sights, the sounds, and energy overwhelms you and will have you booking a flight to Japan. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Whale Rider

I remember seeing this movie when it came out. It blew me away. The story follows a little girl in a Maori village and her struggle to get her grandfathers acceptance. But the real star here is Maori culture. The modern world of a Maori is spotlighted in an accurate portrayal that invokes wonder and sympathy. I met a member of the featured tribe while in New Zealand who said the film did a lot of good for his people. This movie sparked a fascination with Maori culture that is part of the reason why I went to New Zealand. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Lord of the Rings

Another New Zealand based movie, Peter Jackson’s award winning epic will leave you stunned with the diverse and beautiful landscape of New Zealand. From glaciers, to rivers, to mountains and forest, New Zealand’s beauty was the star of this movie. It launched the country’s modern tourist industry and made it one of the premier destinations to travel to for adventure seekers. Die hard fans can do Lord of the Rings tours. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Into the Wild

Based on a true story, this movie follows Christopher McCandless as he tries to shed his material life and get in touch with life and nature. After graduating from college, Christopher sets out on a road trip through the country before ending up in Alaska. Much of the story is based on second hand accounts, yet the movie is a poignant reminder that we all could simplify our lives a little bit and just enjoy living. It reminds us that travel is not about what we carry with us but about what we carry inside. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

In Bruges

Colin Farrell may have thought a life in Bruges was hell but the city provides a great back drop for this comedy. And I have to admit, until I saw this movie, I really didn’t know much about Bruges. Sure, I knew where it was and that it was famous but I’d never given much though to it. After this movie, I wanted to go to Bruges. It looked beautiful. (And, upon visiting there, I can confirm it is.) Bruges is a great destination for travelers who want to step back in time. This movie will have you including it in your next European adventure. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Under the Tuscan Sun

I don’t like Diane Lane chick flick movies and this movie is totally one of them. Girl feels lost in life, starts fresh, meets guy, everything works out. The only good chick flick is Love Actually. But I digress. This movie could start any actress because the real movie star here is Tuscany. Tuscany provides the stunning backdrop for this otherwise mediocre movie. This places lives up to all the hype that surrounds it and will make you want to leave home and buy a vineyard in some small Italian village. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Nowhere in Africa

A German movie that follows the true life story of a Jewish family who escapes the Nazis to run a farm in Kenya. The movie deals with how they adjust to their new life, and cope with the life they left behind. Anyone who has ever lived and adapted to a new culture will be able to relate. It’s not always easy and as this movie shows, it’s possible once you open yourself up. The movie is in German but subtitled in English. Besides being a great travel movie, it’s one of my favorite foreign language movies. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Crocodile Dundee

Not only did these movies launch the short career of Paul Hogan but they made everyone want to be an Aussie. Dundee was the MacGyver of the outback. While the movies gave a generation of people cliched notions of Australia, they also gave Americans a connection to the country. Like us, Aussies were free spirited pioneers with a love for the wilderness. While it’s cliche and exaggerated, Australians do share a love for nature and the movie inspired people to visit Oz. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

Up in the Air

I live in airport world. Maybe not as much as Ryan Bingham, George Clooney’s character, but when I saw this movie, I found myself relating too much to Ryan’s character. Though in some ways it has a happy ending, I found the movie to be a downer. I was depressed for hours afterwards. Because I see myself in Ryan’s lifestyle. He’s a man who feels at home in airports and planes and is constantly on the move. As he says, moving is living. The movie is a must watch for long term traveler as it brings up the sometimes mixed emotions we have about living in constant movement. [Buy this movie on Amazon.]

If you want any of these movies, please purchase through the links above! It helps support this website!

    • Matt

      AAAHHHH!!! How is The Art of Travel not listed on a blog of best TRAVEL movies?? Also, that American (The American or something) movie with Josh Jackson or Jack Joshson wasnt bad either…

  1. Ooh ooh ooh! I love travel movie posts. Probably because everyone has different ideas about what is considered a “travel movie”. Do they spotlight particular places to inspire travel? Are they framed to bring out the best/worse in a country? Do they show off culture as opposed to landscape? Or do they do all these things inadvertently?

    My list overlaps yours in a few places (Lost in Translation, In Bruges) but goes elsewhere too (Breathless, Monsoon Wedding). Wish I had included movie poster pictures tho. They look great! :)

    • Totally agree about Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Whenever I watch them, I want to travel to Vienna and Paris.

      Of these movies, Into the Wild made the biggest impression.

  2. I loved Under the Tuscan Sun as a travel movie, and watch it every year before I leave for Italy. I’m also a fan of Enchanted April (also Italy) and Sex and the City (New York and LA).

  3. That’s a good list Matt! I really want to check out Up In The Air.

    My favorite travel movie is actually my favorite movie (besides The Fox and The Hound) it’s called Somewhere In Time. It’s kinda old and has Christopher Reeves in it. It’s about The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and a love story that travels through time.

    I’ve always wanted to go but surprisingly I’ve haven’t made it up there yet.

    And yes I agree, besides the house, Under The Tuscan Sun sucked.

  4. That’s two “into the wild” recommendations I’ve got in just one weekend, ok I’ll go see it :)
    I could also relate to “Up in the air” and I like how the ending isn’t pure happiness like most of the garbage in Hollywood these days. It’s realistic and I did feel for the character, especially on his soliloquies about the familiarity of “home”.
    Some of the other ones aren’t really about travel and more about or take place in a particular location (Tuscany, Bruges, Tokyo, New Zealand etc.) with travel being little or no part of the story , so I personally wouldn’t include them in such a list.
    For example, a lot of people have been telling me recently that “PS I love you” has inspired them to go visit Ireland, but I definitely wouldn’t put that in the travel category myself…
    I didn’t see it in your other list either so I’d add:
    Before Sunrise – great story about fleeting travel romance; I agree with “nomadic chick” and I’m a guy 😉 I quite liked the sequel too (before sunset) since it shows that a lot of guys are genuinely way more romantic than girls. 😀
    Thanks as always Matt, consider it stumbled 😉

  5. Alouise

    Great post, though I gotta start watching more travel movies. The only ones I’ve see from this post is Into The Wild (also highly recommended) and The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas is another semi-travel movie that I love. Although the way Las Vegas was shown in the movie wasn’t how I experienced it when I was there. Of course I wasn’t on the same type of trip as the characters were. And Amelie always makes me want to go back to Paris and have crème brulée.

  6. I agree with all of your recommendations I’ve seen so far. This is a great list! There are two more movies I would add. ‘The Painted Veil’ captures the romance of China before the cultural revolution and showcases some of the most magnificent cinematography I’ve ever seen. The trailer alone will make you want to go see it ‘Touching the Void’ is another outstanding movie about climbing in Peru and the survival story is legendary in mountaineering circles.

  7. Fun list. I couldn’t even make it through the opening credits of Under the Tuscan Sun, though. (OK slight exaggeration, I made it through maybe 15 minutes…)

    As has been previously pointed out, you forgot Before Sunrise. You are, evidently, a man… I don’t know if that has anything to do with Before Sunrise fandom or not but…

    The Man Who Knew Too Much makes me want to go to Morocco and sing Que Sera Sera from the balcony of my hotel room, while Roman Holiday always ends with my scouring Craigslist for used Vespas.

    And any movie with Gael García Bernal reminds me that I should have been a Mexican. What a hottie.

  8. Sofia

    AWESOME list. I can’t tell you enough how much I love ‘In to The Wild’, and don’t even get me started on ‘Lost in Translation’ or ‘Whale Rider’. I can watch these films over and over.

    I didn’t know that Up In The Air has been released already, will go check it out now.

    Have you seen “The Darjeeling Limited”? If not, see it!!

  9. Thanks for the list! Shamefully, I haven’t seen any of these. I’m historically not much of a movie guy but I have been watching many more lately. I’ll add these to my already long list.

    Although not a travel movie at all, I recently saw “Revolutionary Road” and it is certainly a movie that can inspire travel. Short plot summary: 1950s New York City suburbanite yuppies making a lot of money but unhappy with the grind decide to do what they really want and move to Paris to start a new and exciting life.

  10. Lost in Translation is one of my favorite movies. I was two seconds away from going to Japan for a client and then things fell threw, I am so mad about it still.

  11. Seen most of these movies. In Bruges to me is just brilliance with a touch of hilarity. Call me sick! Just rented Up in the Air and have just heard that it speaks to the soles of road warriors and travelers. Great list Matt!

  12. Jeremy B

    I saw this list a while back and it inspired me to watch In Bruges a couple of weeks ago. An interesting, twisted, tongue-in-cheek humorous film but the views of the city were lovely. It inspired me to want to visit Belgium as well.

  13. Teja

    Thanks matt i love these movies. i’m very much impressed by the movie into the wild. please add some more movies like “into the wild”….

    • Cycy

      Great movie with real backpackers and their input on their travels. Loved it, I’m glad someone mencionned it.

  14. Rob

    Nice list Matt, those are indeed great movies!

    Just re-watched 180 Degrees South. Although it’s more of a documentary, I find it really inspirational and I can’t wait to get down to Patagonia!


  15. Look out for “the way”, it’s about the Camino de Santiago from France to Spain……great film and inspiring to have 5 weeks on the road with fellow travellers

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