- Into the Wild (2007)
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
Director: Sean Penn
Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden
2. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
This awe-inspiring movie is a dramatization of the motorcycle trip of Che Guevara before he became the iconic Latin American revolutionary. Guevara (Gael Bernal) and his friend Alberto “Mial” Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna, Guevara’s real-life second cousin) climb atop a motorcycle and ride across South America for eight months and over 14,000 kilometers. The trip inspired the rest of Guevara’s incredible life. The movie will inspire you to learn more about the incredibly beautiful continent.
Director: Walter Salles
Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo De La Serna, Mia Maestro, Mercedes Moran
3. The Beach (2000)
Vicenarian Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss. Excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it. This is one movie that shows Leo before he got that renowned dadbod, showing him swim shirtless in the crystal clear waters of Ko Phi Phi Lee, this one promises to be quite a treat in more ways than one. Plus, its one by the famous Danny Boyle.
Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel York, Patcharawan Patarakijjanon, Virginie Ledoyen
4. The Way (2010)
A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself. It is a beautiful & inspiring tale about a father walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago trail to honor his recently dead son. The experience is eye opening and an emotional one for him as he is forced to make friends with complete strangers and examine his own life as he makes the 800 km journey. Plus, it features a very eclectic mixture of characters, each one walking the path for their own personal reasons.
Director: Emilio Estevez
Stars: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen
5. 180o South (2010)
The film follows adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. This one is basically a documentary that follows the adventure of a group of friends as they travel to Patagonia in the spirit of their heroes. They pack their surfboards and climbing gear as they sail and drive along the South American coast, learning about the losing battle against industrialization and the destruction of the natural world. Modern commercial interests fueled by growing human consumption of disposable goods is ruining the planet, and the movie shows some really brave people trying their best to stop it. The movie’s beautiful scenery & fantastic soundtrack mix together with a strong message and travel adventure to create a true work of art.
Director: Chris Malloy
Stars: Yvon Chouinard, Doug Tompkins, Keith Malloy, Alicia Salome Acuna Ika
6. Wild: (2014)
This movie is a chronicle of one woman’s 1100 mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy. Reese Witherspoon donned a pair of ill-fitted hiking boots and a giant backpack for her role in this movie as Cheryl Strayed, and she goes about trekking along the 1,100 mile long Pacific Crest Trail after the devastating loss of her mother. The book is based on a best selling 2012 novel by Strayed by the same name. Cheryl crosses the dusty Mojave, crazy forests, snowy fields and muddy trails, losing toenails but gaining mental clarity or at least self acceptance along the way.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffman, Michiel Huisman
7. One Week (2008)
This movie chronicles the motorcycle trip of Ben Tyler as he rides from Toronto to Tofino, British Columbia. Ben stops at landmarks that are both iconic and idiosyncratic on his quest to find meaning in his life. Ben is a school teacher, and this journey is as fascinating as it is interesting.
Director: Michael McGowan
Stars: Joshua Jackson, Peter Spence, Marc Strange, Gage Munroe
8. Tracks (2013)
A young woman goes on a 1700 mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with four camels and her faithful dog. Standing in for real life writer Robyn Davidson, Mia Wasikowska travels across the breathtaking landscape of Western Australia. Her occasional human visitors include a National Geographic photographer, an indigenous Australian elder named Mr. Eddy who guides her through sacred lands and various tourists who come to gawk at the so-called Camel Lady. Davidson’s solo trip was beyond the pale for a woman in the 70s, but it is incredibly inspiring today.
Director: John Curran
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Lily Pearl, Philip Dodd
9. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing about life, friendship, sex, and of course, each other. The teens are ruled by raging hormones and a mission to consume exotic substances. And then they meet the 28 year old Luisa, and both do fall in love with them as they traverse through a road trip.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Stars: Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Ana Lopez Mercado
10. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other. The brothers are wealthy and spoiled, they haven’t spoken to each other in a year and the tip would hopefully help them bond. Incidentally, they all suffer from depression and pop pain killers like candy. The movie is hilarious and very beautifully shot. It would tempt anyone to visit India for sure.
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan
11. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
This is an incredibly beautiful and funny movie about the people and animals who live in Antartica. The individuals that work at the National Science Foundation Research Station are full of character and more are permanent world travelers. Even if you’ve seen Discovery channel shows about Antarctica, this is totally different and fresh.
Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland, Stefan Pashov, Doug MacAyeal
12. The Bucket List (2007)
Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos to check before they die. Undoubtedly, this is one hell of a tearjerker, heart-warmer movie. Above all, the movie reminds you that life is too short and there’s miles to go before you die.
Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Beverly Todd
13. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
When the company he works for goes into downsizing and begins firing employees, Walter and his co-workers’ jobs get threatened. Eventually, Walter sets out on a global journey instead of usual zoning out escapades, and this journey soon turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined, only to realize that what he was looking for, was within himself.
Director: Ben Stiller
Stars: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Jon Daly, Kathryn Hahn
14. Out of Africa (1985)
In 20th century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate lover with a free spirited big-game hunter. Starring the very talented Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, this one is based on the autobiographical novel by Isak Dinesen. The movie is as epic as the doomed love affair between two very different people.
Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen
15. Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara (2011)
Three friends decide to turn their fantasy vacation into reality after one of them becomes engaged. They take a road trip across Spain, completing challenges set by each one of them, sending across the message that you only live once. As they progress through their trip, they find themselves, and get a new understanding and perspective of their relationships.
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Stars: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah
16. How Much Further (2006)
Esperanza and Tristeza both have to get to Cuenca. However, by an unfortunate turn of events, the bus they are on gets delayed due to a worker strike. The film is based in Ecuador. One of the girls is a local trying to stop the love of her life from marrying someone else, while the other girl is a tourist from Spain. The journey would normally take 5 hours but ends up taking a lot more. on the journey they meet a lot of interesting people who push them to re-evaluate their decisions and the purpose of their journey. The film portrays the beautiful and colorful scenery of Ecuador and is a realistic portrait of life in that country.
Director: Tania Hermida
Stars: Pancho Aguirre, Jose Alvear, Ruth Basante, Pato Borja
17. The Endless Summer (1966)
Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world,” sang the Beach Boys; and if ever a film embodied that mindset, it’s Bruce Brown’s 1966 surfer documentary. Brown shadowed buddies Robert August and Mike Hynson on a round-the-world surfing trip, filming their travels to places like Hawaii, New Zealand, and South Africa as they crested waves and met like-minded surf obsessives. The film’s impact on surf culture and tourism was huge, thanks in no small part to Brown’s cinematography, as well as the subjects’ ability to make riding those impossibly large waves seem effortless. This 1966 classic has a cult following, and deservedly so; it spiraled an entire surf and travel subculture, and has been inspiring travelers for the past 50 years. The film follows surfers around the globe as they search to continue summer surfing beyond the summer months. Their travels are what any traveler could wish on such a journey; exotic locations, cultural exchanges and lessons, and plenty of good stories along the way.
Director: Bruce Brown
Stars: Robert August, Michael Hynson, Lord James Blears, Bruce Brown
18. Easy Rider (1969)
Released the year of the Woodstock festival—perhaps the biggest event of the ’60s counterculture movement—Easy Rider couldn’t have come out at a better time in history. The film plays out like a motorcycle travelogue, following Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) on their sojourn from Mexico to Los Angeles to New Orleans. Shot on a shoestring budget, the film is flush with desert landscapes and towns that the pair of nogoodniks (and co-stars, like a young Jack Nicholson) pass through on their drug-and-booze-fueled hippie adventure.
Director: Dennis Hopper
Stars: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Antonio Mendoza
19. The Art of Travel (2008)
Ever think of trading out the American dream of white picket fences and suburban houses for an adventure? The 2008 film The Art of Travel shows a man who does just that after finding out his long time sweetheart and fiancee is cheating on him. Abandoning the past and in an attempt to move forward, he takes his honeymoon alone. The result is an adventure of self discovery and the true meaning and mastering of wanderlust as he and a group of adventurers try to race across the Darien Gap. Travel lovers everywhere will be inspired by the cinematography as the hero travels through the miles of the South and Central American rainforest. The film also does a fantastic job of depicting the struggle every traveler feels in their soul at the thought of returning to what is familiar after having experienced the challenges the world has waiting for you.
Director: Thomas Whelan
Stars: Christopher Masterson, Brooke Burns, Johnny Mesner, James Duval
20. A Map for Saturday (2007)
A Map For Saturday is a travel documentary that follows one man as he quits his cushy job with HBO to travel around the world for a year and live out of his backpack. It shows the different ways people travel, and gives an accurate picture of what it is like to vagabond around the world long term. You get to experience both the ups and downs of his trip at a very personal level. If you ever thought of doing something like this, the movie will show you what the experience is really like. It also shows you that anyone can travel cheaply if they really want to. The only thing stopping you is, well, you.
Director: Brook Silva-Braga
Stars: Scott Erikson, Rebecca Filmer, Sabrina Hezinger, Kate McNair
21. Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. The movie takes you through some of the most breathtaking sights and sounds of Spain.
Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Christopher Evan Welch, Penelope Cruz
22. Hit the Road: India (2013)
Hit The Road: India is a travel adventure documentary about two friends participating in a 12-day rickshaw rally across India, from Mumbai to Chennai, recognized by Lonely Planet as one of the top-10 greatest adventures of 2012.
Director: Gor Baghdasaryan, Mushegh Baghdasaryan
Stars: Richard Gazarian, Keith King
23. Away We Go (2009)
A couple who is expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover “home” on their own terms for the first time. Away We Go is story of discovery and interaction with different lifestyles of people across the world, and a look into the different kind of lives we can choose to live. The story follows a couple who is expecting their first child; upon learning they are pregnant, they decide to travel across North America to try to find the kind of culture and life they wish their child to grow up in. The film does well at inspiring you to not settle to be like the people around you, but to make your own path.
Director: Sam Mender
Stars: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Carmen Ejogo
24. Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost In Translation is based on two separate travelers, Bob & Charlotte, visiting Tokyo at the same time. They meet each other and form a friendship as they experience confusion and hilarity in a strange and curious city. Bob is an aging actor starring in commercials, while Charlotte is the bored wife of a photographer there on business. They are an unlikely pair, experiencing a degree of loneliness in a foreign city filled with millions of people. This is another beautifully shot film that also shows how funny and interesting traveling in a new country can be. The many little random experiences that present themselves while traveling are often the most memorable.
Director: Sofia Cappola
Stars: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
25. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Don’t want to give up your city life? A word of advice, please don’t watch the Under the Tuscan Sun. With all the delightful wines, mouthwatering food, remote cottages and scenic rolling hills shown in the film, this romantic flick will inspire to you to travel to this Italian paradise, as well as urge you to scrap your urban life, for a chance to harvest an awesome dream of living a life Under the Tuscan Sun.
Director: Audrey Wells
Stars: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan
26. Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
The book-turned-movie Eat Pray Love, ever since it was released, has been inspiring people to travel, and seek a life or career outside the big buzzing cities. I have to admit that this was one of those rare occasions where I didn’t enjoy the book but I enjoyed the movie. Yet another one based on the real story and memoir by Liz Gilbert, Julia Roberts plays her and visually takes us through her transformational journey from a difficult divorce to a quest of self-discovery through eating in Italy, praying in India and loving in Bali. A movie for the senses.
Director: Ryan Murphy
Stars: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis
27. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, and Terence Stamp star as two drag performers and a transwoman who travel to Alice Springs, Australia, in a lavender-hued school bus they’ve named Priscilla. A road trip across the Outback serves as a dusty backdrop for personal revelations and general awesomeness, like a fireside lip-sync performance of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.
Director: Stephen Elliott
Stars: Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp, Rebel Penfold-Russell
28. Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Seven Years In Tibet is about an Austrian mountaineer who heads out to conquer a Himalayan mountain in 1939. After getting captured and sent to a prison camp, he ends up breaking out with another man and sneaking into the holy Tibetan city of Lhasa. He befriends the young Dalai Lama just as the Chinese attempt to invade Tibet by force. Both men are from totally different worlds, yet become great friends and learn from each other. The character starts off as a selfish prick, but slowly changes his outlook on life when confronted with new experiences in a very foreign land. It’s a good movie that shows you how travel adventures can transform your life. Filled with scenic shots and views of The Himalayas, Potala Palace, and other sites, most of the filming actually took place in Argentina. However, two crews allegedly secretly shot footage in Tibet, providing authentic visuals.
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Stars: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, BD Wong, Mako
29. The Way Back (2010)
Inspired by an incredible true story, The Way Back follows seven prisoners from very different backgrounds as they attempt the impossible: escape from a Siberian prison in the dead of winter. Thus begins a treacherous 4,500-mile trek to freedom across the world’s most merciless landscapes – from Siberia to India. They have little food and few supplies. They don’t know or trust each other. But they know that to survive, they must withstand nature at its most extreme. A compelling testament to the code of trust among travelers, and our innate quality to seek survival and freedom at all costs.
Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, Dragos Bucur
30. L’auberge espagnole (2002)
I have met very few travelers who aren’t obsessed with L’Auberge Espagnole. While there are numerous reasons to love this movie—the romance of Barcelona, the potent sexual tension, etc.—the number one reason why travelers crave this movie is because it’s so incredibly real. Anyone who has ever lived or studied abroad can instantly relate to this film and the way in which it traces the subtle cultural differences and real-life situations experienced by University-aged travelers. Watching L’Auberge Espagnole makes you want to call up long lost travel acquaintances and reminisce and laugh over a stiff drink and focus on the lighter, more important side of life. A final sticking point is the way in which the main character, Xavier, realizes that life’s various experiences and the personal connections you forge are ultimately what really matter, not your salary, title, or career. As this is a mantra many free-spirited travelers hold so dear it’s no wonder the film has fostered such a devoted following.
Director: Cedric Klapisch
Stars: Romain Duris, Judith Godreche, Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou