Are you consumed by wanderlust and ready to pack your bags and take the world by storm? If not, you will be after you check out the best travel movies ever! We’ve hand-picked these movies so you can experience the world through the best travel movies, then be inspired to get up and make your travel dreams a reality.
The movies below are sorted in alphabetical order and the ones marked with a star (★) are our favorite travel movies.
Appealing to your sense of adventure, this documentary will make you want to forget the daily grind, pack your bags, and explore the world. The film follows the epic adventure of a group of friends as they travel to Patagonia. With surfboards and climbing gear in tow, they learn about the decline of the natural world and the fight against industrialism. The strong message, honest characters, and beautiful scenery throughout secure it as one of the best travel movies of all time.
A Good Year
Russell Crowe stars in this movie as a high-powered London stockbroker who learns there is more to life than money. Inheriting a chateau and vineyard in Provence that he prepares to sell, Crowe falls in love with the simple life of the French countryside and a local beauty. This light-hearted comedy will make you want to book your ticket to the South of France ASAP.
A Map For Saturday ★
If you’re wondering what it’s like to backpack around the world for a year, this is the best travel movie for you. In 2005, Brook Silva-Braga left his seemingly idyllic job to do just that. Follow the journey few dare to take, and experience all the emotions that accompany long-term travel on a very personal level. This documentary will give you a realistic idea of the ups and downs of solo travel to 26 countries across five continents.
Away We Go
John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph star in this romantic comedy about a couple expecting their first child. With no real place to call “home”, they travel around the United States and Montreal trying to find the perfect place to start their family. Enjoy both introspective and laughable moments as they encounter quirky parents, friends, and old schoolmates on their journey to find the place of their dreams.
Producer Mark Magidson says the goal of this film “was to reach past language, nationality, religion and politics and speak to the inner viewer”. Baraka is a compilation of photographed scenes depicting human life, natural events, and technological phenomena that was shot in 25 countries on six continents. With power and prestige, this non-narrative documentary is unequaled in beauty, sensitivity, and the perception of our world. It transcends language and geography, and helps us look at the planet in a different way.
This beautiful love story gives an honest look at travel relationships. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play American Jesse and French Celine, who meet on a train in Europe. Knowing they only have one night together, they spend it getting to know each other and exploring the streets of Vienna. The European exoticism gives you a sense of “travel time”, where one day can feel like a lifetime.
This counterculture film is the tale of a search for freedom in a corrupt and conformist America. After Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) sell the cocaine they’ve smuggled from Mexico to Los Angeles, they set out to reach New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. Touching on issues such as the hippie movement, drug use, and the communal lifestyle, Easy Rider will open your eyes to some of the tensions that plagued the United States in the 1960’s.
Eat Pray Love
Based on the best-selling memoir by the same name which also tops the list of best travel books, Julia Roberts stars as Elizabeth Gilbert, a well-respected New York writer who leaves behind her miserable life to “find herself”. Her journey takes her to Italy where she enjoys the food and lifestyle, to India for meditation and prayer, and in Bali she discovers true love and inner peace. This movie will challenge you to keep your heart open and set out to find your own personal happiness instead of trying to fit into the mold of what others think your life should look like.
Dumped by his girlfriend after high school graduation, Scotty and his friends head to Europe to meet his German pen pal. It’s one hilarious scene after another and endless European stereotypes as they encounter awkward and cringeworthy situations all along the way. When it comes to comedies, this is definitely one of the best travel movies of all time!
Hector and the Search for Happiness ★
Based on the best-selling novel by the same name, Simon Pegg leaves behind his routine life as a psychiatrist to travel the world to find the key to true happiness. His global quest results in a contemporary love story with hilarious effects. For those who are just going through the motions and want more out of life, this movie is definitely an inspiration.
Hit the Road: India
Follow Richard Gazarian and Keith King as they take on the Mumbai Xpress, a 12-day rickshaw rally across India. This travel adventure documentary follows the pair from Mumbai to Chennai as they encounter travel woes such as a temperamental vehicle, terrible weather, and bureaucratic police. As their initial enthusiasm wears off, we learn how important determination and endurance are, even on our travel adventures.
In this comedy, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play Irish hitmen who are forced to hole up in Bruges, Belgium after a job gone bad. They live like tourists and have several bizarre encounters as they wait for the call from Ralph Fiennes, their crime lord boss. The more Farrell complains about the city, the more you’re going to want to visit.
Indiana Jones Series
Few things bring out the wanderlust more than Indiana Jones movies. For all the history lovers, you’re going to want to go searching for historic artifacts from South America to Asia, and throughout every desert and jungle in the world. Get ready to be inspired by Indy’s fun and wild adventures!
Into the Wild ★
Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild documents the true story of Christopher McCandless and his journey of self-realization. Following his graduation from Emory University, McCandless cuts ties with his family, sells his possessions, and sets out on a road trip through the western United States. Adopting the moniker “Alexander Supertramp”, the movie tells the story of the people he encounters along the way and his eventual arrival near Denali National Park to live in solitude in the Alaskan wilderness. His experiences give us a great picture of how our adventures and encounters shape our lives.
Lawrence of Arabia
Considered culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant, this classic story is based on the life of T.E. Lawrence. The autobiography of the English officer retells his Arabian adventure and his experience uniting and leading the nomadic Arab tribes during World War I. Gathering intelligence about the Arab revolt against the Turks, Lawrence reminds us that one of the greatest parts about traveling is learning about other cultures.
Life in a Day
This National Geographic film will give you an idea of what life was like around the world on July 24, 2010. The content from the crowdsourced drama came from a selection of 80,000 YouTube submissions from 192 nations, and can only be described as magnificent. A great time capsule for future generations, Life in a Day is also available for free viewing on YouTube.
Long Way Round ★
This DVD set and British television series follows the 20,000-mile motorcycle journey of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Beginning in the UK and ending in New York City, the team passes through 12 countries between Europe, Asia, Canada, and the United States. Their dream of adventure and test of endurance takes them through 19 time zones in just 115 days, and they also visited UNICEF projects along the way. To see an ultimate road trip that will help challenge your view of the world, this is one of the best travel movies of all time.
Long Way Down ★
The follow-up to Long Way Round, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman once again set off on their motorcycles. Beginning in Scotland, their journey is now taking them to Cape Town, South Africa. Rolling through vineyards, deserts, and jungles, their 85-day adventure gives us a glimpse of the stunning views of 18 different countries. Between border crossing issues and motorcycles accidents, they provide a realistic picture of the ups and downs of road trips.
Lost in Translation
Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson star in this romantic comedy-drama about Bob and Charlotte who create an unlikely bond after meeting in the bar of their Tokyo hotel. Creating a friendship from the loneliness they’re both experiencing, the pair head out to experience all that Tokyo has to offer. This movie will definitely make you think and evaluate your life and happiness. It is also a reminder that sometimes our most random encounters are the most memorable ones.
Midnight in Paris ★
In this romantic comedy, Owen Wilson plays Gil, an unfulfilled Hollywood screenwriter who heads to Paris with his fiancee Inez, played by Rachel McAdams. Dealing with the divergent goals between he and Inez, Gil mysteriously transports back to the 1920’s every evening at midnight. Mainly taking place in the Jazz Age of Paris, themes of modernism and nostalgia permeate throughout the film as Gil meets some of the greats from that era. If you need to be encouraged to follow your dreams, Midnight in Paris should be the next movie you watch.
With family coming in from across the globe for a traditional Punjabi Hindu wedding in Delhi, this film gives a great look at the Indian culture. Just like with any family and a large event, we get to experience the chaos that ensues from the issues of different characters as Vasundhara Das prepares for her arranged marriage. The great scenery and the interesting family members make this romantic comedy a great addition to your list of best travel movies.
Nowhere in Africa
This Academy Award-winning film documents the experience of a Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany in 1938. This true story follows the family as they adjust to their new environment running a farm in rural Kenya. In German, but with English subtitles, this movie reminds us of the joys and challenges of adapting to a new culture.
Recently diagnosed with stage four cancer, Ben Tyler, played by Joshua Jackson, sets out on a motorcycle trip across Canada against the wishes of fiancee Samantha, played by Liane Balaban. Ben searches for meaning in life as he travels from Toronto to Vancouver Island. His idiosyncratic quest has him stopping at many landmarks along the way. Though terminal cancer is not a happy subject to discuss, the movie is both enlightening and inspiring.
On the Road
Based on the novel by the same name, aspiring writer Sal is jolted into action by new friends Dean and Marylou. They decide to heed the call of adventure and travel the United States to find themselves. Embracing their freedom, we see how the different people they encounter affect their journey.
Planet Earth ★
This landmark documentary gives you a unique look at the past and present of our planet, and the impact we’re having on its future. The awe-inspiring television series will open your eyes to the greatest natural wonders of the world. Covering everything from a langur monkey in India’s teak forest to emperor penguins in Antarctica, this informative, yet engaging series definitely deserves a spot in your DVD collection.
Riding Solo to the Top of the World
The motorcycle journey of Gaurav Jani is nothing short of astonishing. Buckle your seat belt as you follow his quest from Mumbai to the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh. Bordering China, it is one of the most remote places in the world, and Gaurav completes the adventure as a one-man film crew. He crosses rough terrain devoid of roads and faces temperatures as low as -40 degrees celsius. This extraordinary film will have you sharing in the moments of love, pain, hardship, beauty, self-doubt and spiritual triumph he experiences along the way.
The message of this film speaks loudly, despite the fact that not a single word is uttered. The non-narrative film, shot in 25 countries, will awaken your senses to some of the wonders of the world and give you an unfiltered walk through some of the things we try to ignore. The images will guide you through sacred grounds, industrial sites, and disaster zones. This one-of-a-kind sensory experience is one you don’t want to miss.
Seven Years in Tibet
A great reminder of how traveling can transform your life, the movie tells the story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountaineer. Mountaineering in India in 1939, Harrer, played by Brad Pitt, is captured and sent to a prison camp. Escaping from the camp five years later, he finds himself in Lhasa living a life he never imagined. He meets and begins tutoring the young Dalai Lama as the Chinese plan to take over Tibet. Based on the book by the same name, the egotistical Austrian is enlightened as he experiences a new lifestyle and encounters Tibetan Buddhists.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Hitting the road in their tour bus named Priscilla, two drag queens and a transgender woman travel across Australia performing their unique cabaret act. Performing for excitable crowds and homophobic locals, personal issues and secrets arise among the crew that threaten their friendship and the act. This heartwarming comedy gives us a look into some of the challenges of the LGBT community as the group tries to get to Alice Springs in one piece.
The Art of Travel
Recent high school grad Conner Layne catches his bride-to-be cheating and decides to ditch suburban bliss and take the next flight out. Ending up in Managua, Nicaragua, he meets a group of entertaining foreigners and decides to join them as they attempt to cross the Darien Gap in record time. Facing incredible odds along the way, the 100-mile trek between Panama and Columbia consists of a large area of undeveloped swampland and a mountainous rainforest. A great example of adventure and exploration, the movie is a beautiful reminder to take your own path on your coming of age journey.
The Beach ★
In Leonardo DiCaprio’s first major role since Titanic, he plays Richard, an American backpacker with his sights set on adventure. In Bangkok, an encounter leaves him with a map of a hidden island paradise. Along with his companions, they set out to find the idyllic location. Learning the hard way that there can be a major difference between our dreams and reality, they arrive to the island to learn that everything is not always what it seems.
The Bucket List ★
A great reminder to live your life to the fullest, two unlikely friends meet when they share a hospital room. Jack Nicholson plays a corporate billionaire and Morgan Freeman plays a mechanic in this film where the terminally ill pair decides to escape from the cancer ward to complete their adventurous list of goals before their time runs out. If you’re not already checking items off of your bucket list, this film is sure to get you started.
The Darjeeling Limited
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman play estranged brothers who reunite a year after their father’s funeral to travel across India by train. Each with their own personal issues, they fight, bond, and grow while still coping with their father’s death. Making us laugh along the way, we see them begin to heal and attempt to become a more functional family.
The Endless Summer
For surfers, one of the best travel movies ever finds surfer and filmmaker Bruce Brown following world-class surfers Michael Hynson and Robert August across the world in search of the perfect wave. They visit Australia, Hawaii, Tahiti, Ghana, and a host of other surf spots to search for what they can’t find at home in California, all while introducing locals to the sport as well. Part travelogue and part surfing movie, the film will make you want to head to Cape St. Francis to experience “the perfect wave”.
Thelma and Louise
Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star as a housewife and a waitress whose fishing trip goes awry. After Louise shoots a would-be rapist, the two flee from the law in a ‘66 Thunderbird. This award-winning classic demonstrates the bonds of a true friendship, and will have you ready to pack your bags and explore the American West.
The Motorcycle Diaries
Based on the journals of medical student turned Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara, the movie documents the story of his five-month motorcycle trip across South America with Alberto Granado. From Brazil to Peru, we not only see amazing images of desert and rainforest, but also the true story of the poverty in Latin America. Finding his life’s calling through this adventure, we are reminded that personal discovery changes things, and our lives don’t always turn out the way we envisioned.
The Road Within ★
Tourette syndrome, OCD, anorexia, and the challenges that come with them are put at the forefront of this movie about Vincent (Robert Sheehan), Alex (Dev Patel), and Marie (Zoe Kravitz) who break out of a behavioral facility. The three-day road trip of these unlikely friends finds their personalities clashing as they set out to get the ashes of Vincent’s recently-deceased mother to the ocean. Laughing and crying are in order as this coming of age film gives real empathy for the people and their families who struggle with these disorders.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ★
Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty in this movie about a photo editor stuck in the cycle of monotony. Setting out in search of the perfect photo for the magazine’s final print issue, Mitty travels from Iceland to Afghanistan to find a mysterious photojournalist. Mitty is a great reminder that daydreams don’t actually take us anywhere, and if we want more out of life we have to get up and make it happen.
The Trip to Italy
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are followed throughout their Italian road trip. Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi, and Capri are highlighted as the duo indulges in lavish meals, witty impressions, and eccentric conversations. Loosely retracing the steps of the Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy, the picturesque landscape will make you want to book your flight ASAP.
After his son is killed in a storm in the Pyrenees while tackling Spain’s Camino de Santiago, American doctor Thomas Avery, played by Martin Sheen, heads to France to retrieve his son’s ashes. Rather than return home, Tom decides to finish what his son started and walk the journey. The 800-km quest forces him to make friends as he discovers that they’re all taking the walk for unique and personal reasons. The profound and emotional journey impacts him in a way he never imagined as he begins to learn why his son loved traveling so much.
The Way Back
Thought to be a spy in 1939, Jim Sturgess is sent to a remote Siberian labor camp. Meeting Ed Harris, Colin Farrell and others while imprisoned, they begin to plan their escape. A severe snowstorm gives them the perfect opportunity to break out and seek refuge, but the true challenge begins when the group has to travel 4,000 miles by foot through hostile terrain and the frozen Himalayas to their freedom in India. An inspiring drama depicting the strength of human will, they discover the true meaning of friendship along the way.
Against the advice of her critics, Robyn Davidson sets out on a solo 1,700-mile adventure. With only her faithful dog and four unpredictable camels in tow, she indulges her craving for solitude and treks from Alice Springs across the Australian desert to the Indian Ocean. Based on the true story of her journey of self-discovery, she meets National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan along the way who begins to document her journey.
Under the Tuscan Sun
Recently divorced and depressed, Diane Lane, a San Francisco writer, takes a trip to Tuscany courtesy of her best friend, Sandra Oh. While touring the town of Cortona, she purchases a villa to attempt a new beginning. Things start to look up as she gets to know a variety of her quirky, kind-hearted neighbors and hires a crew to renovate her new home. If you’re a romantic, this should top your list of best travel movies of all time.
Fulfilling a promise to his dead wife, 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to explore the South American wilderness. Accidentally stowed away as the house takes flight is an excitable eight-year-old wilderness explorer named Russell. The Pixar-produced film follows their hilarious once-in-a-lifetime adventure and the encounters they have with others along the way.
Up in the Air ★
A good depiction of the effects long-term travel can have, this movie stars George Clooney as he travels around the United States to fire people for a living. As his lifestyle of constant travel is threatened, he starts to re-evaluate his philosophy of living a life free of attachments to people and things. Quickly approaching his goal of 10 million frequent flyer miles, he begins to realize the emptiness that his lifestyle has left him with. Even though it’s not the most inspiring travel movie, it reminds you not to forget about who and what are really important in your life.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
American friends Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson vacation in Barcelona and meet artist Javier Bardem, who invites them to spend a weekend with him. The summer in Spain is going just like it should until the artist’s mentally unstable ex-wife, Penelope Cruz, comes back into the picture. Showing how travel can open us up to new experiences, the comedy-drama shows off the thrill and beauty of Spain that everyone wants to experience.
Fighting for her grandfather’s acceptance, Pai is dearly loved by everyone but him. Her grandfather Koro, who is the current Chief, refuses to accept the fact that female Pai is next in line to inherit the leadership post. Set in a small New Zealand coastal village and based on the novel by the same name, this film gives us a fascinating look at the Maori culture.
Trying to put her life back together after the death of her mother, her drug addiction, and the dissolution of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon, heads out on a 1,100-mile solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Based on the book by the same name, the inexperienced hiker experiences horror and delight throughout her trek. Realizing that she’s less lonely after she sets out on the hike and desperately in need of healing, her quest becomes a wonderful journey of self-discovery that secures its spot as one of the best travel movies ever.
Wild China ★
This six-part nature documentary series gives an in-depth look at China’s greatest natural wonders. The animals and wildlife really come to life in a way that most people don’t experience when they explore China. The natural history is put together beautifully and makes for an interesting documentary that everyone should see.
Y Tu Mamá También
This film follows two teenagers and an older woman who set out on a road trip through Mexico to find a hidden beach that doesn’t exist. Romance, conflict, and jealousy pop up as they begin to learn more about each other. A reminder that all travelers have eye-opening experiences along the way, the group discovers the poverty that exists outside of the bubble of their city lives. The unrated film isn’t for everyone, but it’s another good example of a coming of age travel experience.
Hopefully our list of the best travel movies has inspired you to save some money, pack your bags and visit some new places in the world. We are always eager to watch new travel movies. So, if you have any suggestions, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll give them a watch!
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Excellent list! May I add:
Everything is Illuminated
Summer Lovers (Gene Siskel’s ‘guilty pleasure)
The Hundred Foot Journey
Thank you for compiling this list! Such great recommendations and diversity of stories, which is why I feel the travel genre is the perfect vehicle to tackle just about any other genre and accompanying emotion, mood, or landscape. Some of these choices like The Motorcycle Diaries and The Way have been truly inspiring to me, though most of these I haven’t seen. It just occurred to me, you might consider Lonesome Dove (my favorite Western). A period piece of cowboys, ranchers, and scoundrels living on the American frontier, and the dangers, adventures, and transformation experienced in a 2000 mile cattle drive.
A good compilation. It is shameful to say that I have just about seen half them only. Now I know what I should do with my free time :) :)
Lol yes, watching the rest of them will definitely be a great way to spend your free time! Let us know what you think of them! Enjoy :)
WOW! I haven’t seen a lot of these. Definitely gives me some ideas for my next Netflix & Chill session!
Absolutely! Great movies to check out when you get a chance :)
Eat Pray Love and Under the Tuscan Sun are my favorites! I can’t believe I still haven’t seen Wild. I have work to do!
Lol you’re going to love Wild when you see it. Both the movie and the book are great!
These are some great movies. I have seen a lot that have certainly made me want to travel there and I am looking forward to seeing the rest.
We have to agree with you lol we’re always ready to hit the road after these movies!
Elaine J Masters says
What a great list. Some of my favorites are in there and I’m so happy that you reached back to some of the greatest older films like Lawrence of Arabia as well. Wish I had more time to watch everything on the list.
Thanks! Yes, some of the older films are definitely some of the best ones :)
While it’s not exactly a travel movie my favorite movie to inspire travel is ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’. Beautiful people living off of trust funds on the coast of Italy. What’s not to love? Great list!
You’re totally right! Even though it didn’t make our top travel movie list, it’s on the list of our favorite travel books article that we’re working on right now!
Great list! Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve been looking for new travel movies to watch. I think I’ve seen about a third from your list. The only problem is, I always feel like hopping on a bus right after watching movies like these haha. Which I can’t really do since I have a full-time job so all of my travels need to be planned in advance.
Absolutely, we’re happy to share!
Definitely understandable lol! Hope you get to take your next adventure soon :)
What a great list! There are so many movies I haven’t seen. I think I’ll start with A Good Year as I like Russell Crowe. Do you have a favourite?
A Good Year is a great one to start with! I get indecisive sometimes lol so I’m not sure that I have an absolute favorite. At this moment, I would say The Bucket List and A Map For Saturday are near the top :)
Megan J says
Incredible list – there are a LOT here that I haven’t seen – might have to start streaming! Into the Wild is obviously a classic, and we recently really loved Tracks. Will start watching through the rest!
Glad to share! For sure Tracks is a great one, glad you guys liked it! Happy streaming :)
A great list including a few that I have never heard of and will have to look in to. But where are the National Lampoon Vacation movies? A glaring omission.
Good call. We totally forgot about them, but definitely cool movies!
I see so many of my favorites listed! Thanks for giving me some new films to watch ^_^
Absolutely! Let us know what you think of the new ones you watch :)