Being nomads, cooped up in semi lock-down in New Zealand for the past six weeks, we must admit has had its challenges. And while it’s only been six weeks, we know there are many more weeks (likely even months) to come when we can’t just grab our backpacks and go wherever we’d like to go, especially not internationally. So, what do you do if you’ve got itchy feet but have to stay put? You travel virtually.
If you are looking for ways to appease your wanderlust without leaving your home or seeking travel inspiration for the future when we can travel again, please read on. Our journey around the world in 80 travel movies might just be what you need.
Before we take off
There are gazillion movies out there that could be considered a travel movie. We selected those that we found immensely entertaining, those that showcase their setting beautifully and those that inspire you to discover the world (and more importantly, yourself). You will find road trips (by any means imaginable), epic hikes, bucket list adventures, historic crusades (of sorts); even documentaries that take us to the most remote places around the world.
Please also take note:
- Each continent’s list is in alphabetical order.
- The numbers in brackets after the movie title are the year of release and the film’s rating on IMDb.
- A click on the image will take you to the actual screening or tell you where you can watch it.
Now sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
1. A Good Year (2006/7.0)
Filming locations: England (London), France (Provence)
A ruthless London banker inherits a vineyard in Provence. Intent on selling the property as quickly as possible, childhood memories and two beautiful women might jeopardize his plans. Directed by Ridley Scott (who also produced Thelma and Louise), this movie stars Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard (from Midnight in Paris).
The vineyards of the Provence are gorgeous, but the movie reminded me a bit too much of Under the Tuscan Sun. Very enjoyable though nevertheless.
- Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
- Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard (Actors)
- Ridley Scott (Director) - Marc Klein (Writer) - Ridley Scott (Producer)
- English (Playback Language)
- English (Subtitle)
2. A Room With A View (1985/7.3)
Filming locations: Italy (Tuscany), England (London, Kent, Sussex)
Set at the turn of the last century, a young Englishwoman about to be married travels to Florence with her cousin and falls under the spell of a young man who is very different to her fiancé. Who is she going to choose? Featuring Helena Bonham-Carter, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis, this movie won three Oscars, including Best Costume Design.
We’ve been to Florence so many times that we recognize where many of the shots were taken. The movie beautifully showcases both the city and Tuscany.
- Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
- Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Maggie Smith (Actors)
- James Ivory (Director) - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Writer) - Ismail Merchant (Producer)
- English (Playback Language)
- English (Subtitle)
3. Before Trilogy
Filming locations: Austria (Vienna), France (Paris), Greece (Messinia/South-Western Peloponnese)
Three movies filmed 9 years apart – Before Sunrise (1995/8.1) | Before Sunset (2004/8.0) | Before Midnight (2013/7.9) – take the viewer to Vienna, Paris and Greece, and give a unique glimpse into what meeting a stranger while travelling might be like if we see them again or maybe even marry them. Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the second and third installation were each nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay.
Thankfully, I only watched this trilogy after all three movies had come out. I couldn’t have waited 9 years to find out what happens with these two.
4. Call me by your name (2017/7.9)
Filming locations: Italy (Lombardy)
Set in 1983, the movie follows 17-year-old Elio as he spends his summer holidays with his parents in Northern Italy, enjoying life, exploring his sexuality and discovering first love. Directed by James Ivory (who also directed A Room With A View), the movie won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The performance of the young main actor (Timothée Chalamet) is extraordinary. Lombardy’s scenery, art and architecture make a perfect backdrop to the story.
5. Chasing Liberty (2004/6.1)
This movie depicts the whirlwind European adventure of the First Daughter as she tries to shake off the Secret Service agents assigned to protect her. Matthew Goode made his breakthrough with this movie (he also played the romantic counterpart in Leap Year).
A romantic comedy with a gorgeous backdrop – no more but certainly no less.
6. Copenhagen (2014/7.1)
Filming locations: Denmark (Copenhagen)
William, an immature 28-year-old, travels to Denmark to find his grandfather. With nothing but a 40-year-old letter from his father to go by, a Danish girl half his age helps him in his quest and ultimately to find himself.
The performances of both main characters are remarkable, and the shots of Copenhagen beautiful. We’ve not been to Denmark but would love to visit one day.
7. Il Postino (1994/7.7)
Filming locations: Italy (Procida, Salina)
A shy local postman befriends Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who spends a few months during his 1952 exile on a small island in Italy. As Neruda teaches him about poetry, he also helps him to express his love for a beautiful local woman. The movie won an Oscar for Best Music. Massimo Troisi (who played the postman) gave his life for this movie: He died as soon as the cameras stopped rolling, only 40 years old, from a heart condition.
This movie put the Aeolian islands and the islands of the Bay of Naples on my travel radar. I had the pleasure to visit them in June 2003.
8. In Bruges (2008/7.9)
Filming locations: Belgium (Bruges)
The dark-comedic tale of two unlikely Irish hit-men and their adventures while hiding out in Bruges after a job gone wrong. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, the movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing/Original Screenplay.
I spent a weekend in Bruges in February 2003 and loved it (even though it was freezing cold). If you are into medieval architecture and Belgian beer, Bruges should be on your travel bucket list.
9. Leap Year (2010/6.5)
Filming locations: Ireland (Dublin, Counties Galway, Wicklow and Kildare)
The adventures of a young woman who, sick of waiting for a proposal, travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day – which according to Irish tradition he can’t refuse. Starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode (from Chasing Liberty).
A beautifully blended romantic comedy and a love letter to Ireland.
10. Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia! (2008/6.4) is essentially a musical production taken from the stage to the big screen: A young bride, hoping her father would walk her down the aisle, invites three possible contenders to her wedding. How the three contenders came about, we learn in the second installation: Mamma Mia! Here we go again (2018/6.7). Stars Meryl Streep (from Out of Africa fame), Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.
I love ABBA’s songs and have watched the stage musical a few times. Hearing Pierce Brosnan sing hurt my ears, sorry, but the landscapes of the Mediterranean make up for the travesty.
11. Midnight in Paris (2011/7.7)
Filming locations: France (Paris)
A struggling writer on holiday in Paris finds himself time travelling to the 1920s and meeting the characters of his favourite era when he wanders the city streets every night at midnight. Starring Owen Wilson (from The Darjeeling Limited) and Marion Cotillard (who also featured in A Good Year), the movie won an Oscar for Best Writing/Original Screenplay.
A Woody Allen movie that I actually liked, this is a beautiful portrait of Paris and an era I wouldn’t mind time traveling to either.
12. Nordfor Sola/North of the Sun (2012/8.5)
Filming locations: Northern Norway
This small budget documentary follows the journey of two young Norwegian surfers who spent a winter on a remote island in the Arctic Circle, living entirely off leftovers and experiencing Mother Nature in all her (forceful) glory.
The landscapes are out of this world, Inge and Jørn are adorable, and the movie’s underlying message is an important one for all of us to get. I’d love to see more of Norway one day – though not in Winter. Brrrrhhhh.
13. Paris, Je t’aime (2006/7.2)
Filming locations: France (Paris)
Eighteen interwoven episodes take you on a journey through Paris and the trials and tribulations of love in all its forms. This movie features acting icons Juliet Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Steve Buscemi, Gérard Depardieu, Bob Hoskins, Nick Nolte and many more.
I like watching intertwined stories, and this is a beautiful way to experience the City of Love.
14. The Trip Trilogy
This trilogy, including The Trip (2010/7.0) | The Trip To Italy (2014/6.6) | The Trip to Spain (2017/6.6), takes us on three culinary road trips, following two middle-aged friends touring the finest restaurants of Northern England, Italy and Spain.
The movies reminded me a bit of Sideways (which I liked a lot more). Make sure you ate before you watch (or have a dinner reservation straight after). The food looks divine.
15. The Way (2010/7.4)
Filming locations: France, Spain, Morocco
When his son dies on the Camino de Santiago, Tom travels to France to pick up his ashes. As he ends up doing the pilgrimage himself, he not only reconnects with his late son but rediscovers himself. The movie is a family affair, with Martin Sheen, Renée Estevez and Emilio Estevez featuring (and the latter also directing the movie).
16. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003/6.8)
Filming locations: Italy (Tuscany, Campania)
Accepting a gift from her friends, an American writer travels to Italy, where she falls in love with an old villa and decides to buy it. As she brings back the villa’s former glory with the help of a pair of Polish builders, she rediscovers her joy of life and ultimately, love. Featuring Diane Lane and Sandra Oh (who also stars in Sideways).
I don’t mind a romantic movie, and this one was certainly an enjoyable one. Who doesn’t (secretly) dream about doing up an old farmhouse and spending their days in Tuscany?
17. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008/7.1)
This movie follows two girlfriends on their summer holiday in Spain. Falling for the same artist, their love triangle gets even more turbulent when his (not so ex)-wife returns. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz (who won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role).
I don’t usually like Woody Allen movies, but I did like this one. Apart from an interesting script, it showcases Barcelona and the Northern-Spanish countryside beautifully.
Middle East and Africa
18. Africa (2013/9.0)
Filming locations: Namibia, Botswana, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Central Africa Republic, Gabon, Mozambique, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Sahara Desert
This six-part documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough takes us across the African continent, through deserts, jungles, savannas and even the Southern Atlantic Ocean. The series doesn’t just show off the amazing wildlife, it also sheds a light on the interconnections between geology, climate, ecosystem and human activity.
This is one of our favorite nature documentaries. Having been to the Namib and Kalahari Deserts, and South Africa in 2005, especially the first and fourth installations brought back fond memories for me.
19. Anderswo. Allein in Afrika | Elsewhere. Alone in Africa (2018/7.8)
Filming locations: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt
One day in Cape Town, three German friends in their 20s start a bicycle ride across Africa. When they split up in the Kalahari Desert, one of them continues the 15,000km journey. This documentary shares the trials and tribulations, and the many amazing encounters he makes on this trip of a lifetime.
A wonderful inspiring movie.
20. Cairo Time (2009/6.6)
Filming locations: Egypt
In Cairo, on her own, while she waits for her husband to return from a refugee camp, Canadian writer Juliette finds herself more and more drawn to Tariq, a local man who shows her his city. Featuring Patricia Clarkson (who also stars in Vicky Cristina Barcelona).
The footage of Cairo is beautiful. The movie is a feast for all senses, and Egypt another country on our travel bucket list.
21. Exit Marrakech/Morocco (2013/6.3)
Filming locations: Germany, Morocco
The movie depicts the journey of Ben, a troubled teenager who visits his estranged father in Morocco and meets a Berber girl who shows him her country. What starts as a vacation abroad turns into a journey of self-discovery, growth and reconciliation. Directed by Caroline Link (who also directed Nowhere in Africa).
This and several other movies just make me want to explore Morocco. We had planned to head there during Winter 2020 but in the end, decided to go to Turkey instead. Another time, hopefully, we’ll make it there.
22. Lawrence of Arabia (1962/8.3)
Set during WWI, this epic movie tells the story of T. E. Lawrence, a Colonel in the British Army, who successfully united the Arab tribes and led them to defeat the Ottoman Empire. Features movie icons Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn, and won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.
An oldie but a goodie: With stunning images of the desert, this movie makes you want to visit the Middle East and North Africa.
23. Long Way Down (2007/8.3)
Filming locations: UK, France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
The sequence to Long Way Round, this documentary series chronicles Ewan McGregor’s and Charley Boorman’s motorcycle ride from Northern Scotland to South Africa.
I love watching these guys. I traveled overland through Southern Africa in 2005, though in the opposite direction – from Cape Town via Namibia and Botswana to Zambia, and back south to Johannesburg. Can’t wait to return one day and see more of this magical continent.
24. Madagascar (2011/8.5)
Filming locations: Madagascar
Not the animated film franchise of the same name but a three-part documentary narrated by no other than Sir David Attenborough, this series introduces us to the flora and fauna of this most unique island off the coast of East Africa.
I had the privilege to visit Madagascar in 2005 and observe lemurs, chameleons and all sorts of other wildlife in their habitat. I also saw the destruction of the rain forests that once covered most of the island. Like many other, Madagascar is one place I’d love to return to one day.
25. Nirgendwo in Afrika/Nowhere in Africa (2001/7.5)
Filming locations: Germany, Kenya
The true story of a Jewish German family who escaped to Kenya before WWII to run a farm, the movie shares their experiences in adapting to a new country and culture in the throes of war and prejudice. Directed by Caroline Link, one of my favourite German directors (who also directed Exit Marrakesh/Morocco), this movie won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
26. Out of Africa (1985/7.2)
Filming locations: UK, Kenya
The movie portrays the life of Danish Baroness Blixen in Kenya from 1914 to 1931, her struggles to maintain her estate and her passionate love affair with a free-spirited game-hunter. Starring Merryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer, the movie won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Cinematography.
One of the first American movies screened in East Germany (together with ET, Dirty Dancing and Beat Street), it awoke my interest in Africa. The cinematography is outstanding.
27. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980/7.3)
Filming locations: South Africa
The comedic story of Xi, a Kalahari bushman, who in his quest to return an evil object (a Coca-Cola bottle) to the Gods, encounters the perils and absurdity of modern civilization.
Funny but poignant, the movie is a tongue-in-cheek critique of modern civilization. There is so much we (so called) developed societies can learn from (so called) primitive natives.
28. The Legend of Tarzan (2016/6.2)
Filming locations: UK, Italy, Gabon
Tarzan, living in his ancestral home in England, returns to the Congo to help protect the country he grew up in from the unlawful activities of King Leopold II. Features Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan (who, to look the part, underwent an incredible physical transformation) and Margot Robbie as Jane.
We are mentors of a tourist guide in Congo-Kinshasa. Watching the movie and learning from our friend what there is to see in Central and East Africa, we’ll definitely visit when we have the chance.
29. The Sheltering Sky (1990/6.6)
Filming locations: Morocco, Algeria, Niger
The story of an American couple travelling across North-Africa in search of revival, passion and creativity. Starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich, and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, the movie won a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
A tribute to Morocco and its breath-taking landscapes, culture and nomadic life, this movie may not suit everyone, but it sure is a feast for all senses. My favourite quote: Tourists think about going home the moment they arrive, whereas a traveler might not come back at all.
North and Central America
30. Captain Fantastic (2016/7.9)
A family of eight embraces living in the wild Pacific North-West, away from Corporate America. But paradigms clash when the mum dies, and the father and children return to civilization to respect her final wishes. Stars Viggo Mortensen (also featuring in Green Book) who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
Oh, how we can relate to the couple’s desire to live outside the norm, especially in a place as beautiful as the Pacific North-West. If you are squeamish, skip the first five minutes of the movie.
31. Easy Rider (1969/7.3)
Two bikers ride from LA to New Orleans in search of freedom, passing through spectacular landscapes and encountering intolerant small-town folk but also like-minded people. Starring movie greats Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, the movie was nominated for two Oscars, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Nicholson).
Woodstock on wheels – the soundtrack is timeless, the perfect road trip score. This is how I imagine the 1960s were.
32. Expedition Happiness (2017/5.9)
Having converted an old school bus, Felix and Selima, a young German couple and their dog Rudi travel across North America, enjoying life on the road (despite its challenges) and the wonders of nature along the way. Selima’s beautiful music is used in the soundtrack.
We traveled in our campervan around New Zealand, so we can very much relate to the trials and tribulations living in a vehicle presents.
33. Forrest Gump (1994/8.8)
Filming locations: USA (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington DC, Maine, Montana, Utah, Arizona, California)
A kind, simple-minded boy from Alabama ends up influencing some of the most important events of the 20th century by listening to the advice from others and following his heart. Starring Tom Hanks and Sally Field, the movie won six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Visual Effects.
Tom Hanks is Paul’s favourite actor and this his favourite movie. Unintended, we ended up visiting quite a few of the filming locations as we traveled through the Southern states of the US in 2016 (including that park bench in Savannah).
34. Green Book (2018/8.2)
Filming locations: USA (New York, Georgia, Louisiana)
This movie depicts the 1960s concert tour through the Deep South of real-life African-American pianist Dr Don Shirley and his Italian-American driver, and the unlikely friendship that develops between them. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, the movie won three Oscars – for Best Motion Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actor in Supporting Role (Ali).
The movie is an honest portrayal of a difficult period in American history, and the acting is outstanding. We traveled through the Deep South (in opposite direction) in 2016. It was absolutely eye-opening.
35. Into The Wild (2007/8.1)
The real-life story of Christopher McCandless (calling himself Alexander Supertramp) who gave away all his possessions and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wild, and the friendships he made along the way. Directed by Sean Penn, the movie was nominated for two Oscars.
A powerful movie reminding us that experiences and the people we meet on our journey are more important than things. Fittingly, we found a boot dedicated to Alexander Supertramp during our Camino.
36. One Week (2008/7.0)
Filming locations: Canada (Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia)
After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, a young man buys a motorbike and embarks on a journey across Canada from Toronto to the Pacific in a quest to discover the life he REALLY wants to live. A great performance by Canadian actor Joshua Jackson.
Better late than never… Despite the sad circumstances for the trip, the movie was actually quite uplifting. It also showed that Canada is not all mountains. We’re now seriously thinking about doing a road trip across the country at some point in the future.
37. On the Road (2012/6.1)
Based on Jack Kerouac’s 1940s novel, a young writer in search for inspiration travels across North America. Joined by a young couple looking for adventure, their journey will change their lives. Starring Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen (of Green Book and Captain Fantastic fame), the movie was directed by Walter Salles (who also directed The Motorcycle Diaries).
While not the best road movie and lacking the energy of the book it is based on, the landscapes are stunning and the cinematography is outstanding.
38. Pirates of the Caribbean
Comprising five installations – The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003/8.0) | Dead Man’s Chest (2006/7.3) | At World’s End (2007/7.1) | On Stranger Tides (2011/6.6) | Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017/6.6) – this movie franchise depicts the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann and Captain Barbossa as they roam the Caribbean Sea. Dead Man’s Chest won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
The Caribbean has a special place in our hearts. We had the pleasure of visiting the movie set of Port Royal in Wallilabou Bay on the island of St Vincent in 2017. On the same trip, we observed turtles in the Grenadines‘ Tobago Quays, and explored beautiful Dominica – all Pirates of the Caribbean filming locations (but without the hoards of tourists other places around the world have attracted after featuring on screen).
39. Sideways (2004/7.5)
Filming locations: USA (California)
The story of two unlikely middle-aged friends who embark on a road trip through California’s vineyards before one of them is due to get hitched. With outstanding performances of Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen in particular, the movie won an Oscar for Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay.
With the stunning California wine country as backdrop, this movie beautifully portrays our questioning of life as we reach a certain age. I was also happy to see I’m not the only one with a dislike of Merlot.
40. Thelma and Louise (1991/7.3)
Filming locations: USA (California, Utah, Colorado)
Two girlfriends’ weekend getaway turns into a journey of self-(re)discovery and a police chase across the American Southwest when one kills a man defending the other. Starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, and a very young Brad Pitt making his breakthrough, the movie won an Oscar for Best Writing/Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
To this day, I remember the cinema’s reaction when Brad Pitt first appeared on screen… men are not the only ones who can wolf-whistle, let me tell you. But in all seriousness, the landscapes are stunning. Watching the movie made me want to do a road trip across the US, which is still on my travel bucket list.
41. The Road Within (2014/7.1)
Filming locations: USA (California)
A young man with Tourette Syndrome and an anorexic girl run away from an experiential mental health facility, kidnapping his OCD room-mate and embarking on a life-changing road trip to take his mother’s ashes to the ocean. With Dev Patel (who also starred in Slumdog Millionaire and The [Second] Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and relatively unknown actors Robert Sheehan and Zoë Kravitz.
A coming of age movie with incredibly compelling characters and beautiful landscapes, it also gives you an appreciation for what it might be like to live with a mental illness.
42. Wild (2014/7.1)
Filming locations: Pacific Crest Trail
This movie follows Cheryl who hikes 1,800km along the Pacific Crest Trail, facing her demons, grieving for her mother and healing herself in the process. The movie was nominated for two Oscars – Best Actress in a Leading role (Reese Witherspoon) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Laura Dern).
I’m not a big fan of Reese Witherspoon but her performance in this movie is outstanding. Long-distance walks/hikes (like the Pacific Crest Trail or the Camino de Santiago) can literally change your life.
43. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001/7.6)
Two teenage boys and an attractive woman embark on a road trip through Mexico, learning about friendship, themselves and life in general. A coming-of-age story Mexican style, the movie stars a very young Gael García Bernal (from The Motorcycle Diaries) and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing/Original Screenplay.
Mexico was a huge positive surprise for us when we explored Central America in 2017, so much so that we extended our stay to see more of the Yucatán Peninsula and Mexico City. We’d love to return one day and explore more of this amazing country.
44. Amazonia (2013/6.5)
Filming locations: Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas)
The movie depicts the adventures of Sai, a capuchin monkey born and raised in captivity, who finds himself stranded in the Amazon rain forest after a plane crash and learns to survive in the jungle. Narrated by Martin Sheen.
Our time in the Peruvian Amazon with Otorongo Expeditions in 2012 is a memory we’ll never forget. This movie enables everyone to have a similar experience. The scenery is stunning, the animal world mesmerizing. As close to the real thing as one can get.
45. Central do Brasil/Central Station (1998/8.0)
Filming locations: Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Pernambuco)
The movie tells the quest of Dora (who writes letters for illiterate people at Rio de Janeiro’s Central Station) and Josue (a 9-year old boy who just lost his mother) to find the father he’s never met. Directed by Walter Salles (who also directed The Motorcycle Diaries and On the Road), the movie was nominated for two Oscars – Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actress in a Leading Role.
We traveled the states of Paraná, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in 2012, so haven’t been to Bahia or Pernambuco, but we are planning to head back to Brazil one day to see more of this amazing country.
46. Kon-Tiki (1950/8.0)
Filming locations: Sweden, Peru, South Pacific
Chronicles the 1947 journey of Thor Heyerdahl and his companions on a wooden raft from South America to Polynesia, relying on wind and currents to prove an alternative population theory for the South Pacific. This movie is based on the actual journey’s footage and won an Oscar for Best Documentary. A newer adaptation, Kon-Tiki (2012/7.2), was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
We watched both movies shortly after visiting the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo in 2019. One of the greatest explorers of our time, Thor Heyerdahl also crossed the Atlantic from Africa to Barbados in a papyrus reed boat in 1970 to prove that contact between the ancient tribes of Africa and the Americas was possible long before Columbus’ time.
47. The Art of Travel (2008/6.4)
Conner’s bride-to-be has an affair with the best man. So, the 18-year-old goes solo on his honeymoon to Central America and ends up joining a group of strangers who attempt to cross the Darien Gap.
The movie explores why we travel and how it changes us. While at times difficult to watch, it’s a coming-of-age story that many will find entertaining.
48. The Dragons of Galapagos (1998/8.6)
Filming locations: Ecuador
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, this documentary tells the story of the land iguanas and their struggle for survival on Fernandina, one of the islands of the Galápagos archipelago.
Like the Amazon, the Galápagos Islands hold a special place in our hearts. We were fortunate to visit the islands in 2017, experiencing not only land iguanas but many, many other animals who call these remote islands home.
49. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004/7.8)
Based on Che Guevara’s journal, the movie depicts the road trip 23-year-old Che and his friend Alberto took across South America – a journey that would shape their destiny. Starring Gael García Bernal (who featured in Y Tu Mama Tambien) as the young Che and directed by Walter Salles (who also directed Central do Brasil/Central Station and On the Road), the movie won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Featuring amazing images of South America, this movie inspired us to explore South and Central America in 2012 and 2017.
50. L’Ascencion/The Climb (2017/6.9)
Filming locations: France (Paris, Chamonix), Nepal
Samy, who lives with his family in council housing in a Parisian suburb, promises to climb Mt Everest to show his childhood sweetheart Nadia he’d do anything for her. Without mountaineering experience and no penny to his name, he manages to raise the money for the trek. Will he make it to the top and get the girl?
The trek scenes were filmed in Nepal (until base camp) and at Mt Blanc. The mountain scenery is absolutely breathtaking. If exploring the Himalayas is on your bucket list, my former work colleague Emma and her husband Trevor organize treks to the base camps of the world’s 14 highest mountains.
51. Lost in Translation (2003/7.7)
Filming locations: Japan (Tokyo, Yamanashi Prefecture, Kyoto)
An ageing movie star and a neglected young wife meet in a Tokyo hotel. Lost in a city (and culture) so foreign to their own, they form an unlikely friendship. Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, the movie won an Oscar for Best Writing/Original Screenplay.
The film beautifully depicts Tokyo’s unique energy. I love the city and can’t wait to go back.
52. Monsoon Wedding (2001/7.3)
Filming locations: India (Delhi)
Indian weddings are an occasion family and friends come to attend from all corners of the world. As a family prepares for the four-day event, each of the characters reveals their secrets. Directed by Mira Nair, the movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
This was the first Indian movie I watched, and I was hooked. I attended a wedding in India in 2010, which was an unforgettable experience.
53. Outsourced (2006/7.0)
Filming locations: USA, India
Todd, a call centre manager from Seattle suddenly finds his job off-shored. Required to travel to India to teach his replacement how to deal with American customers, Todd quickly realizes he first needs to understand the Indian culture.
I visited India in 2010/11. While I loved it and look forward to returning one day, my two weeks there left me exhausted.
54. Seven Years in Tibet (1997/7.1)
Based on true events, the movie depicts the story of Austrian explorer Heinrich Harrer who befriends His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in the early days of China’s occupation of Tibet. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
I’m a huge fan of the Dalai Lama, and visiting Northern India and Tibet is still on my list of travel destinations.
55. The Beach (2000/6.7)
Filming locations: Thailand (Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket, Ko Phi Phi Leh, Khao Yai National Park)
A group of young backpackers travel around Asia. While in Bangkok, they come into possession of a map that leads them to paradise on earth. Once there, they quickly discover they are not alone. This was the first movie Leonardo DiCaprio starred in after his massive success in Titanic.
Sadly, this movie did to Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh what Game of Thrones did to Dubrovnik. The beach was closed in 2018 to give nature the chance to recover from overtourism. I had the pleasure of visiting Maya Bay before it became famous, on a dive trip in March 1998.
56. The (Second) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Filming locations: UK, Spain, India – Rajasthan
The two movies – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011/7.2) | The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015/6.6) – depict the trials and tribulations of a group of retirees who (for various reasons) travel to Rajasthan to live out their days in a crumbling hotel. Starring movie icons Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and (in the second movie) Richard Gere, as well as Dev Patel as the charming, boyish hotel manager. The first movie was nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Dench).
Utterly charming and endlessly entertaining. As Dev’s character says in the movie: Everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.
57. Transsiberian (2008/6.7)
Filming locations: China, Russia, Lithuania
A journey on the Trans-Siberian from Beijing to Moscow becomes more than a young American couple bargained for when the pair they share their cabin with pulls them into their dirty secrets. Starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley.
Naivety can get you into trouble – big time. While there are a lot of things in this movie that are rather unbelievable, if travel safety isn’t high on your agenda – watch it.
58. Australia (2008/6.6)
Set during WWII, Lady Sarah finds herself in charge of a dairy farm after the murder of her husband. She reluctantly joins forces with a stock-man, driving 2,000 cattle to Darwin, just as it is attacked by the Japanese. Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, and with the same cinematographer as Tracks (Mandy Walker), the movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design.
59. Brae Nue Dae (2009/6.2)
Filming locations: Australia (Perth, Fremantle, Broome, Kununurra)
Set in 1969, the movie follows the journey of a young Aboriginal man who runs away from boarding school intending to return home to Broome, his community and the girl he loves. The great Aussie cast includes Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, Missy Higgins, Ernie Dingo, Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy.
A quirky musical movie with catchy tunes and the incredibly stunning scenery of (North-)Western Australia as backdrop.
60. Crocodile Dundee
Filming locations: Australia (Queensland, Northern Territory), USA (New York)
Taking inspiration from a true crocodile hunter, this trilogy – comprising Crocodile Dundee (1986/6.6) | Crocodile Dundee II (1988/5.6) | Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001/4.8) – follows the adventures of outback man Mick Dundee both at home and in the big smokes of New York and LA. Stars Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski (who fell in love with each other during filming and were married for 24 years), and Aboriginal actors Ernie Dingo, as well as David Ngoombujarra and David Gulpilil (who both featured in Rabbit-Proof Fence and Australia).
Full of clichés and stereotypes but very entertaining. In 2018, Tourism Australia reinvigorated the Dundee franchise with a massive marketing campaign in the lead-up to the Superbowl.
61. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016/7.9)
Filming locations: New Zealand (Rangipo Desert, Coromandel, Auckland)
A problem foster child from the city and a reclusive old man take off on a trek through New Zealand’s wilderness, testing their survival skills, and dodging pursuing rangers, police and Child Services. Starring Sam Neill, the movie was written and directed by Oscar-winner Taika Waititi.
Don’t we all sometimes feel we’d like to run away and just live in the forest with whatever Mother Earth provides for us?
62. Last Cab to Darwin (2015/7.2)
Filming locations: Australia – South Australia, NSW (Broken Hill), Northern Territory (Alice Springs, Darwin)
Terminally ill cab driver Rex wants to end his life on his terms and embarks on an epic road trip through the Australian outback from Broken Hill to Darwin, soon sharing the journey with a diverse range of characters. With Aussie acting greats Michael Caton, Jacki Weaver and John Howard.
63. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002/7.4)
Filming locations: Australia – South Australia (Gibson Desert, Flinders Ranges), Western Australia (Pilbara)
Based on a true story, the movie follows three mixed-race Aboriginal girls who in 1931 walked over 2,400km through the Australian outback to be reunited with their Aboriginal families, all the while avoiding recapture. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
The movie tells the gripping story of Australia’s Stolen Generations. The even sadder part: It took the Australian government until 2008 to apologize.
64. Red Dog (2011/7.4)
Filming locations: Australia – Western Australia (Pilbara), South Australia
Based on true events, the movie tells the story of a smart, lovable Kelpie who became a unique member of a mining community and roamed the outback (and overseas) in search of his long lost master.
A slow starting but beautiful movie with a gorgeous dog who steals the show.
65. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994/7.4)
Filming locations: Australia – NSW (Broken Hill, Sydney), South Australia (Coober Pedy), Northern Territory (Alice Springs)
Two drag queens and a transgender woman travel in their bus Priscilla from Sydney to Alice Springs where they are due to perform in a show. That they make quite an entrance wherever they stop is an understatement. Starring Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, the movie won an Oscar for Best Costume Design.
66. The Hobbit Trilogy
Filming locations: New Zealand (Hobbiton movie set/Matamata, Tongariro National Park, Golden Bay, McKenzie region, Mt Aspiring National Park, Otago, Fiordland)
Almost 60 years before Frodo’s arduous journey to Mordor in Lord of the Rings, his brave uncle Bilbo embarks on an adventure to take back a kingdom and encountering a magic golden ring in the process. Directed by Sir Peter Jackson and comprising An Unexpected Journey (2012/7.8) | The Desolation of Smaug (2013/7.8) | The Battle of the Five Armies (2014/7.4), the Hobbit earned 7 Oscar nominations.
67. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Filming locations: New Zealand (Hobbiton movie set/Matamata, Weta Studios/Wellington, Queenstown Lakes, Milford Sound, Tongariro National Park)
Sir Peter Jackson’s award-winning epic, comprising The Fellowship of the Ring (2001/8.8) | The Two Towers (2002/8.7) | The Return of the King (2003/8.9), tells the story of Frodo and his friends who set out to destroy an ancient but powerful magic ring and save Middle-Earth from the Dark Lord’s reign. The trilogy collectively won 17 Oscars.
The movies take you to some of the most breath-taking landscapes of New Zealand. Unfortunately, I only got to watch the first movie. While PG-13 rated, it was a bit too violent for me.
68. Tracks (2013/7.2)
Filming locations: Australia (South Australia, Northern Territory)
Based on a true story, this movie depicts the arduous journey of a young woman, who – joined by her camels and faithful dog – walks 2,700km across the outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.
With the same cinematographer as Australia (Mandy Walker), the movie showcases the Australian outback beautifully.
Around the world
69. A Map for Saturday (2007/7.8)
This documentary follows Brook on his year-long trip around the world, introducing us to the many diverse characters he meets on the road and capturing beautifully the ups and downs of long-term travel.
Anyone who wants to understand why we chose this lifestyle – please watch!
70. Around the World in 80 Days (2004/5.9)
Filming locations: Germany, China, Thailand
A comedic version of the classic Jules Verne novel: Trying to prove that one can circumnavigate the world in 80 days, inventor Phileas Fogg, his butler and an aspiring French artist embark on a trip of a lifetime. Starring Jackie Chen and Jim Broadbent.
Of course, the book/movie that lent this article its title couldn’t be missed from this list. I did prefer another adaptation though: Around the World in 80 Days (1989/7.2) – a three part mini series starring Pierce Brosnan, Christopher Lee and Sir Peter Ustinov.
71. Departures (2008-2010/9.0)
Filming locations: Around the globe – including less visited destinations like Ascension Island, Libya, Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Greenland and North Korea
Three Canadian friends – Justin, Scott and Andre – explore the world, one country at a time. Over three seasons and 42 episodes, we learn heaps about each destination and the friends’ idiosyncrasies.
Watching these guys was a huge inspiration for our journey.
72. Descending (2012/8.8)
Filming locations: New Zealand (Poor Knights Islands), Djibouti, Sudan, Canada (Vancouver Island, Great Lakes), Dominica, Grenada, South Africa, Mexico (Sea of Cortez), Iceland (Silfra fissure), Solomon Islands, Indonesia (Raja Ampat, Lembeh Strait), Vanuatu
Scott and Andre, minus Justin but with their Kiwi mate Ellis, continue to explore the world, taking us to the most fascinating dive sites, and discovering historic wrecks and interesting creatures over 13 episodes.
Unfortunately, without Justin, it’s not the underwater version of Departures. Nevertheless, the sea world shown is absolutely breath-taking and even us non-divers loved watching the series. Shame they stopped after only one season.
73. Eat Pray Love (2010/5.8)
Filming locations: New York, Italy (Naples, Rome), India (Delhi and surrounds) and Indonesia (Bali)
Realizing her dream life wasn’t HER dream, Liz embarks on a journey of self-discovery: from the pleasures of eating in Italy, and the power of prayer in India to inner peace and true love in Indonesia. Starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem (of Vicky Cristina Barcelona fame).
An easy to watch movie with beautiful locations, Liz’ story reminded me a bit of my own. The real life Liz Gilbert is very inspiring.
74. Hector and the Search For Happiness (2014/7.0)
Filming locations: London, Shanghai, India, South Africa
A psychiatrist who’s slowly losing it, Hector embarks on a global quest to find the secret formula for true happiness. With child-like naivety, he makes the most unusual encounters and finds answers in the most unlikely places. With comedian Simon Pegg as well as movie greats Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård (who also starred in the Mamma Mia movies) and Jean Reno.
This movie actually made me relive the wonderful moments we’ve had and people we’ve met on our journey to date.
75. Last Holiday (2006/6.4)
Filming locations: USA, Czech Republic, Austria
Georgia lives her life in a holding pattern in New Orleans… until she is told she’s only got three weeks to live. With nothing to lose, she finally does what she’s always dreamed about. Starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J and Gérard Depardieu.
I personally preferred The Bucket List, but it’s still a very entertaining movie.
76. Long Way Round (2004/8.6)
This documentary series follows actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on their 31,000 km motorcycle journey around the world from London through Europe and Asia to New York.
77. Planet Earth
Filming locations: Around the globe
The Planet Earth franchise – comprising Planet Earth (2006/9.4) | Planet Earth II (2016/9.5) – 11 installments followed by another six episodes ten years later, take us on a spellbinding journey around the world. Narrated by the one of a kind Sir David Attenborough.
Probably THE most comprehensive documentary series covering the most amazing flora and fauna on our planet, this is a must-see for all nature lovers. I can’t even begin to count the many places this documentary series has contributed to my travel bucket list. If this doesn’t show you how important it is for all this beauty to be preserved nothing will.
78. The Bucket List (2007/7.4)
Filming locations: USA, France, Egypt, Tanzania, India, China
Two unlikely characters – one filthy rich, the other working-class – share a hospital room and a destiny: a terminal illness. They head off on an adventure, doing all the stuff they’ve always wanted to do. Starring movie legends Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Released at a time when I went through a major life event (separation and ultimately divorce), this movie inspired me to write up (and start ticking off) my own bucket list.
79. The Endless Summer (1965/7.8)
Dubbed the greatest surf movie of all times, this documentary follows two young surfers on an adventure around the world in search of the perfect wave.
Not a surfer myself, I do love watching expert surfers riding the waves. In 2005, I even traveled to the north-coast of Hawaii to see them.
80. Weit: Die Geschichte von einem Weg um die Welt/Far: The Story of a Journey Around the World (2017/8.4)
Filming locations: around the globe
A young German couple embarks on a trip around the globe and takes us along for the ride as they slowly make their way across Europe, Asia, and North and Central America back to Europe, thoroughly immersing themselves in other cultures. Without setting foot on an aeroplane, the journey took them 3 1/2 years and 667 car rides. Even pregnancy couldn’t stop them follow their dreams.
A beautiful and inspiring travel diary that reminds us of a simple fact: Travel is a powerful tool to tear down the misconceptions we may have about other cultures. We are all humans, after all.