Lacking Travel Inspiration? Here Are The Best MUST-WATCH Travel Movies - Updated 2021

Lacking Travel Inspiration? Here Are The Best MUST-WATCH Travel Movies - Updated 2021

Pop culture will always have the power to make you move, whether it’s music, the people, or movies. In this case, let’s talk about the movies. There are a variety of ways in which movies can influence us and the way we think. From sappy love stories to patriotic war films and soul-searching dramas, there’s something for everyone. And needless to say, everyone definitely has that one film that they hold close to their hearts, that has inspired them to do something out of their daily routine. Here are some of the best travel movies that are sure to inspire even those who have never boarded a plane! Oh, and if you’re lacking those travel juices, this one’s for you too!

1. The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries
Source: Photo by Flickr user Adam @ ecadamf used under CC BY 2.0

“The Motorcycle Diaries may not provide any satisfactory answers as to how a 23-year-old medical student went on to become arguably the most famous revolutionary of the latter half of the 20th Century, but it has an undeniable charm in that it imbues the memories of youth with a sense of altruism and purity – which are complemented by the scenery. It’s an incomplete portrait to be sure, but it’s a gorgeous depiction of two best friends riding unknowingly into the history books.” The Daily Telegraph
Based on a true story and set in 1952, The Motorcycle Diaries tells a story of two students, a medical undergraduate and a biochemist, traveling across South America. Journeying through more than 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) in just four and a half months on a dilapidated Norton 500 motorcycle, their epic adventure takes place just one semester before the med student is to graduate.

What initially started as a spontaneous adventure trip turned into the boys having a once-in-a-lifetime experience instead. During the course of their trip, Guevara and Granado encounter different kinds of people that make the men gain a better sense of the disparity between people of different privileges. In the movie, the men also volunteer at a leper colony for three weeks where they further discover the disparity between people. Guevara also decides to forgo using rubber gloves, and instead treats the patients with his bare hands.

The most inspirational part of the movie would have to be when Guevara swims across the river that separates the two societies of the leper colony, despite his asthma, to spend the night in the shack instead of the doctors’ cabins. This scene was named as the symbolic “final journey”. The movie received a ton of critical acclaim, including a standing ovation at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. The film and the actors have also won a multitude of awards, including those at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards.

This movie may be the top of the list for every traveler​ as it simply depicts the message that if you want to change the world, all you’ve got to do is just MOVE.

2. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source: Photo by Flickr user Rain Forest used under CC BY 2.0

This movie is a work of art. The critics hated it. It is a true journey of heart, mind, and soul, and the movie is not simply about a man that wants the attention of this one girl. It’s about a man waking up and experiencing life after having put it to the side for years to do the right thing for his family. Amazingly cast. Floored (and astonished) by Ben Stiller’s acting and direction. I give this an 8.5 on IMDb, and that’s more than I gave Temple Grandin. I will have to own this one (which means shell out good money for the bluray), and I’m guessing I’ll end up buying many copies, as I did for Time Traveler’s Wife (the book, not the horrible movie) because I must give a copy to everyone that hasn’t experienced it. Jessica J.
Released in 2013, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty stars Ben Stiller as a negative assets manager who goes on an unexpected adventure to look for a co-worker through the negatives that he gave, serving as clues as to where he is. Through the journey, which he partly managed to get through by thinking about his crush, Cheryl, he encountered many unique experiences and got to meet a whole bunch of different people, which resulted in him realizing that he’s missing out on a lot of what the world has to offer. Viewers of this movie were thrilled throughout, their eyes glued to the screen, curious as to wait awaits Mitty and his fate. The story also captures the fact that, although one can travel the world and experience a whole bunch of things, you will still face the reality of your everyday routine life eventually. In the movie, the most relevant scene would have to be when Mitty discovers O'Connell, the co-worker who gave him the negatives, at a volcano at the local village of Skógar, at which Mitty arrived using a longboard. He saw O'Connell flying in a plane near the volcano and, due to an eruption, he was forced to flee, losing track of the former. As there is nothing left for him to do, he obeys a text message recalling him to New York, where he returned to his office only to be fired from his long-term career. The story ends with Mitty handing the company the last negative that had sparked his whole adventure, which he actually found in the wallet that O'Connell had gifted him and that he had previously overlooked. The company then included the photo on the front cover of the magazine, and it turned out that the photo is actually of Mitty sitting outside of the Life building, examining a contact sheet.

The movie is also directed by Ben Stiller, who plays Walter Mitty. This movie shows that travel can go both ways and serve either as an escape or a rediscovery.

3. Up

Source: Photo by Flickr user elliot_groove used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Someday, Pixar is going to do it – they’re going to create an emotionally uninspiring, lackluster animated movie. But in the meantime, they’re still putting out delightful animated movies like “Up,” which defies the usual kid-movie conventions by starring a crotchety old man. It’s a charming, fun little adventure story with flying dogs and balloon-powered houses, but underlying it is a bittersweet little story about loss and love. E.A. Solinas
Now, you might be thinking, “What is a Disney Pixar movie doing on this list?” Hear me out! Up is a phenomenal cinematic masterpiece produced by Walt Disney, and no, it doesn’t center around love! This film tells a story about an elderly man named Carl who lost his way after his wife and love of his life, Ellie, passed away.

The two had planned to realize their childhood dream of visiting Paradise Falls after Ellie suffered a miscarriage and was told that she couldn’t have a child. They saved little bits of money every single day in the hope that they would finally have enough to visit the place, but were eventually disheartened when they had to repeatedly use the fund for more important needs. When Carl finally got enough money to take the pair to Paradise Falls, Ellie suddenly falls ill and dies. This is truly one of the most heart-wrenching love stories ever told by Disney, and in just 5 minutes! Fast forward to a few years later and Carl decided to take off (literally!), with the house, with the help of a few hundred balloons, after he refused to move out when his neighborhood was due for construction. What Carl didn’t know was that, along with the makeshift airship, he had also taken along a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell. The movie then follows the journey of the two in their unexpected friendship, as they survive thunderstorms, meet new friends, and, of course, eventually end up on the cliff beside Paradise Falls, fulfilling Carl’s promise to Ellie. The film was opened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first animated and 3D film to do so. It received universal acclaim and several Academy Awards nominations including Best Picture.

This film proves that it’s not just for the kids and teaches us that, instead of spending our lives on jobs that we don’t like and impressing people that don’t matter, we should be living our dreams and not just postponing our travel plans for the future, because no one knows what the future holds.

4. The Way

Movie Poster, The Way
Source: Photo by Flickr user Lee Kyung-joon used under CC BY-SA 2.0

My eyes were wet and I laughed out loud in the first fifteen minutes of “The Way,” and I continued laughing and crying throughout. I left the theater feeling the generous glow that a good movie inspires. I’ll now be telling everyone I know to see this film, on a big screen, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.

I was a bit anxious about “The Way.” I anticipated so many ways a movie that features backpacking, pilgrimages, and religion could go wrong. Would it be excessively pious and maudlin? New Age-y and Christophobic? Simply a bad movie? There is a reason so many films focus on graphic, intimate scenes and explosions: those are easy to shoot and they arouse viewer interest. “The Way” rapidly calmed my anxiety. It’s a honey of a movie. Danusha

The Way is a movie that manages to perfectly depict the love of family and friends and life challenges. It has gotten several positive reviews from critics and viewers, with many saying that they would be more than willing to introduce the movie to their friends or even watch it again and again.

The plot follows the father, Thomas Avery, an American ophthalmologist, who travels to France to retrieve his adult son, Daniel’s, body. Daniel was killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago, a Catholic pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Although his sole purpose was to retrieve the body, Thomas made the decision to honor his son by also walking the ancient spiritual trail where his son died, while carrying Daniel’s ashes with him. During his journey, Thomas got to meet a different people from around the world who were all searching for a greater meaning in their lives. Thomas then joined with three other pilgrims along the way, who were each very different from each other, and had different purposes as to why they were walking the route. During their journey, they occasionally met and talked with other pilgrims, and Thomas would occasionally see visions of Daniel alive and smiling among other people. The story ends with Thomas and the other three pilgrims arriving at Santiago de Compostela, where they head to Muxia to scatter Daniel’s ashes in the sea.

The story clearly depicts the life struggles that everyone encounters, and how our struggles are so different from one another’s. The quote: “the life we live and the life we choose” is perfectly described with this film, and it is definitely one movie that everyone should watch at least once.

5. The Bucket List

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A simple premise done magically is all I can say about this movie.

Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson are by far and away two of my favourite actors. Jack Nicholson is just funny, no matter what he says or does, ever since Terms of Endearment he has made me laugh so hard that I cry and Morgan Freeman is just the best actor going around. I find it hard to remember a bad movie that he has done.

Probably not everyone will like this movie but it is definitely up there with the best feel good/sad movies that I have seen….and it has a moral that most of us miss in our hectic, live for the now short lives. imdb

The Bucket List stars two of the most brilliant actors in Hollywood: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Could a movie ever go wrong when you put these two together? Although the film did receive mixed reviews from the public, it still proved to be a must-watch travel movie that doesn’t include wanderlust-filled youngsters.

The story follows two men, Carter and Edward, who were diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The two met and became best friends after they underwent their respective treatments. Carter is a mechanic, while Edward is a rich 4-time-divorced tycoon. While they were sharing the same ward, Carter began to write the “bucket list” but decided to throw the list away after he finds out that he has barely half a year left to live. Edward, who found the list, then decides to do everything that is stated on the list, even sponsoring the trip for the both of them. It was then that the two started their round-the-world vacation, where they experienced skydiving, drove a Mustang, flew over the North Pole, visited the Taj Mahal, rode motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, visited the Great Pyramid of Egypt, and more. When they returned home to their families, Carter suffered a seizure and found out that the cancer had spread to his brain. Carter then underwent surgery but it was unsuccessful and he died on the operating table.

At Carter’s funeral, Edward said that the the last three months of Edward’s life were the best three months of his. He then crossed “help a complete stranger for the good” from the list.

The movie depicts the most overused and maybe cliche message of travel, which is to experience everything you want to before it’s too late.

6. Into The Wild

Cenas do Filme Na Natureza Selvagem (Into the Wild)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Wil Ramos used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

When I read Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” approximately ten years ago, I was mesmerized by the tragic real-life tale of Christopher McCandless. But as much as I loved the book, I never even thought about a film adaptation. Maybe that was shortsighted of me. Recounting McCandless’s life and reconstructing it with minimal data and much introspection, “Into the Wild” succeeded as a cautionary adventure of idealism gone awry. Much of McCandless’s life was lived alone and much of his story was pieced together though brief encounters or recovered writings. So what was a thoughtful portrait on the page never really seemed like it would translate to the screen–certainly not with the same impact. Luckily, though, Sean Penn thought otherwise. Adapting and directing Krakauer’s fine book, Penn has fashioned a sad, funny and exciting film with tremendous emotional resonance. K. Harris
Into The Wild is probably what every college student needs to see before they graduate. Written and directed by Sean Penn, this film was based on a book written by Jon Krakauer. It talks about the adventures and travels of Christopher McCandless across North America and the Alaskan Wilderness during the early 1990s. The movie received multiple positive reviews, including nominations for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. Christopher is actually a graduate with high honors, but he decided to not live the conventional life and he proceeds to cut up all of his credit cards, donates nearly all of his savings, and goes on a cross-country drive to experience the wilderness. However, he also cut off all contact with family members and friends, so no one knew his plans or where he was going.

This meant that every single adventure, obstacle, or danger Christopher encountered was unknown to his family. From being beaten up by the railroad police to his supplies running out, Christopher finally realized that true happiness can only be achieved when is it shared with other people. During his return to his family and friends, he was forced to live on root and plants to survive. He sadly mistook some and accidentally ate poisonous ones, resulting in him falling ill. Eventually, he died. Before his death, he documented his journey and wrote a farewell letter to the world. His body was found by moose hunters. The movie depicts the harsh concept as to how some people use travel as a form of escape from their conventional life to search for self-discovery, which may not always result in a happy ending.

7. The Darjeeling Limited

Oh, man.
Source: Photo by Flickr user Seth Sawyers used under CC BY 2.0

The Darjeeling Limited is an extremely odd and quirky little film. The cinematography is beautiful in both location and detail. The Darjeeling Limited itself is quite exotic and colorful, and provides us a unique look at train travel in India. Additionally, native citizens of India are used throughout the film, which adds weight to the authentic feel. However lovely, though, the plot and character development are things left to be desired. Karen Joan
This comedy-drama film, directed by Wes Andersen, was released in 2007. The movie, which stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, received multiple critical acclaims, which included Roger Ebert saying that the movie’s Indian context was one of its main highlights.

The story centers around three brothers that reunited on a train in India called “The Darjeeling Limited”. The brothers had not talked to each other in a year, since their father’s funeral. One of the brothers, Francis, portrayed by Owen Wilson, suggested the reunion after he had recently survived a motorcycle accident. He hoped that this reunion, through a journey of self-discovery, would bring the brothers back together. As they journey on, the brothers continue to grieve their father’s death, while arguing and overcoming barriers. The brothers were even thrown off the train due to their bad behavior! As they traveled through the countryside, they managed to save two out of three boys from drowning, and carried the third boy back to the village, where they spent the night. During the funeral the next day, the brothers had a flashback of scenes that took place when they were on their way to their father’s funeral. The men then changed their mind about returning home, and instead went to confront their mom, who was a nun at a convent, as to why she had abandoned them. They awoke the next day to find their mom gone. The movie ends with the brothers chasing after the train and flinging their suitcases, including those of their father, away.

The movie shows that through travel and self-discovery, you can reunite and overcome differences between your friends and family, and, in return, create something more.

Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world

These movies are able to portray the many realities as well as the fantasies of travel, and they are sure to be a delight to viewers of all ages and backgrounds. There’s often just something about movies, music, and books that are able to change things, whether it’s our mindsets, our lifestyles, our goals, or, really, anything! And, needless to say, these movies are held close to the hearts of many. So go on Netflix now and queue all these movies and get ready for a snuggly, travel-inspired and soul-searching weekend ahead!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Aisyah is obsessed with the written word. She just loves reading and writing. It’s almost as if that’s her daily mantra. When not writing, she can be found watching Netflix with her three cats at...Read more

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