Happy 2020! It’s a new year and a new decade and the world is still out there, waiting to be explored. Although travel is now more accessible than ever before with everything at your fingertips, sometimes we still need to get an extra dose of inspiration — that little push to get us out of our comfort zones and out of our daily routines.
Here is a list of 10 movies that will feed your wanderlust. I’m sure there are many others, but these are the ones that I’ve actually watched and enjoyed and treasured.
1. Eat Pray Love
Eat Pray Love is the story of Elizabeth Gilbert who, after a series of failed relationships and a quarter-life crisis, took a one-year sabbatical from work to travel to Italy, India, and finally Bali — where she found true love.
This movie is probably my least favorite in the list. The love story is cheesy at best. But when I watched it for the first time a decade ago, I was very young and going through a stifling relationship myself, so there was a lot I could relate to.
It was also the movie that first opened my eyes to solo travel. Before this book/movie, I never thought that anyone (much less a woman) could simply pack their stuff and travel for a year around the globe. Alone!
A must-watch for anyone contemplating solo travel.
Also adapted from a book, Wild is a true story of Cheryl Strayed who embarked on a 1,100-mile hike across the United States on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) following the death of her mother.
In this movie, Strayed takes us on a journey of healing and self-discovery. Despite all her blunders as a totally inexperienced backpacker, she soldiers on, covering those miles, finishing her journey and finding herself along the way.
An inspiring movie, especially for female travelers or anyone dealing with the grief of losing a beloved family member.
3. Into the Wild
Deemed one of the best travel movies in history, Into the Wild follows the true life story of Christopher McCandless, a young American who, after graduation, abandoned his life and all his belongings to hike into the great Alaskan wilderness.
Although it doesn’t have the happiest of endings, this movie is still a must-watch for those who dare to call themselves true travelers.
It will inspire you to be more spontaneous and adventurous in life. But at the same time, it also serves as a lesson to always equip yourself with all the necessary skills and knowledge before embarking on such a journey.
Tracks is a real-life adventure of Robyn Davidson who trekked solo across 1,700 miles of the Australian Outback with four camels and a dog.
Like the other movies above, this is also a story of self-discovery through solo travel. But unlike Strayed and McCandless, Davidson is well-prepared. She really knows what she’s doing and is very experienced with camels and the Australian wilderness.
I don’t think I will ever pluck up the courage to do something half as epic as what she did, but it’s still gratifying to watch someone do it and to live vicariously through her.
5. A Walk in the Woods
Written by the famous travel writer Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods is a story of the author’s journey on the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, and covers some of the most breathtaking landscapes in America — traversing across majestic mountains, forests, and lakes.
The movie provides a comical narrative of his adventures and misadventures, and the many different characters he met on the trail (including a couple of bears).
6. 3 Idiots
This movie is about two old college friends who are on a quest to find their long lost buddy, Rancho — an irrepressible free-thinker who had touched and changed their lives in his own unique way but had suddenly vanished. Nobody really knows who he is, where he came from and why he disappeared.
What ensues is an interesting journey involving a long-forgotten bet, a wedding they have to gate-crash, and a funeral that goes impossibly out of control.
3 Idiots is not a travel film, but it was shot in the beautiful region of Leh and Ladakh in northern India. It makes you want to go on a road trip with your best buddies on winding mountain roads and stunning landscapes.
7. Slumdog Millionaire
In Slumdog Millionaire, eighteen-year-old Ram Mohammad Thomas is arrested after winning one billion rupees in a TV quiz show, in which he managed to answer all 12 questions correctly.
The producers accuse him of cheating, for how could a slum kid with no education possibly know all the answers? This movie details the 12 extraordinary events in his life that gave him clues to all the questions.
Slumdog Millionaire is not a travel film. Nor was it intended to inspire travel. It shows all the less-flattering side of India — the filth, overpopulation, corruption, and crippling poverty.
But this honest depiction of the country is what makes the movie special. And it makes India all the more intriguing.
8. The Way
The Way is a poignant story of a father who –though reluctant in the beginning — decides to walk the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain, to honor his son who recently died hiking the same route.
He walks 800 kilometers from France to Spain in an emotional journey to come to terms with his son’s death. Along the way, he meets and makes friends with a number of strangers, all trekking the long trail for their own personal reasons.
This movie actually inspired me to go on my first camino from Porto to Santiago in March/April 2019.
On the morning of May 10th, 1996, climbers from two expeditions start their final ascent to the highest point of Earth: the summit of Mount Everest.
Unfortunately, disaster strikes as they are hit by one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. In this man-versus-nature debacle, the teams must endure the most hostile conditions imaginable in an epic battle for survival.
Based on an incredible true story, this movie portrays the courage, strength, and sheer determination of people — all in the name of adventure.
10. The Lion King
This is a photorealistic computer-generated remake of a Disney’s classic, which I think needs no introduction.
It’s heartwarming, and heart-wrenching too at some parts. If you think watching the cartoon Mufasa die was bad enough, try watching this one. But then again, I go gaga over any animal movie.
This movie inspired my recent trip to East Africa, where I paid a visit to Masai Mara in search of Simba (and found two of them, along with a lot of Nalas and Pumbas).
The Lion King is a treat for any traveler who is also an animal-lover and/or an Afrophile. I bet that you too will start looking for flight tickets to Kenya/Tanzania.
Now, go watch all these movies and book those tickets! If you prefer books, click here to see a list of travel memoirs to inspire you. And if you know any other movies that you think should be added to this post, comment below.