Adventure Movies

25 best travel movies to inspire your own adventures

October 19, 202316 Mins Read

A list of our favorite travel movies, from classics to lesser-known films, plus tips to live your own real-life adventures.

Feel like going on an incredible excursion without leaving the house? That’s the magic of travel movies. Picture this: one moment you’re exploring sun-soaked vineyards in Italy, then you’re navigating bustling markets in Morocco. All without leaving home!

Travel movies let us experience cultures around the globe. They inspire our wanderlust and help plan real-life adventures. And sometimes they offer an escape when we need it most. Ready to dive into cinematic journeys that span continents?

In this article we’ll remind you of iconic films that have shaped this genre and discover more recent gems. So, grab some popcorn as we embark on a reel-world adventure.

25 best travel movies that will inspire you

Here’s a list of Worldpackers team’s favorite travel movies, which make us feel like we’re out and about without leaving our couch. Some films take this experience up a notch, offering more than just beautiful locales – they shape our understanding of travel itself.

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

We start this list of travel movies with a great example of that power of broadening perspectives: The Motorcycle Diaries isn’t simply about two friends exploring South America on a motorcycle. It’s the story of Che Guevara, discovering social injustices that would later ignite his revolutionary spirit. It has inspired many travelers who crave authentic experiences over typical tourist attractions.

As Ernesto Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado travel through various countries, the film portrays their interactions with diverse cultures, people, and landscapes. They witness the disparities in wealth and healthcare, which ignite Ernesto’s desire to bring about social change. 

The Motorcycle Diaries is a coming-of-age story that traces the evolution of Guevara from a carefree medical student to a passionate advocate for the oppressed. It’s an inspiring story combined with beautiful cinematography that encourages us not just to see new places but also understand different cultures better.

best travel movies

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

Feel like going for a classic? This film is based on the novel by Jules Verne and follows the journey of Phileas Fogg, an eccentric and wealthy Englishman who bets that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days.

The plot of the movie revolves around Fogg’s race against time as he embarks on an adventure across the globe, accompanied by his loyal French servant, Passepartout. They go on a daring journey using various means of transport – from hot air balloons to elephants – and encounter a series of comedic and sometimes perilous situations.

Eat Pray Love (2010)

You’ve probably heard of Eat Pray Love, a romantic drama film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of the same name. The movie follows the life-changing journey of the protagonist, Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, after going through a divorce.

She sets out on an expedition to find herself through food, spirituality, and love while traveling through Italy, India, and Bali respectively. This film emphasizes the healing power of travel and how it can help you find your inner self.

eat pray love takes you to indonesia

Into The Wild (2007)

Another book turned into film, this biographical drama directed by Sean Penn is based on the non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer. It tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man from a well-to-do family who decides to abandon his conventional life and venture into the wilderness of North America in pursuit of a more meaningful existence.

He renames himself “Alexander Supertramp”, cuts ties with his family and embarks on a journey across the USA, eventually reaching Alaska. Throughout his journey, Christopher encounters various people who impact his life.

Wild (2014)

For those who love biographical tales, here’s another one: Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, which chronicles her 1100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. 

It’s not just about stunning landscapes but also self-discovery and healing, since the character starts the hike after a series of destructive behaviors and the loss of her mother to cancer.

Throughout her journey, Cheryl encounters many challenges, including harsh weather, injuries, and the weight of her emotional baggage. Her journey becomes a test of her inner strength, determination, and resilience.

pacific crest trail

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

A modern classic, this film follows the life of Walter Mitty, a man who escapes his mundane existence through elaborate daydreams. He works as a photo negative manager at Life magazine, a job that involves processing photographs for publication.

One day he misplaces a crucial photograph negative taken by a renowned photographer and sets off to find the missing negative. This journey takes him on an adventure around the world, from Greenland to Iceland, going far beyond his comfort zone.

The Way (2010)

Dream of doing the Camino de Santiago, in Spain? The Way portrays one man’s pilgrimage along the Camino after his son’s death. 

The main character is Tom (played by Martin Sheen), who encounters a diverse group of fellow travelers, each with their own reasons for walking the pilgrimage. Together, they share stories, hopes, and struggles.

As Tom travels through picturesque landscapes and faces physical challenges, he not only learns to honor his son’s memory but also discovers profound insights about life, faith, and the power of human connections.

camino de santiago

Thelma and Louise (1991)

A road trip movie classic, Thelma & Louise tells the story of two women who set out on a weekend getaway but find themselves on the run from the law after a traumatic incident. Their journey becomes a symbolic escape from societal constraints, leading to a series of events that challenge the roles they’ve been assigned as women.

With every scene, more beauty unfolds as they drive amidst vast American landscapes in their iconic convertible. The film is a thrilling and thought-provoking exploration of friendship, empowerment, and the consequences of defying societal norms.

Roman Holiday (1953)

Another classic, Roman Holiday transports viewers back in time while offering picturesque views around Rome’s historic cityscape – perfect for those wanting both cultural immersion and vintage vibes.

The film revolves around the story of a young European princess named Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), who is on a diplomatic tour of Europe and becomes overwhelmed by the constraints of her royal duties and her sheltered life. 

It’s a love story that captures the magic of a whirlwind romance against the backdrop of the Italian capital.

one of the best classic travel movies

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Directed by Wes Anderson, the movie follows the journey of three estranged brothers who reunite for a train trip through India. They board the Darjeeling Limited, a luxury train, each dealing with his own personal struggles and unresolved issues.

As the train journey progresses through the picturesque Indian landscape, the brothers encounter many challenges and quirky situations. Along the way, they engage in both humorous and poignant interactions with fellow passengers and locals, leading to moments of self-discovery and reflection.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

Another treat for those longing to visit India, this heartwarming film tells the story of a group of British retirees who decide to spend their retirement years in a hotel in Jaipur. They face a variety of personal challenges and cultural adjustments as they settle into the vibrant and colorful environment of India.

The hotel is far from the luxurious paradise the retirees were expecting, but through their shared experiences and interactions with the local community, they find renewal, purpose, and unexpected opportunities for love and personal growth.

many good travel movies take place in india

Lost in Translation (2003)

Loneliness, connection, and cultural dislocation are the main themes of this drama-comedy directed by Sofia Coppola, which takes place in Japan.

The story revolves around Bob Harris, a middle-aged American actor who is in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey commercial, and Charlotte, a young college graduate accompanying her photographer husband.

Both Bob and Charlotte are feeling adrift in their lives and marriages, grappling with feelings of isolation and purposelessness in the bustling and culturally unfamiliar capital of Japan. Their chance encounter leads to a deep and platonic connection.

The Holiday (2006)

This romantic comedy follows the intertwining stories of two women, Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz), who are experiencing relationship troubles during the Christmas holiday season.

Iris is British and Amanda is American. Feeling the need for a break from their lives, they discover each other through a house-swapping website and decide to exchange homes for the holiday season. While their lives take unexpected turns, we feel like we’re exploring the English countryside and sunny California along with them.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

This travel movie follows the story of Frances (played by Diane Lane), a recently divorced writer who impulsively purchases a villa in Tuscany, Italy, in an attempt to start anew.

As Frances attempts to restore the villa to its former glory, she forms connections with the local community and undergoes a personal transformation, rediscovering her passion for life, writing, and love. The picturesque landscapes of Tuscany provide a stunning backdrop to the story.

tuscany makes a great scenery for travel movies

Tracks (2013)

Based on the true story of Robyn Davidson, this travel movie chronicles her remarkable journey across the vast Australian desert with a dog and four camels. She went on a solo trek of over 1,700 miles from Alice Springs to the west coast of Australia, motivated by a desire for solitude and a deep connection with the land.

Along the way, she faces various obstacles, including encounters with curious locals, harsh weather conditions, and the emotional toll of isolation. The film is a visually stunning and introspective portrayal of an extraordinary real-life adventure.

Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight (2013)

The “Before” trilogy, directed by Richard Linklater and starred by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, starts with the movie Before Sunrise, which follows the chance encounter of two strangers on a train traveling through Europe. They strike up a conversation and decide to spend the night together in Vienna, Austria, before Jesse’s departure the next morning.

Before Sunset, its sequel, takes place in Paris, where Jesse and Celine meet again 10 years later. Finally, Before Midnight takes the same characters to Greece, almost two decades before their first encounter.

The trilogy is celebrated for its realistic and emotionally charged dialogue. Each film captures a different stage in Jesse and Céline’s lives, offering insights into the complexities of love and human relationships, while they walk around beautiful cities.

vienna is the setting of before sunrise

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

This New Zealand adventure-comedy film follows the unlikely friendship between a rebellious young boy and his reluctant foster uncle as they become the subjects of a nationwide manhunt in the New Zealand wilderness.

As they navigate the rugged terrain, their relationship grows stronger, and they become unlikely partners in a wild adventure to evade capture by the authorities. Along the way, they encounter various colorful characters and face numerous challenges.

Patagonia (2010)

Probably one of the lesser-known films in this list of travel movies, Patagonia interweaves two distinct but interconnected stories that take place in different parts of the world, both involving characters on personal journeys of self-discovery.

One storyline follows Gwen and Rhys, a Welsh couple who travel to Patagonia in Argentina as part of a photography project. Their journey becomes a catalyst for Gwen’s personal exploration as she grapples with her desires and the changing dynamics of her relationship with Rhys.

The second storyline follows Cerys, an elderly Welsh woman who embarks on a pilgrimage to visit her family’s ancestral homeland in Patagonia, where there is a Welsh-speaking community. Along the way, she meets a young Argentine named Alejandro who is searching for his Welsh roots.


The Bucket List (2007)

This movie tells the story of two terminally ill men, Edward Cole (played by Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (played by Morgan Freeman), who meet while sharing a hospital room. Both men have been diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer and are given limited time to live.

As they grapple with their mortality and impending deaths, Edward and Carter decide to create a list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.” The two men embark on a global journey to check off the items on their list, forming a deep friendship along the way.

A Good Year (2006)

Directed by Ridley Scott, this movie follows the story of Max Skinner (played by Russell Crowe), a successful and ruthless London-based investment banker who inherits a vineyard in Provence, France, upon the death of his estranged uncle.

Max reluctantly travels to the vineyard with the intention of selling it quickly and making a profit. However, as he spends time in the picturesque countryside and reconnects with his childhood memories, he begins to reconsider his priorities and values.

travel movies

A Walk in the Woods (2015)

This film is based on the memoir of the same name by the well-known travel writer and author Bill Bryson. After living abroad for many years, Bryson returns to the United States and decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, one of the longest continuous footpaths in the world, together with an old acquaintance, Stephen Katz.

As Bryson and Katz traverse the Appalachian Trail, they face a series of humorous and challenging situations, including encounters with fellow hikers and with wildlife, and the physical demands of the trail itself. Along the way, they also engage in conversations about life, friendship, and the beauty of the natural world.

a walk in the woods takes place in the appalachian trail

Up (2009)

This list of travel movies wouldn’t be complete without some heartwarming animations. Starting with Up, a Pixar and Walt Disney film centered on the story of Carl Fredricksen, a widowed elderly man who embarks on a remarkable adventure using balloons to fly his house to South America.

It all starts when Carl finds himself facing eviction from his beloved home and missing his late wife, Ellie, who had shared his childhood dreams of adventure, so he decides to fulfill their lifelong dream of visiting the remote Paradise Falls

During the trip, he learns to let go of the past, embrace new experiences, and find joy in unexpected places.

Coco (2017)

There are also plenty of animations that take us on a deep dive in foreign cultures. One of the best travel movies of this kind is Coco, an animated musical film which is also produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney. The movie is set in Mexico and revolves around the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) holiday, a celebration of deceased loved ones.

The plot follows Miguel Rivera, a young boy with a deep passion for music, despite his family’s long-standing ban on music due to a past family tragedy. On Día de los Muertos, Miguel accidentally finds himself transported to the Land of the Dead, a vibrant and colorful afterlife realm where deceased family members reside.

animations are great options of travel movies

The impact of travel movies on tourism

Besides being great entertainment, travel movies can wield a remarkable influence over tourism. They can kindle wanderlust, highlight unique cultures, and even steer the course of travel trends.

Movies often inspire personal journeys by portraying transformative experiences tied to specific locales. Take Eat Pray Love, which ignited a Bali tourism boom as fans flocked there hoping for self-discovery adventures akin to Julia Roberts’ character.

Into The Wild, based on a true story, was another influential film. Despite its tragic ending, the movie encouraged many to seek their own version of an Alaskan wilderness experience.

Sometimes movies can create entirely new tourism trends. After Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings, fans began traveling to New Zealand just to see the stunning landscapes that brought Middle-earth to life. This trend even led to unique travel experiences like Hobbiton tours and “Middle-earth” packages designed specifically for Tolkien enthusiasts.

However, this popularity has its drawbacks. When travel movies gain too much traction, they can cause stress on the locations they showcase. One example is the Maya Bay beach, in Thailand, which was made famous in the movie “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and had to be closed to tourists due to the damages caused by overtourism.

maya bay beach

Tips for enjoying your favorite travel movies

We hope you enjoyed our list of travel movies, but luckily there’s much more to watch after you’re done with those films! Unearthing cinematic gems that inspire wanderlust and fuel the desire to explore is an adventure in itself. Here are a few suggestions to keep that habit going:

Talking to other travelers

One surefire way to discover great travel movies is by connecting with fellow globetrotters. They often have a treasure trove of film recommendations based on their own experiences and personal tastes.

You could start these conversations on platforms like Worldpackers, where you’ll find a vibrant community of seasoned and newbie travelers alike.

Keeping a travel movie journal

Maintaining a journal dedicated solely for recording memorable travel films can be rewarding too. As you note down details about each movie, it becomes more than just keeping track; it turns into an immersive activity that lets you savor each film long after the credits roll. This method also helps when sharing recommendations with friends or social media followers.

Planning themed movie nights

A fun twist is organizing themed movie nights around different countries or regions. Not only does this make for an entertaining evening but watching several related films in one go might highlight your next dream destination.

For instance, if South American culture piques your interest, consider watching films such as ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ and other movies that take place in the continent, whether they’re actually travel-related or not. This is a great way to dive into the richness of this vibrant region. And why not making a themed dinner as well?

watch travel movies with a themed dinner

Traveling to your dream movie destinations

What about visiting some of the destinations portrayed in your favorite travel movies and living your own amazing adventures? It’s easy to do so with Worldpackers, a platform that connects travelers to hosts from all over the world for volunteer and work exchange programs.

In exchange for a few hours of help, you’ll get free accommodation and other perks, like meals and tours. Besides saving a lot of money, you’ll get to meet other travelers and locals who can give you tips and insights into local culture, while living real-life adventures that might as well be turned into film someday.

Keep reading to understand how it works:

If you liked our list of travel movies, keep reading our blog and follow our social media accounts for more travel tips and inspiration! We’re on TikTok and Instagram.

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