Travel means different things to different people. To me, it’s inextricably linked with storytelling. Every trip is full of interesting characters and plotlines - my imagination is free to run wild. I imagine what it must be like to live in each place I visit, reminisce about the stories of my past, and daydream about the possibilities of the future.
It’s for this reason that I love travel movies. I’m always inspired by seeing faraway places on the screen. Isn’t it amazing how we can be transported on crazy, eye-opening adventures - all from the comfort of our sofas?
While it might not be the real deal, watching travel movies makes for a great night in. Here are six of my favourites.
1) The Hundred Foot Journey
I studied French at university so I’m a sucker for anything with a French influence, especially when it combines travel with another one of my hobbies - cooking! The Hundred Foot Journey is about an Indian family who set up a traditional Indian restaurant directly opposite a fancy-pants Michelin-star French restaurant. There’s lots of food, laughter, and heartwarming moments as the two families find friendship, and even love.
Watch for: Stunning French scenery (and food!)
2) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I somehow missed all the buzz surrounding The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel when it was first released in 2011. I finally sat down to watch it late last year and I enjoyed every minute. The film follows a group of British retirees to India, where they were sold the dream of living out their golden years in a luxurious resort. The reality is a little different - the ‘resort’ is falling apart, the manager is disorganised (and distracted by love), and many of the retirees had barely set foot outside of their villages, let alone travelled to India. Chaos ensues, but the most heartwarming of lessons are learned - a truly beautiful story.
Watch for: Inspiration to travel at any age.
Have you read the book Tracks by Robyn Davidson? We read it as part of the Travelher Book Club a few months ago. It’s about one woman’s solo trek across the Australian outback. It’s not often I enjoy a movie better than the book, but seeing Robyn Davidson’s journey come to life on screen was in many ways more enjoyable than reading about it - the Outback scenery is truly mesmerising.
Watch for: What it’s like to walk across the Australian Outback
I’m always grateful for movies when they show me places I know I will probably never visit with my own two feet. Although I may make it to Nepal and see Everest from afar, I don’t think summiting this mountain is in my future - so watching this film felt like the next closest thing. Based on the 1996 Everest Disaster, where eight people died during a bad blizzard, this film is a tear-jerker - but you will leave feeling incredibly inspired.
Watch for: Incredible footage of Everest (seriously, I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E).
Don’t be put off by the fact this movie is animated - it’s so much more than ‘just another kid’s movie’! 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen is living alone and grieving his late wife (who was an avid traveller), when he finally decides to move on (by turning his house into a flying object, powered by helium balloons - naturally). He unsuspectingly takes his young neighbour, a boy called Russell, along for the ride. Together, they explore the South American rainforest and learn many important lessons - about themselves, about life, and about the beautiful world we live in.
Watch for: A reminder that the time to travel is now.
Another French film (I couldn’t help myself!). Amelie is not a travel film in the traditional sense - the characters don’t travel far. But as it’s set in Paris, it has a ‘travel-like’ feel for anyone who doesn’t live there. Amelie is a shy young woman living alone in Paris. She dedicates her life to helping other people find small bursts of happiness in their everyday lives. A light-hearted film, it’s uplifting, heartwarming, and an important reminder to invite gratitude into your life.
Watch for: An epic motorcycle ride through the streets of Paris.
What are your favourite travel films? Share in the comments below - I’m always on the lookout for new movies to watch.
Author - Jess O'Connor