We’re currently living in uncertain times yet two things are for certain: travel is temporarily put on hold and you’ve got some spare time on your hands to stream more movies than usual. Considering you may have had to cancel an upcoming trip, why not take a virtual vacation by watching the best travel movies to help satisfy your wanderlust—at least for now. If anything, these films may inspire your next getaway, so you may want to take some notes in between those bites of popcorn.
The entire world is going through this global pandemic together so it’s important to stayhappy and healthyduring the weeks—maybe even months—ahead. Along with working out, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, keeping your home tidy, and setting up theperfect remote workspace, don’t feel guilty about putting your feet up and letting your mind transport itself to the olive groves in Italy, the incense-filled streets of India, or a bush camp in Africa. Don’t worry, you’ll bepacking your bags again before you know it.
Before diving into the list of adventure movies, let’s first discuss the ways you can access these fine films. As you are well aware, there are copious streaming options available today, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV, Crackle, HBO, Showtime, and more. Some are subscription-based whereas others allow you to make a one-off purchase or rental. The upside to these services is that there’s a ton of variety out there. The downside is that sometimes your favorite movie isn’t available or disappears from the lineup.
To save time when looking for your favorite films, opt for a metasearch website such asReelgood orJustWatch. Simply type in the title of the movie and you’ll be given the choice of 85-plus streaming services where it’s currently available to watch.
Best Travel Movies
1. Eat, Pray, Love
One can’t possibly come up with a list of the best list of travel adventure movies without listing this cinematic gem. Julia Roberts does a phenomenal job of recreating the true-life story of Elizabeth Gilbert, the actual woman who went on a three-month adventure of a lifetime in Italy, Rome, and Bali. But whether or not you can identify with someone who needed to go off and find themself is irrelevant.
The captivating cinematography truly transports you to these three wonderful destinations, each bringing a different experience to the table. The film is also a reminder that we need to be mindful and present—who couldn’t use that lesson right now?
2. Leap Year
Anna Brady (Amy Adams) is bummed when another anniversary with her boyfriend passes without a proposal. She decides to play into an old Celtic tradition that allows women to pop the question on February 29—aka leap year. She follows her boyfriend Jeremy to Ireland with this intention, yet everything that could possibly go wrong does, with the exception of fate taking a twist in a way Anna had never imagined. This charming rom-com truly captures some beautiful scenery of the Emerald Isle—and we’re not just talking about the handsome Irishman Declan Anna meets along the way.
3. Under the Tuscan Sun
When writer Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) becomes aware that her husband has been unfaithful, she decides to drown her sorrows with some Chianti in Italy with her best friend Patti (Sandra Oh.) After settling in, she spontaneously decides to take a permanent vacation by investing in a rural villa (a real fixer-upper) so she can start a new life under the Tuscan sun.
While this sounds like a dream every divorcee would like to experience (even for the wine and food alone), her journey has its share of ups and downs—which is not surprising as this is another screenplay based on a true story. Along with the Tuscan countryside, there are some stunning scenes shot in Positano (where love interest Marcello has an apartment), Florence, and Rome—you’ll love the Trevi Fountain scene.
4. Midnight in Paris
The city of love (and light) boasts stunning architecture, the most popular museum in the world (the Louvre), world-class restaurants, and romantic charm that unexplainably stirs the soul and leaves a permanent mental souvenir to all those who visit. At least, that’s what Paris is to Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a screenwriter and aspiring novelist who is vacationing with his less-than-enthusiastic (and materialistic) fiancée and her parents.
One night while visiting the city alone, Gil becomes swept back into time. He finds himself partying with icons such as Cole Porter, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Gertrude Stein. Gil continues to return every night (at midnight) to obtain advice from his new “friends” regarding life, love, and his novel.
The more time he spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present. The film was Woody Allen’s brilliant way of exploring themes of nostalgia and modernism while giving us a stunning visual interpretation of what Paris was like during the jazz age.
5. Out of Africa
With the goal of being a dairy farmer, the privileged Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) travels to Africa to join her husband, Bror (Klaus Maria Brandauer), who convinces her to invest their money into a coffee plantation instead. She begins to develop feelings for hunter Denys (Robert Redford), which continue to flourish after learning that Bror has been unfaithful. However, Karen and Denys’ different backgrounds remain a perpetual point of contention which forces Karen to make a difficult decision.
We won’t spoil the ending, but you’re going to want to have some tissues nearby. The film is shot on some beautiful real-life locations in Africa, including the luxe Karen Blixen Camp and museum (the author who wrote this true-life story), Ngong Hills, safaris in Masai Mara, and sweeping aerial shots over Kenya.
6. The Talented Mr. Ripley
Believing he is someone his son went to university with, Tom (Matt Damon) is summoned by a wealthy man to travel to Venice in order to convince his son, Dickie (Jude Law), to return to the US. He quickly becomes obsessed with Dickie's lavish lifestyle, so he resorts to extreme measures to impersonate the wealthy socialite hew was mistaken for.
As lies get out of control and relationships are strained, things quickly spiral out of control and take a turn for the worse. The plot may be dark but the scenery is anything but. The film is like taking an Italian vacation to the cliffside resort town of Positano and various villages on the islands of Ischia and Procida, near Naples—these spots were used to represent the fictional town of "Mongibello".
7. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Not knowing one another, a group of British retirees (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy) decide to retire in India because it’s less expensive than their homeland. But when they arrive at the “newly restored Marigold Hotel” to live out their golden years in a lush and comfortable environment, they are instead entering a rundown facility that is merely a shell of what it was in the past.
While their new abode is nothing like they imagined, each individual is to let go of part of their past in order to be present. Their lives interlace with their host/hotel manager (Dev Patel) who is also trying to get a grip on his life. Between the hypnotic music and the visually stimulating and colorful shots around Jaipur and Udaipur, you’ll be sure to be transported to India while watching this heartfelt film.
Yet another film where personal tragedy prompts a trip to help heal the mind and soul. After the loss of her mother and a divorce that prompted self-destructive tendencies, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) makes a decision to take a solo hike to the Pacific Crest Trail (one of the longest and most difficult treks in the country) despite having no experience roughing it in the great outdoors. With only a heavy backpack strapped to her tiny body, she begins her voyageinthe Mojave Desert in Southern California. She encounters several people along the way who help her on her journey to self-discovery.
Visually, this film is the best way to experience such a beautiful hike risk-free, though you can also visit the individual Oregon locations such as Mount Hood, Crater Lake, Ashland, Smith Rock State Park, Portland, Paulina Lake Lodge, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, the Badlands, and the Bridge of the Gods.
9. Roman Holiday
Anyone with an affinity for classic films has to have this 1950s gem in their collection. Bored with her lavish lifestyle, visiting European princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) puts her duties aside for a night while in Rome. She’s found sleeping on a park bench by an American reporter, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who proceeds to take her back to her place so she’s out of harm’s way. Once he finds out her true identity, he starts plotting to get an exclusive interview with the princess—that is, until love becomes the top priority.
This film is a fun way to see what a trip to Rome was like over 70 years ago, which we’re sure had fewer crowds than today. Fun fact: The barbershop (across from the Trevi fountain) where the princess gets her chic new haircut is now a store that sells leather goods—a good photo opp next time you’re in the Eternal City.
10. National Lampoon’s European Vacation
While the originalVacation could easily make this list, too, we opted for the European trip because it incorporated more appealing locations such as Paris, Rome, London, Stonehenge, “Germany” (this was actually Italy!), and various locations in Italy.
But it’s not about the places visited that makes this movie so great. It’s the fact that Chevy Chase provides non-stop laughter and let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a good laugh right now? From slap-off dance in Germany to dressing in over-the-top Italian fashions after having all of their clothing stolen, this 80s classic is sure to help you forget about the current state of affairs for a little while
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