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20 Films You Can Watch Now Which Will Inspire You To Travel Later

A postcard from our home to yours with the best travel movies to spark your wanderlust.
20 Films You Can Watch Now Which Will Inspire You To Travel Later
Jacqueline Parisi

When it comes to deciding where to travel, films are some of the best sources of inspiration. In one night, a movie can transport you to the tranquil, azure waters and sandy beaches of Thailand, or the busiest intersection in the world in Shibuya. You can wander down the narrow cobblestone streets of Rome, explore street markets in Mexico City, traverse the treacherous Pacific Crest Trail, or embark on an adventure in Alaska.

And once your mind returns from its travels back to the comfort of your couch, the only question that remains is...where to, next?

In our world today—where travel is a temporary impossibility—Hollywood films are the next best mode of transportation.

These are 20 of the best travel movies to spark your wanderlust.

1. Mamma Mia

Inspires us to explore the Greek islands

Mamma Mia is a musical romantic comedy based on the iconic songs of ABBA. The film follows a bride-to-be who invites three men to her wedding on a stunningly secluded Greek island with the hopes of figuring out which is her biological father. The star-studded cast includes Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, and Meryl Streep.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

2. The Way

Inspires us to explore northwest Spain's Galicia region

When Dr. Thomas Avery's adult son passes away during a storm in the Pyrenees while walking the Camino de Santiago, Dr. Avery decides to embark on the Catholic backpacking pilgrimage himself to pay homage to his son. Along the way, he encounters fellow pilgrims, all of whom are walking the historic path for different reasons as they search for meaning in their lives.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

3. Call Me By Your Name

Inspires us to explore Northern Italy

Set in the sun-drenched Italian Lombardy region in the summer of 1983, Call Me By Your Name tells the story of 17-year-old Elio Perlman's coming-of-age relationship with Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who's spending the summer as an intern for Elio's father. The drama is rendered all the more romantic under the backdrop of Italy's postcard-perfect lakes region.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube

4. Doctor Strange

Inspires us to explore Nepal

This 2016 superhero film is based on the eponymous Marvel Comics character, Dr. Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). After a tragic car accident leaves him with extensive nerve damage and residual trembling in his hands, he eschews traditional medicine and instead travels to Kamar-Taj, Nepal to explore magical, alternate realities under the tutelage of "the Ancient One."

How to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube

5. Pride & Prejudice

Inspires us to explore the English countryside

Pride & Prejudice is the film adaption of Jane Austen's classic. It centers around the five Bennet daughters, the second eldest of which (Elizabeth) bears the brunt of their parents' mounting pressure to marry. When she meets a sophisticated, albeit aloof, young man by the name of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth takes an immediate dislike to him. But not for long...

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

6. Before Sunrise

Inspires us to explore Vienna

This 1995 classic tells the story of Jesse, an American played by a young Ethan Hawke, who meets a French woman, Céline (played by Julie Delpy) on a train. Together, they decide to disembark in Vienna. Over the course of one night exploring the city and getting to know each other, the two fall in love, with the oh-so-important question being...will they see each other again?

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

The two other films in the trilogy are Before Midnight (takes place in Greece) and Before Sunset (takes place in Paris).

7. Little Women

Inspires us to explore Concord, Massachusetts (and Paris)

Little Women is a film adaptation of the classic, beloved literary tale. It tells the story of the four March sisters—Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth—each of whom is determined to live life on her own terms in post-Civil War America. This coming-of-age drama is set in the idyllic New England countryside, with certain scenes taking place across the pond in 19th-century Paris. The most recent 2019 adaptation stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube.  

8. The Motorcycle Diaries

Inspires us to explore Brazil and Peru

Before Ernesto "Che" Guevara enters his last semester of medical school, he decides to take a road trip from Brazil to Peru by motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado. Along the way, the two bear witness to the wealth and privilege disparities of South America, pitting their youthful hedonism against the poverty of the indigenous populations. The result? A coming-of-age drama that explores the complexities of Latin American identity.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube

9. Under The Tuscan Sun

Inspires us to explore Tuscany

When Frances Mayes (played by Diane Lane) gets a divorce, her friends attempt to cheer her up by encouraging her to take a trip to Italy. What they didn't realize was that, along the way, she'd impulsively decide to purchase a villa in rural Tuscany. What follows is an engaging, romantic tale of a woman starting her life anew and maybe, just maybe, opening her heart to love again.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

10. Midnight In Paris

Inspires us to explore Paris

Written and directed by Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris tells the story of Gil Pender, an aspiring novelist who, while on vacation with his fiancée in Paris, begins to wander the city alone at night. When he encounters a group of familiar, 1920s-era Parisian faces—including Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, and Ernest Hemingway—Gil is transported back in time. As he spends more nights with these literary and artistic icons, Gil becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his life—and the divergent values in his relationship.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

11. Eat Pray Love

Inspires us to explore Italy, India, and Bali

When the newly divorced Liz Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) decides she needs a change in her life, she decides to embark on a year-long adventure of self-discovery and healing: three months in Italy, three months in India, and three months in Bali. Along the way, this biographical romantic drama—and true story—follow's Gilbert's quest for nourishment, prayer, and inner peace as she grapples to find meaning at this crossroads of her life.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

12. The Sound Of Music

Inspires us to explore Austria

The Sound Of Music tells the real-life tale of the Von Trapp family in post-World War II Europe. When a young woman named Maria (played by Julie Andrews) comes to work as a governess for the widowed naval captain's seven children, she brings with her a love of music that inspires the family—even as they're losing their homeland to the Nazis.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

13. The Lord Of The Rings

Inspires us to explore New Zealand

If you haven't gotten around to watching The Lord Of The Rings series, now's the perfect time to start. The film—which was entirely shot in New Zealand—follows the Dark Lord Sauron as he seeks the One Ring, which Frodo Baggins possesses. Set in Middle-earth, the film follows this young hobbit as he and eight others travel to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube

14. Frankie

Inspires us to explore Sintra, Portugal  

This American-French drama, which first premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of three generations as they embark on a trip to Portugal with Frankie (played by Isabelle Hupert). The catch? Frankie is dying, and as such, has brought along her husband, ex-husband, son, stepdaughter, and close friend on this somber "last hurrah" on the beaches of Sintra.  

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube

15.  Lost In Translation

Inspires us to explore Tokyo

When Bob Harris—a lonely movie star experiencing mid-life crisis-esque symptoms—travels to Tokyo to star in a Japanese whiskey commercial, he meets Charlotte—a recently married young woman accompanying her photographer husband on a trip. Together, the two explore the bright lights of Tokyo as they develop an unlikely, but heart-warming, friendship.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

16. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Inspires us to explore Greenland, Iceland, and The Himalayas

To escape his life of monotony in New York developing photographs day after day for Life magazine, Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) escapes into a world of adventurous daydreams that position him as the hero—until the day he gets the chance to embark on a real-life adventure as a backpacker across Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue of Life.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

17. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Inspires us to explore Barcelona

Not long after arriving in Spain for the summer, two Americans, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), meet a painter by the name of Juan Antonia (Javier Bardem). He promptly invites them both to his home for a lustful weekend of food, art, and sex. What they didn't know, however, was that his former lover (Penélope Cruz) would be joining.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

18. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Inspires us to explore India

When a group of British retirees go searching for a less expensive (and more exciting) spot to retire, they land on India—and the promise of what advertisements are touting as a lush life of leisure at the Marigold Hotel. When they arrive, however, they're faced with a reality that is anything but what they imagined. What follows is a story that celebrates the power of building relationships, finding love, and learning new things about yourself—even when it seems like it's too late in life to do so.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, iTunes

Another great travel film that takes place in India? The Darjeeling Limited.

19. Notting Hill

Inspires us to explore London

There's nothing extraordinary about William Thacker's life—until, that is, the world-famous American actress, Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), walks into his travel bookstore tucked away in London's Notting Hill neighborhood. Over the course of the film, Thacker (Hugh Grant) and Scott develop a secret relationship that's all-too-easily threatened by their divergent lifestyles.

How to watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

20. The Dressmaker

Inspires us to explore the Australian countryside

This 2015 part-revenge, part-comedy, part-drama film centers on the character of Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage, a famous dressmaker who returns to her small Australian hometown to care for her ailing mother and seek revenge on the locals who accused her of murder as a child. It's based on the eponymous 2000 novel by Rosalie Ham.

How to watch: Google Play, YouTube


What are your favorite travel movies of all time? Any that we missed? Let us know by tagging @gojourny on Instagram.

inspiration
24 March 2020
7 min read

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