We at LBW know that sometimes even the most dedicated globetrotter needs that extra little nudge out of the door. That's why we've slung together this list of the top nine travel movies to get the wanderlust flowing. They range from side-splitting comedies that showcase extraordinary corners of the globe to inspiring tales of human determination and travel. So, crack the popcorn out and enjoy…
Into the Wild
From the ice-topped peaks of Alaska to the roaring rapids of the Colorado River, the sweeping American deserts to the salt-washed Pacific coastline of the Big Sur, the scenery in this now-hallowed travel biopic is simply to die for. The film follows the emotive and moving tale of one Christopher McCandless (more famously known by his travel moniker Alexander Supertramp), who sheds the material world for all the affirming experiences of a life on the road. Boy can we relate to that!
Eat, Pray, Love
Leaving behind the nine-to-five rigmarole and a successful career back in the States, Elizabeth Gilbert heads off on a year-long odyssey through three of the world's most immersive countries: Italy, India and Indonesia. Romance, beautiful vistas of the Amalfi Coast, and – of course – mozzarella-topped pizzas come with the first. Spirituality oozes from the ashrams of the second. And finally, Bali comes with its chilled vibes, awesome beaches, wild jungles and uplifting character to balance the whole shebang out. We still think she should've come on an LBW tour!
The Darjeeling Limited
Colourful train carriages rattle their way through the dusty deserts of Rajasthan on this eye-catching and side-splitting piece by Wes Anderson. With all the director's unique and nuanced ways of framing things, and all the weirdness of his trademark characters, the film tells the tale of three brothers on a discovery mission across rural India. Cobras and Hindu babas both come up, meditation and eastern mysticism feature highly, while dark laughs penetrate throughout. Oh, and you'll be itching to visit the welcoming villages and beautiful wilds of northern India once you're done – we bet!
Once upon a time, little Bruges on the northern edge of West Flanders in Belgium, was just a sleepy stopover; popular with WWII buffs and history lovers. That was before Farrell and Gleeson and Martin McDonagh had their way with the town in this mind-boggling dark comedy. Today, the place is packed with natives of the Emerald Isle, Irish pubs pepper the streets, and there's oodles of visitors touring the filming sites. The movie itself is great, telling the dark and immersive story of two hitmen on an inexplicable jaunt to "fairy-tale" Bruges, complete with its mist-topped Gothic towers and winding cobbled lanes where anything can happen…
A film that took a whole generation to Thailand, The Beach is now a sacred piece of Silver Screen history for any millennials who heeded the call. Koh Phangan and Samui, Phi Phi and Koh Tao were never the same again after Leo DiCaprio revealed the shimmering lagoons and whitewashed beaches of the Land of Smiles for all to see. Granted, he was supposed to be in a hidden paradise somewhere in the Thai Gulf, where just a select few people are chosen to go and life a utopian life beneath the palms (we still believe we'll be chosen!), but Southeast Asia's packed with those sort of places…really.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Following the travails of one Walter Mitty as he hops across the planet in search of the head photographer of the magazine he works for, this fast-paced travel movie can often seem like just an excuse to showcase some of the world's most dramatic locations: the smoke-spluttering volcano of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland; the snow-topped massifs of the Nepalese Himalaya; the empty tundra of Greenland. But there's actually more to this than that – the movie is a life-affirming and uplifting tale of human respect, love, resilience and hard work. Don't miss it.
On the Road
It's probably fair to say that any incarnation of Jack Kerouac's great bible of beatnik travel will do something to fire up the wanderlust valves. This 2012 redux by the director Walter Salles combines all the frenetic energy of Dan Moriarty's and Sal Paradise's youthful jaunts across the USA, flitting from grimy boxcars to free-love fests in San Francisco to tequila-fuelled blowouts in Mexico (hey, we've all been there, right?). It's at once an uplifting and dramatic take on the mad peregrinations of the post-war generation.
Lost in Translation
BAFTAs and film award nominations came thick and fast for this thought-provoking movie by Sofia Coppola after it was released way back in 2003. It's easy to see why. The framing of the calm hotel interior in contrast to the crazy streets of Tokyo outside; the charged exchanges between the two leading characters; the trademark pizzazz of Scarlett Johansson, and – of course – that loveable pessimism of Bill Murray – it all comes together to create a travel movie that showcases perfectly the importance of those human encounters on the road. Meet people when you're abroad, it changes your life. We guess that's the message.
At times, the mindless idiocy of the four travellers in EuroTrip just reeks of Dumb and Dumber. Constantly making trouble and sticky situations across the continent, their endless tribulations mean that you're not likely to find any uplifting moments in this comedic little travel biopic. That said, the exaggerated stereotypes of the places and people along the way, from post-commie Bratislava to sexed-up Amsterdam, alcohol-fuelled London to romantic Paris, are usually enough to get any veterans of Europe pining for the place again. And it's a pretty good laugh, too.
We know there are loads more top travel films that should inspire the wanderlust this year. If you can think of any, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below. Or, if the Silver Screen hits above have done enough to get you pining for a tad more globetrotting, be sure to check out LBW's line-up of tours, from beautiful Bali to wild Costa Rica to Europe and beyond.
We believe that travel is not a reward for working, but the most valuable and impactful form of education for life. We aren’t just a travel company; we were built to introduce you to the rest of the world. LBW Travel is about more than taking vacation time. We connect you with people and offer experiences that will change the way you look at your world. Travel reminds us what is truly important: family, friendship, love, exploration and adventure.
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