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Travel Movies to Inspire Wanderlust

We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.

The next great adventure might feel like a far-off dream at the moment, but a night in is the perfect time to find inspiration for your next travel destination. Check out these eight travel movies for the ultimate dose of wanderlust.

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Eat Pray Love (2010)

Grass fields in Bali with Mount Agung in background
Credit: oww/ Unsplash

Love it or hate it, there is no denying Eat Pray Love still reigns supreme when it comes to inspiring wanderlust. Elizabeth Gilbert's real-life account of her time spent in Bali, Italy, and India is the basis for the film. The movie is a fictionalized account, starring Julia Roberts, but it shows how travel can lead to self-discovery. And that self-discovery can ultimately change your life for the better. It's a good lesson that travel can be the ultimate healer for some. Gilbert's adventures have inspired many would-be travelers to finally book that ticket.

7

The Beach (2000)

Boat in Khao Sok National Park, Khlong Sok, Thailand
Credit: robinnoguier/ Unsplash

If you've ever backpacked through Asia (or dreamed of doing it), then The Beach is the movie for you. It will either inspire you to take the trip or make you glad you stayed home. That's because Richard (played by a young and dashing Leonardo DiCaprio) starts out by experiencing the best of Thailand's backpacking culture. Hostels, parties, and swimming in glorious locations fill the first part of the movie. You'll be ready to start filling your own backpack for an adventure. Sit tight, though. The movie goes down some darker paths from there, but it's still one to watch when you want to see the good things that can come from a backpacking adventure.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Village, bay, and mountain views in Greenland
Credit: Beata Tabak/ Shutterstock

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is for any traveler stuck at a job they hate who dreams of hitting the road for an adventure. Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, has a boring office job where he's bullied and belittled. He uses daydreams to escape the doldrums of work. Any would-be adventurer has felt Walter's pain. Eventually, Walter makes his dreams a reality as he heads out on a mission to retrieve a photograph from his hero, a famous travel photographer. He explores exciting destinations like Greenland and even Afghanistan. Watch this one for inspiration to finally take that leap of faith into your next travel adventure.

5

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Train winding through New Delhi, India
Credit: Chetan Neware/ iStock

The Darjeeling Limited is about three brothers who get together for a train trip across India. It's directed by Wes Anderson, so you know it will be a feast for the eyes as well as a boost for your wanderlust. The train journey makes the three brothers face life, death, and each other — ending in reconciliation. It's the kind of travel movie that shows you the pain and joy of travel and how both are just as important. It's also as much about family as it is about travel. It shows the colorful warmth of India as well as why this can be a difficult place for travelers to visit on their own. Don't worry, though. You'll be googling Indian train journeys by the time the credits roll.

4

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Rolling hills of Tuscan vineyards in the Chianti wine region
Credit: georgeclerk/ iStock 

Experience the ultimate travel romance in Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances (Diane Lane) heads to Italy to try to get over her recent divorce. While she's there, she buys a Tuscan villa and romance ensues. This is a travel movie that will have you sighing dreamily and booking flights to Italy as soon as possible. The scenery is gorgeous, the food looks amazing, and who hasn't dreamed of running off to Italy to fall in love? Be sure you watch this one with a plate of pasta on hand, though. Popcorn simply won't cut it.

3

Roman Holiday (1953)

Vintage bicycle outside a cafe in Rome
Credit: Photo Beto/ iStock

Wanderlust-inspiring films aren't anything new. Roman Holiday is a gem starring the lovely Audrey Hepburn. Playing the part of a princess (naturally), Ann ditches her royal duties and heads to Rome to get a break. She soon strikes up a romance with an American reporter, who is played by Gregory Peck. They spend the rest of the movie enjoying the sights of Rome and falling in love. It's sweet and funny and sure to make you smile. Even though it's in black and white, it will inspire colorful daydreams about this Italian destination. Thankfully it's still popular enough to be easy to track down. If you need a break from the real world, this is the perfect cinematic getaway.

2

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Beautiful sunset over Cartagena, Colombia
Credit: Starcevic/ iStock 

The Motorcycle Diaries takes Che Guevara's real-life diaries about his trip across South America and turns them into a movie masterpiece. It was this trip that eventually inspired Guevara's role as a revolutionary. It's beautifully shot and the scenery of South America will quickly move the continent up on your list of must-visit places. It's a bittersweet travel movie, though. According to Biography, it's the poverty Guevara witnesses on the trip that ultimately led him to become a guerilla leader. It's a good reminder to travelers that not all destinations are the sparkling resorts we see on the front of a brochure. It may be the movie that inspires you to look into volunteering opportunities on your next travel adventure.

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Wild (2014)

The Pacific Crest Trail near Snoqualmie Pass
Credit: TobinAkehurst/ iStock 

Wild is another movie that's based on a book and worth your screen time. It's the fictionalized retelling of Cheryl Strayed's time walking the Pacific Crest Trail. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, this is a 2,650-mile-long trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. It travels all along the western coast of the United States. Strayed decided to walk the trail with little more than a backpack after the death of her mother and the end of her marriage. It's another travel movie that shows how physical travel can turn into spiritual transformation. The scenery is beautiful, but the trail is hard. The movie will either leave you inspired to make the journey yourself or feel happy to watch Strayed do it herself from the comfort of your sofa.

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