Our Top 10 Favourite Travel Movies

We’re big movie fans. We like them. We like the funny ones, and the serious ones, and the ones that make you worry if your doors are locked. 

We especially enjoy movies about travel. Whether they give you insight into the travel experience, or transport you to another land, they can help you understand a little bit more about the world without leaving your sofa! (But seriously, leave your sofa every once in a while as well.)

So, without further ado, our Top 10 Favourite Travel Movies! (For the record, these rankings are somewhat arbitrary. I love all these films, and all are absolutely worth a watch.)

10. Indiana Jones, the original triology. 

temple.jpgThe original travel movies. God, I love Indiana Jones!

I’d say my favourite is Temple of Doom. He starts off in China, then travels to India, and gets into all sorts of exotic hi-jinx! For the record, we were never made to eat monkey brains while we were there. 

In Raiders of the Lost Ark you can see him go to Peru and Egypt. 

In The Last Crusade he is in Utah, Portugal,  Venice, and ends up in Germany. 

I’ve tried twice to get through Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but have yet to succeed. Anyone think it’s even worth a try?

9. Whale Rider


This movie is just incredible.

Released in 2002, it’s an older one, but really got a lot of attention when the leader actress  became the youngest ever to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.

If you haven’t seen this one, run out and get it! It not only makes you desperately wish to visit  New Zealand, but also provides some fascinating background into Maori culture. 

8. Nowhere In Africa

africa.jpg I actually haven’t seen this one, but Rob assures me it’s excellent.

 The Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film supports that fact, I suppose!

 The story of a Jewish family who moves to Africa to escape the Nazi regime, this film gives  insight into living in a foreign place, and the magic of Africa. 

7. The Beach


When I first saw this movie, I thought it was strange. Downright odd. “Messed up” so to speak. 

Then I actually spent a long time traveling away from home, and I definitely started to relate to what the main character goes through. No, I haven’t gone totally crazy while traveling. But, well, you can really feel like you’re losing your mind a little bit. Just a little bit though. Don’t worry :) 

The book was indeed better than the movie, but it’s a fun watch, and some good insight into the mental trip that you can experience in a strange place.

If you travel to Ko Phi Phi (the setting of the film) you’ll see The Beach played at every restaurant, every day. If you prefer to watch it in the comfort of your own hostel room, worry not. It’s widely available on bootlegged DVDs on every street. And if paperbacks are more your style, counterfeit copies are also an option. Just check to make sure it has all the pages first. I learned that the hard way. 

6. Slumdog Millionaire

slumdog.jpgAh, the dark horse that won the Oscar. The movie that literally had all of Twitter talking. 

We’d consider this to be a really good insight into what it’s like to travel India. Bollywood films, while unbelievably entertaining, gloss over many of the more difficult aspects of being there. Slums, garbage, poverty: these are not easy things to be confronted with for the first time as an affluent Westerner. I have heard of many travellers leaving India after a few days because they were completely unprepared for what they would face. That’s a very sad fact.

India is an incredible place. Don’t get me wrong for a moment. It completely captured our hearts, and I know we will return many times in our lifetime. But I think this film was brave in it’s honesty, and I hope viewers of this one will see the radiant beauty of the country and people, even in the midst of the slums. 

5. Seven Years in Tibet 


We watch this movie at least once a year. That means we have to put up with an extremely questionable accent from Mr. Pitt. But it’s worth it.

Tibet is one of those places that still remains clouded in an air of mystery for me. The landscape, the people, the way of life all seem so wonderfully different. It’s a destination that I know would truly change me after journeying there. For that reason, I’m desperate to go. One day. There is so much in this world to explore!

This movie is touching and fascinating, most notably because it is indeed based on a true story. If you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend it. If you have seen it, watch it again. It’s a great one. 

4. The Motorcycle Diaries


This is the story of a motorcycle journey that Che Guevara took with his friend when he was a young man. They traveled through South America, hitting up Chile, Peru and Venezuela along the way. 

This film is not only visually stunning, and incredibly entertaining, but it really hits at what we find to be such an important result of traveling; the way a foreign land and people can completely change the way you see yourself.

The tagline says it much more succinctly: Before he changed the world the world changed him

This one will also make you want to visit South America. Note our recent return from Peru :)

3. Into the Wild


Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is the story of the life of Christopher McCandless, a young man who left behind his “regular life” to hit the road and explore the world around him. 

He travels around the United States, crosses Canada, and explores the incredible landscape of Alaska. Even though he doesn’t jet off to exotic countries, he still experiences all the ups and downs of travel. You really don’t need to go far. 

This one really shows the beauty of a life of travel, and how much you can learn from those you meet. Make sure to give the book a read as well. 

2. The Painted Veil


Such a truly, truly beautiful film. Set in China in the 1920s, it tells of the story of two young Brits who travel across the world to being a new life in a foreign land.

This movie gives you a glimpse into life in China. Though it was set a long time ago, I suspect there are places that haven’t changed all that much since then. People still grow their rice in paddies, and weed them by hand. They still somehow survive without high speed internet. Once you leave North America, and realize that our utter dependence on technology isn’t a necessity, you start to *need* it a whole lot less.

This movie also deals with the issues of traveling as a couple, and how the hardships you face can bring you together. 

I think I’ve made it sound boring, but it’s anything but. This is a fantastic film, no matter if you’re a traveler or not. 

1. The Darjeeling Limited


This is probably my favourite movie of all time. It’s totally my style. Quirky, weird, silly. and witty. I actually get confused when people say they didn’t like it, but I suppose I just like it a bit too much. :)

In comparing this one to Slumdog Millionaire, it certainly gives a less realistic view of India. Instead, it captures the magic of the subcontinent, for India is truly magical. Somehow, amidst the pungent smells, the deafening noise, the pollution and overwhelming crush of humanity, India manages to capture the hearts of so many people from every walk of life. It’s bold, and unabashedly so. And it’s proud in such a energetic way as to make you proud as well, even though you aren’t even the least bit Indian. 

Watch this movie. I probably will within a few days now that I’m thinking about it again. And then go to India ;) Just don’t expect your train to look anything like theirs!!

What are your favorite travel movies? Tell us in the comments!!

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