The BEST films about travelling: all on Netflix UK or Prime
January 2, 2020
Is it movie night in your household tonight? Looking for films about travelling that you haven’t yet seen before, or want to revisit some classic adventure movies? Then read on…
We are travel addicts in this family. When we’re not actually travelling, or planning travels, or even talking, writing and reading about travels, what do we do? We watch films about travel! We have watched every single travel film on this list, and every single one gets our personal recommendation.
And if you’re looking for the best travel movies on Netflix UK or best travel movies on Prime, you can find all these films on either or both!
But be warned, watching these travel films will give you a serious bout of itchy feet and may lead to flight purchases.
1. The Beach (2000)
Perhaps our all time favourite travel film and a true classic. Richard, a backpacker in his 20s comes across a strange map that leads him and his friends to a solitary beach paradise. Anyone who has travelled Thailand can relate to the buzzing scenes of Th Khao San in Bangkok and the tropical island vibes in this evocative blockbuster adapted from Alex Garland’s book of the same name. Directed by Danny Boyle and starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, this film may leave you questioning the costs your own travel adventures, despite the extreme ending.
2. Wild (2014)
Reese Witherspoon stars in this extraordinary true story based on the best selling novel. Cheryl Strayed, a girl in her 20s who recently lost her mother, decides to start a new life by hiking along the 1,100 mile-long Pacific Crest Trail in the USA. As with all travel with a purpose, the miles walked provides Cheryl with the time and space to reflect on her life and she begins to discover herself. Have the tissues handy.
3. Lost in Translation (2003)
Shot entirely on location in Japan, this is a heartfelt film about loneliness and human connection, and is one of our favourite travel films of all time. It beautifully captures the feeling of confusion and alienation which can affect travellers when they first arrive in a new country, stepping out of their comfort zone, and is a film you will be thinking about for days after watching.
4. The Way (2010)
After hearing the devastating news that his son was killed in a storm in the Pyrenees while walking The Camino de Santiago, Tom, an eye doctor from California, flies out to France to collect his son’s remains. Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage to honour his son, leaving his ashes along the trail. Through the weeks of walking and the characters he meets along the way, Tom begins to understand his son’s passion for travel and in turn learns more about himself and what he wants from life. Another tear-jerker this one.
5. Into the Wild (2007)
Directed by Sean Penn, this is a true story pieced together from family accounts and journals from Christopher McCandless who was found dead in an abandoned bus in the depths of Alaska in 1992. He was a successful graduate and top student from Emory University, who abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 law school fund to Oxfam, and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. An outstanding film, with an extremely sad ending.
6. Up (2009)
Easily our favourite travel film for all the family. This animated comedy adventure from Pixar Studios shows that you’re never too old or too young to travel. Carl Fredricksen, a 70 year old retired balloon salesmen, never made it to the wilds of South America with his wife, even though they always dreamed about travelling there together. His wife has sadly passed away, but he ends up fulfilling his dream with the help of balloons and a young scout.
7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
Our regular readers will know that we used to live in India and so we easily fell in love with this film. There’s also a sequel! The film beautifully captures the chaos and colour of this contradicting country, where a group of British retirees travel to Jaipur to stay at the supposedly newly restored Marigold Hotel. Less luxurious than advertised, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways and will have you both laughing and crying at the same time.
8. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
A quirky one and perhaps not to everyone’s taste. But if you allow yourself be drawn into the vivid imagination of Walter Mitty, you will be transported to the vast open plains of Greenland, Iceland (which is one of our favourite family travel destinations) and Afghanistan’s Himalayas. It’s beautifully shot, and has the powerful message that resonates with all travellers, in that travel changes you for the better.
9. Tracks (2014)
A remarkable true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman, who leaves her life in the city behind to make a trek through 1,700 miles of sprawling Australian desert with just four camels and a dog for company. Expect epic Australian landscapes and beautifully raw acting.
10. Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
Some say this film is excruciatingly corny, yet for others, including myself, it’s a feel-good film that provides the warm and fuzzy vibes. Believing there’s more to life than a husband, house and career, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) leaves New York and embarks on a yearlong journey travelling to Italy (for good food), India (to meditate) and Bali (to perhaps find true love). Based on the best-selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert.
11. Holiday in the Wild (2019)
The dialogue is cliche, the plot is predictable, and the repertoire of Kristin Davis is barely stretched, but if you love elephants, you love an African safari, and you’re looking for some easy viewing, this Netflix produced film is worth a watch. Filmed in South Africa, a Manhattanite flies solo to Zambia for her second honeymoon (after her husband walked out on her, the same day her son leaves for college) and ends up working at an elephant sanctuary.
12. The Inbetweeners 2 (2014)
The Inbetweeners TV series is one of the most hilarious British comedies to grace our screen. There have been two spin off films made, but our favourite has to be when the misfit foursome head downunder. When Neil, Will and Simon arrive in Australia to find that Jay’s life in Sydney’s ‘sex capital of the world’ isn’t quite all he has been saying, Will decides they have an opportunity to do some ‘real’ travelling. Cue a romp through camp-fire singing, unintentional proposals, water-slide disgrace, dolphin feeding and a trip to the outback.
13. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Three American brothers (Francis, Peter, and Jack) who have not spoken to each other since their father’s funeral a year ago, set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other. Francis is recovering from a motorcycle accident, Peter cannot cope with his wife’s pregnancy, and Jack cannot get over his ex-lover. The brothers fall into old patterns of sibling behaviour and the spiritual quest gets rather complicated.
14. A Map for Saturday (2007)
A documentary of solo backpacker Brook Silva-Braga’s travels for one year across the globe. Follow his well trodden path from Australia, South East Asia, India, Nepal, Europe and Brazil and perhaps reminisce about your young backpacker days before you started travelling the world with kids in tow. It’s an honest account of life on the road for a young single traveller and very relatable. And why the title? Well, every day feels like a Saturday when you’re travelling!
15. 180° South (2010)
A Netflix film that follows Jeff Johnson as he retraces a legendary 1968 trip to Patagonia undertaken by his heroes, Yvon Choinard and Doug Tomkins. This film may get you packing your bags and jumping on a sailing boat to South America. You’ve been warned.
16. Out of Africa (1985)
An oldie but goodie, and an absolute must if you’re planning a trip to Africa. Set in colonial Kenya, a Danish Baroness (Meryl Streep) has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter (Robert Redford). This epic film won seven Oscars in 1986, including Best Picture and Best Director, so it must be good.
17. Thelma and Louise (1991)
Another Oscar-winning, classic travel film. Thelma and Louise set off on a girls road trip for some fun and excitement, but after Louise shoots dead a guy who tried to rape Louise, they decide they have no choice but to go on the run. One of the first true feminist films.
18. Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)
It was actually seeing the stage show of this film in Sydney that prompted me to watch this classic Aussie film. Two drag queens and a transsexual travel across the vast Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a battered old bus (called Priscilla) to perform their cabaret. It’s fabulously hilarious with wonderfully outrageous costumes, but surprisingly tender at times.
19. Before Sunrise (1995)
An American guys meets a French girl on a train, and they impulsively decide to get off the train and spend the evening together in Venice before he has to fly back to home the US. What this film lacks in plot development, it gains in romantic charm, and if you really love it, this is just the first film of a trilogy.
20. The Endless Summer (1966)
The ultimate surfing film directed by Bruce Brown follows two young surfers from California around the world in search of the perfect wave. In his narration, Brown muses that if someone had enough time and money, they could literally follow the summer around the globe, and he takes us to Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii and California.
21. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Two best friends, Vicky and Cristina, with opposing views to love, embark on a summer in Barcelona. The plot line of them falling for the same man sounds cliché, but the clever dialogue and superb acting make this romantic travel film something different; although the character that really seduces us all is Barcelona.
22. Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (1997)
No list of films about travelling is complete without a film about Everest. There are so many films and documentaries about this beast of a mountain to choose from, but my favourite has to be ‘Into Thin Air’; a personal account from Jon Krakauer of the horrific 1996 Mt Everest Disaster where eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a storm. Hubby and I hiked to Everest Base Camp from the Nepal side in 2012, and this film really hit home.
So that’s a wrap on our best films about travelling. There are A LOT more travel films around, but these are our ultimate favourites. If you have any favourite adventure films that aren’t on this list, then let me know, and we’ll have to check them out! I will be updating this post regularly as there are always new travel films coming out, or old classics still to find, so keep this page bookmarked.
Were you an intrepid backpacker in your previous life? Exploring distant and exotic lands on a budget, getting off the beaten track and feeling like you were doing something different? Now that young kids are in the picture, travel priorities may have changed. But you don’t have to get sucked into the package holiday bubble. Adventure travel with young kids is possible! Jenny x