Are you looking for travel movies to inspire wanderlust? Between trips or on a long journey, one of the best ways to get inspired is with a travel movie. Whether the movie is based on a true story or not, or features real, imaginary, domestic, or international destinations – these 25 travel movies offer a wide selection of the best films for armchair travel.
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Best Travel Movies For Wanderlust
Director: Stephan Elliot
Starring: Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Rebel Penfold-Russell
This comedy-drama follows two drag queens and a transgender woman on a road trip across the Aussie outback on their lavender-colored tour bus, affectionately named Priscilla. As they journey from Sydney to Alice Springs, where they have a contract to perform, there are plenty of mishaps along the way.
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio
Based on the novel by Alex Garland, the story follows lost soul and traveler, Richard, who comes across a strange map in Bangkok after his neighbor commits suicide. The map leads to a supposed island paradise, where other lost souls have set up a community.
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy
This romantic tale follows an American man and a French woman who meet on a train from Budapest to Paris, and decide to spend a day and a night together in Vienna. The two strangers move through the city spontaneously, talking and philosophizing, ultimately falling in love.
There are also two sequels, which take place nine years later in Paris (Before Sunset, 2004) and then a further nine years later in Greece (Before Midnight, 2013).
Director: John Madden
Starring: Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and Dev Patel
A group of seven British retirees respond to an online advertisement and make their way to Jaipur, India. The Marigold Hotel is not as luxurious as it was advertised, however the reluctant guests are slowly charmed by the place and also by India.
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman
Two terminally ill men make a list of all the things they want to do before they “kick the bucket,” including travel, then escape their cancer ward to complete the list before they die.
Though before their illnesses they had little in common – one is a corporate billionaire and the other a working-class mechanic – the two men form a strong bond. They travel to France, India, China, Tanzania, Nepal and Egypt.
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman
One year on from their father’s death, three brothers decide to travel across India by train to try and bond, while overcoming their individual issues and collective grief. The brothers argue and fight, with old resentments bubbling to the surface, though each of them has their own problems back at home.
Director: Ryan Murphy
Starring: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins
Based on the famous travel memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love follows the story of a woman who embarks on a journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia after her painful divorce. During her travels, she discovers the pleasure of nourishment in Italy, the power of prayer at a silent retreat in India, then finally inner peace and self-love in Bali. This is one of my favorite travel movies that I can watch over and over again.
Director: Bruce Brown
Starring: Mike Hynson and Robert August
One of the most famous surf movies, this documentary follows Californian surfers as they travel the world, creating an “endless summer” of perfect, surfable waves in different destinations. The trip takes them to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, backed by a surf rock soundtrack by The Sandals.
Director: Sean Penn
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt
Adapted from the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild follows the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who had attempted to live a life traveling in the wilderness and living off the land.
After graduating in 1990, McCandless gave away his college fund to Oxfam, hitchhiked to the Stampede Trail in Alaska and lived on a diet of rice, hunted meat and wild plants. Sadly, his body was found in an abandoned bus in September 1992, where he had perished, possibly due to eating poisonous seeds.
Director: Cédric Klapisch
Starring: Romain Ducris, Judith Godrèche
Also known as Pot Luck (in the UK) and The Spanish Apartment (in Australia), L’Auberge Espagnole is a French-Spanish language film and the title translates as “The Spanish Inn.” The story follows an economics graduate student, who is participating in the Erasmus programme and studying abroad in Barcelona with other students from Western Europe. There are two sequels: Russian Dolls (2005) and Chinese Puzzle (2013).
Director: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson
Bill Murray stars as a faded actor making whiskey ads for the Japanese market, while Scarlett Johansson is a young philosophy graduate who has come to Tokyo with her photographer husband. Both cross paths while staying in the same hotel, both feeling a little lost in the city and in their current situations.
Director: Walter Salles
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo De La Serna and Mia Maestro
This film is based on the memoir of Ernesto Guevara, who would later become the revolutionary Marxist guerrilla leader Che Guevara. The Motorcycle Diaries follows the 23-year-old Ernesto on his adventurous 1952 trip across South America.
The poverty, injustices and personal encounters he makes along the way show the realities of Latin American life and inspired some of his ideas for revolution.
Director: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer
Another travel movie that started out life as a book, Out of Africa is based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Isak Dinesan (a pseudonym for Karen Blixen). The film takes place in colonial-era Kenya, where Danish baroness and plantation owner Karen falls in love with Denys Finch Hatton, a free-spirited big-game hunter.
Director: William Wyler
Starring: Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn
The young and bored Princess Ann, who suffers from anxiety, escapes her guardians and waltzes around Rome during a goodwill tour of Europe. Along the way she meets Joe Bradley, a reporter on the verge of being fired, looking for a big scoop to help him get promoted back to the States.
Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Jon Daly
Threatened with losing his job as the print magazine he works for moves to a digital format, Walter Mitty is tasked with sourcing a photo negative needed for the issue’s final cover – taken by the legendary photography Sean O’Connell, whom Walter has worked with for years, but never met in person.
However, O’Connell has already set off on his next adventures, so Walter must chase him first to Greenland and then to the Himalayas, in order to retrieve the negative. The movie is actually the second film adaptation of a 1939 short story of the same name by James Thurber.
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Starring: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis and BD Wong
Seven Years in Tibet follows the fascinating true story of Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer and is based on his 1952 autobiographical book of the same name. Harrer and his mountaineering companion Peter Aufschnaiter are climbing in the Himalayas in 1939 when World War II begins, resulting in their imprisonment in a Prisoner of War camp in British India, due to their German citizenship.
The two manage to escape the camp and cross the border into Tibet, where they are taken to the holy city of Lhasa and meet the 14th Dalai Lama, who is only a young boy at the very start of his reign. Harrer becomes the boy’s tutor and over the next few years, they form a close friendship. However, Harrer and Aufschnaiter must leave when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950.
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis
Louise works as a waitress in a diner, while Thelma is married to an aggressive man who wants her to stay quiet and in the kitchen. Fed up with their lives and their partners, the two best friends set out on a girls’ road trip together. However, things take a sudden, dark and unforeseen turn. After committing a crime, they decide to head south to Mexico, but with the police on their tails, their crimes start to escalate and the task to hunt them down grows ever more intense.
Director: John Curran
Starring: Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver
An adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s memoir, this travel movie is based on a true story, following the author’s journey across the deserts of western Australia with four camels and a dog. The 1,700-mile trek took nine months and Davidson wrote about her experience for National Geographic. Photographer Rick Smolan drove out to see her and document her journey three times, and the two also developed an on-again off-again romance.
Director: Audrey Wells
Starring: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova and Sandra Oh
Professor, literary reviewer and author, Frances Mayes, has her perfect life turned upside down when her husband reveals an affair and files for divorce in order to marry his much-younger (and pregnant) mistress. As Frances supported her husband while he was writing his own book, he sues her for alimony and also wants to keep their house.
In order to escape the devastation of her divorce, she takes the gift of a trip to Italy from her best friend and after seeing a posting for a villa for sale, decides to stay. This travel movie is based on the 1996 memoir of the same name by Frances Mayes. Another one of my favorite travel movies.
Director: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer and Jordan Nagal
Grumpy 78-year-old Carl journeys to South America in search of Paradise Falls – a place he and his wife had always meant to travel to. His method of transport is a house, flown using thousands of colored balloons. His companions are Russell, a boy scout who had accidentally stowed away in the house, a talking dog and a large, colorful exotic bird.
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson
Two American women spend a summer in Barcelona, where they both fall in love with an artist named Juan Antonio. Though Cristina is more adventurous and Vicky is more cautious, both are drawn in by the artist’s free spirit and romantic nature… that is, until his ex-wife comes back into the picture.
Director: Emilio Estevex
Starring: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen and James Nesbitt
When Dr Thomas Avery’s son is killed during a storm while attempting to walk the famous Camino de Santiago Catholic pilgrimage route, he travels to France to retrieve the body. However, once in Europe, Tom makes the decision to complete the spiritual trail with his son’s ashes, as a tribute.
Director: Ken Kwapis
Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson
Based on the biographical book by famous travel writer Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods follows Bryson’s trek along the Appalachian Trail with hiking companion Stephen Katz. Neither are truly fit enough for the trail, but try to make the best of it, with many misadventures along the way.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern
When Cheryl Strayed’s beloved mother passes away and her marriage falls apart in the self-destructive aftermath of grief, Strayed decides to hike more than 1,000 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail. With little hiking experience, the trail frustrates, strengthens and eventually starts to heal her.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Maribel Verdú
This coming-of-age travel movie is about two teenage boys on a road trip with an older woman from Mexico City to the beautiful secluded paradise beach of Le Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth). The only problem is the beach doesn’t exist, so the boys have to make up the route as they go.
Ultimate Travel Movies Conclusion
Did we mention any of your favourite travel movies? Have any of these travel movies inspire wanderlust? I always looking for new movies to watch. Please let me know your recommendations of travel movies I should add to my travel movies list.