Besides travel quotes and adventure books, travel movies are a great source of inspiration. And a good way to get entertained. Every time I watch travel-related movies, the urge to move builds up. And then the feeling of packing my backpack and going on adventure kicks in. As much as some of these movies are fiction, they go a long way in showing how the world outside is amazing and full of life.
There are many travel movies out there. I have watched many of them, liked some, and disliked others. I watched some halfway and watched some a couple of times.
Whether you are looking for a travel movie to inspire you to start traveling or to travel more, this list could be helpful.
Top 10 Best Travel Movies to Inspire Wanderlust
#1 A Map for Saturday
A map for Saturday is a documentary that follows the stories of solo travelers and backpackers on a trip around the world. This documentary is more like an introduction to the world of backpacking. It’s about survival, the minimalist attitude, connection with the local community, and the art of budget travel.
Brook Silva-Braga leaves his job in New York and travels for 11 months on different continents living out of a backpack. Along the way, he meets like-minded instant friends and together they travel. The experiences revolve around helping Tsunami victims in Thailand, making short-term friends, and living like every day was a Saturday.
Main Cast: Brook Silva-Braga
Movie Trailer: A map for Saturday
Lion is based on a story of a five-year-old boy, Saroo, who follows his brother Guddu to steal coal from cargo trains. He gets lost on a train only to find himself in the crowded streets of Calcutta, India many miles away from home. Saroo undergoes challenges, dangers, and extreme hardships on the streets before being adopted by an Australian family. When he is 25 years of age, he sets out on a journey to find his family back in India. This is one of my best movies of all time.
Main Casts: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara.
Movie Trailer: Lion
#3 Into the Wild
Into the wild is seen by many as the best travel movie of all time. It is about the true story of Christopher McCandless who after graduation, donates his savings to charity, and leaves everything behind to travel across America. He cuts himself off from society and family and hitchhikes up to Alaska where he lives on his own surviving mainly on plants. Along the way, before Alaska, he meets, interacts, and connects with local people and shares their adventures. This movie is an indication of how human beings can live as minimalists while having the best life full of experiences.
This movie is based on the book “Into the Wild” by Joh Krakauer who has also written the book “Into Thin Air” on which the movie “Everest” is based on.
Main Cast: Sean Penn
Movie Trailer: Into the Wild
#4 Out of Africa
This movie is based on a book by the same name written by Isak Dinesen. It is about a wealthy Danish woman (Karen Blixen) who visits and falls in love with Kenya. She goes ahead to engage in different activities like dairy and coffee farming while passionately falling in Love with a Game Hunter, Denys Finch Hatton. To learn more about the story you can visit the Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi Kenya.
Main Cast: Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and Meryl Streep
Movie Trailer: Out of Africa
#5 The Darjeeling Limited
I love trains; especially the slow long-distance ones with sleepers and window seats. Darling Limited is one of the movies that shows you what it feels like to be on a slow-moving train over a long distance. You pass through forests, local settlements, towns, and farms. The experience is amazing. This movie tells the story of three brothers who after the funeral of their father one year ago, reunites and takes a train trip to India. During their travel, they fight, bond, and enjoy great local experiences.
Main cast: Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, and Roman Coppola.
Movie Trailer: The Darling Limited
The Hobbit is a series of three movies based on the Novel “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien. It is an adventure series inspired by the first series of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by the same Author. These movies follow the adventures of the hobbit (Bilbo Baggins) and 13 dwarves led by Thorin as they explore Middle-earth. The journey is a mission with the hope of reclaiming the Lonely Mountain from the Dragon – Smaug.
The three adventure films are:
- An Unexpected Journey (2012),
- The Desolation of Smaug (2013),
- The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
My all-time favorite of the films is “The Desolation of the Smaug” from which the song “I see fire” by Ed Sheeran is the theme song/Soundtrack.
Main cast: Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield).
Movie Trailer: The Desolation of the Smaug
#7 The Beach
The movie is based on a book by the same name by Alex Garland. It’s a great adventure film that tells the story of a young American (Richard) and his travels to Bangkok, Thailand. Richard gets a strange map from Daffy which apparently leads to a secret, paradise beach and lagoon. Together with two newly made friends, they set out to find it. It is a movie full of adventure, betrayal, mystery, and action.
It should, however, be noted that the movie is a shallow manifestation of the book. The viewer does not get a complete clear adventure that is evident in the book. This has led to many critics of the movie from global reviewers.
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio
Trailer: The Beach
#8 The First Grader
I don’t know if this qualifies as a travel-related movie but the inspiration is great. The first-grader is a movie of its kind. It shows how far passion, motivation, and drive can take a human being. It is a drama film based on a true story of a Kenyan old man (Kimani, Maruge) who joins the school at 86 years of age.
Maruge’s desire for education is faced with many challenges. Ridicules from some teachers and other villagers, hallucinations from Mau Mau service experiences, and objection by the education superintendent to have him in school. His headmistress pleads with the education board to have him in school but the request is rejected. Maruge is forced to join an adult school where he drops out after realizing that the other elderly people lack learning motivation…..
Main cast: Naomie Harris (Jane Obinchu) and Oliver Litondo (Kimani Maruge).
Trailer: The First Grader
#9 Queen of Katwe
The movie takes you to Uganda and explores the life of Phiona (Madina Nalwanga). She is a 10-year-old girl living in the slum of Katwe on the outskirts of Kampala. Phiona’s life changes rapidly after meeting Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) who introduces her to the game of Chess. She goes on to become a top player and the game opens her doors – a chance to escape poverty.
Main Cast: Lupita Nyon’go, David Oyelowo, and Madina Nalwanga
Movie Trailer: Queen of Katwe
#10 The Motorcycle Diaries
The Motorcycle Diaries is a motorcycle adventure film directed by Walter Salles. The movie is based on a travel diary of the same name by Ernesto Guevara, who would several years later become known internationally as Che Guevara.
“The film recounts the 1952 expedition, initially by motorcycle, across South America by Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado. As well as being a road movie, the film is a coming-of-age film; as the adventure, initially centered on youthful hedonism, unfolds, Guevara discovers himself transformed by his observations on the life of the impoverished indigenous peasantry.” ~ Wikipedia
Main Cast: Gael García Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna.
Movie Trailer: The Motorcycle Diaries
List of Other Best Travel Movies
There are several other great travel movies. These movies are based on adventure, exploration, or just getaways. They inspire you to travel, explore and wander more. Whether you are longing to visit Kenya, explore Africa or wander the globe, these travel films will inspire you to get moving.
- The Gods Must Be Crazy
- The Way
- The Lord of the Rings
- Romancing the Stone
- Nowhere in Africa
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- The boy who harnessed Wind
- Planes, Trains, And Automobiles
- The Man Who Watched Trains Go By
- Hotel Rwanda
- Up in the Air
- The Bucket List
- Long Way Round
- Seven Years in Tibet
- Under the Tuscan Sun
- Midnight in Paris
- A Good Year
We all have different tastes in movies. The list is based on personal opinion. If you feel there are some movies that should not be on the list or can be included, kindly leave a comment. Let’s share the wanderlust experiences.