Films are a window to the human experience. We watch movies to be swept away, to feel something, to connect with people and places. Below is a list of travel movies that will captivate you. They’ll transport you to a different time and place that will inspire your next trip into the unknown. Also, Lotus Compass especially supports films with female directors and female lead actors, so be sure to check those out!
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Filmed in: Paris, France
Summary: If you adore the Parisian French vibe, Amélie will charm you throughout. In particular, the bright colors and quirky Frenchness makes this film really fun to watch. While it’s labeled as a romantic comedy, Amélie goes deeper. It’s one of those that keeps you pondering on the meaning of life. Not to mention, the film makes you fall in love with the lead, Amélie, played by Audrey Tautou.
2. Into the Wild
Director: Sean Penn
Filmed in: Oregon, South Dakota, Arizona, and Alaska
Summary: What is the meaning of life, and how can one find true happiness? You will go on a journey with main character Chris McCandless as he traverses through the United States on the solo adventure of a lifetime. It’s highly reviewed and was widely discussed when it was released in 2007. For example, Rolling Stones described Into the Wild as, “one of the best movies of a bustling fall out of Jon Krakauer’s best-selling Into the Wild. Krakauer told the true story of Chris McCandless, an honors grad from Emory University who walked into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 to find himself outside the confines of estranged family, well-meaning friends and any governing impulse besides his own questing heart.”
3. Our Planet series
Directors: David Attenborough, Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, Sophie Lanfear
Filmed in: Worldwide
Summary: While it’s not a travel movie, this series will make you fall in love with our planet. OurPlanet.com describes the series as “a Netflix original documentary series and collaboration between WWF, Netflix and Silverback Films. Our Planet shows the world’s natural wonders, iconic species and wildlife spectacles that still remain… Discover the story of the one place we all call home.”
5 Favorites and 5 Must-See Travel Destinations: read here.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Filmed in: Along the Pacific Crest Trail in the U.S.
Summary: A deeply inspiring book turned film about a woman reaching rock bottom and finding the strength within to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. To summarize, ‘Wild’ calls to the inner wisdom and strength within each of us that keeps us going when the going gets tough. A must watch! Plus, Rees Witherspoon does an incredible job and plays the part extremely well.
Director: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov
Filmed in: Northern Macedonia
Summary: Honeyland is an award-winning travel documentary filmed in Macedonia in 2019. The film shows the life of a beekeeper in a remote village in the mountains. Moreover, the filming lasted over three years and resulted in 400 hours of footage. In short, Honeyland is real, gripping, and shows a glimpse into a different world. This, to me, is exactly what great travel movies are all about.
6. The Motorcycle Diaries
Director: Walter Salles
Filmed in: All throughout South America – Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela
Summary: This film tells the story of an 8,000 mile road trip through South America in 1952 by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and his travel buddy Alberto Granado. In particular, the cultural aspects make this travel movie a fascinating coming of age. Also, it’s great to watch if you’re learning Spanish, too, as the film is entirely in Spanish with English subtitles.
Want to learn how to travel more sustainably? Read here .
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Filmed in: Mexico City, Mexico
Summary: Netflix’s Roma follows the story of Cleo, an indigenous woman working as a maid in 1970s Mexico City. Roma tells the story of motherhood, of social and class dynamics, and of life in the Colonia Roma neighborhood in Mexico City in the 1970s.
Indigenous female lead!
8. Eat, Pray, Love
Director: Ryan Murphy
Filmed in: New York City, Italy, India, and Indonesia
Summary: The quintessential ‘travel to find yourself’ film. To start, this true story will bring you in and have you relating to the main character (and writer), Elizabeth Gilbert. Have you ever felt like you had everything yet were dissatisfied with life? Have you ever entertained the idea of taking off to a faraway land on a quest for self discovery? If so, this is one of those travel movies that will take you away… to Italy, to India, to Indonesia. In short, Eat, Pray, Love follows one woman’s quest for knowledge and understanding. Enjoy!
What is slow travel? And why try it? Learn more here.
Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Takes place in: Mexico
Summary: Coco is an animated film that portrays Mexican culture very well. Because of this, we had to include it on the top travel movies list! It’s a feel good kind of movie, and it takes place in Mexico during the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Common Sense Media describes Coco as “colorful, beautifully animated, and culturally sensitive.”
Director: John Curran
Filmed in: Australia
Summary: Four camels, a faithful dog, 2,000 miles of desert, and one determined woman. ‘Tracks’ will have you on the edge of your seat. As a matter of fact, it may even leave you wanting to take an epic solo trip! Because why not?
There you have it, friends! Have you seen any of these films? Which ones are on your “to-watch” list? Let us know in the comments below. By the way, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram! Also, share this page with friends if you enjoyed!