Wanderlust is fueled by many things, one of them being film. When the scenery, the language, and the emotions are captured just right, a movie can be one of the most influential sparks to ignite a desire to travel. Here are our top picks:
1. Under the Tuscan Sun
A divorcee goes on a solo trip to sunny Tuscany, with the sole purpose of just going. Instead, she finds a villa, rusty, broken and old, and ends up buying it. She leaves everything behind and moves to a foreign land, making new friends who end up becoming family along the way. Who isn’t enticed by the prospect of escape? And who wouldn’t be inspired by a story of starting over after immense devastation? The movie, extreme as it may seem, banks on hope, adventure, the beauty of a place and the kindness of strangers. And that’s all it really needs to do to make anyone want to embark on a journey of their own.
A coming-of-age adventure film, Copenhagen is about an unlikely friendship between an immature young American man and a 14-year-old local girl. The two meet as a young man searches for his roots in a strange city, which is also the birthplace of a father who abandoned him. They develop an attraction, but being half his age, nothing is consummated. The movie tackles dangerous territory and is at many occasions, uncomfortable to watch. However, it succeeds at telling the story of how travel takes us not just to places, but to people, too.
3. The Beach
Everybody knows how it goes — a young backpacker finds paradise, only to realize how terrible it actually is. While not entirely positive, the storyline does give way to some inspiring scenery in Thailand, and displays in its own twisted way how people bond during travel. Human beings are bonded by shared experiences. The more foreign, the better.
4. Into the Wild
Ever had an intense need to pack up your bags, leave the city behind, and disconnect? This film takes “off the grid” to a whole new level by following the journey of a young man who rejects the conventional, commercial way of life and embraces a life in the wild. Guess what it does? It really, really makes you want to go camping. Watch it or watch it again. It works every time.
5. Midnight in Paris
Imagine walking into a bar and ending up in the 1920s. Isn’t that the dream? Midnight in Parisindulges our imagination and everything we ever wanted “traveling” to be like as a kid: jumping through time, entering a door and ending up in a different place, meeting characters we only ever read in books. If you think Paris is overrated, watching this film and realizing all the events that may have transpired in this magical city will make you want to give it a chance.
6. Lord of the Rings
Sure, it’s about greed and war, but there are tiers to the trilogy that strike at the very core of a travel junkie. It’s about adventure and purpose — finding something that is lost. Sound familiar? It will also make you want to visit Hobbiton in New Zealand. Fantasy meets reality? We’re booking our flight now.
7. Murder on the Orient Express
A gruesome murder takes place on a train. Not an ideal way to start a trip — but train travel is dreamy and so is this film. In spite of its theme, this adaptation of a 1934 Agatha Christie novel takes us through luxury travel, through the experiences of flamboyant characters. It doesn’t just inspire travel, it inspires fashion, too.
8. Romancing the Stone
Romancing the Stoneis one of the first movies I ever saw as a child and the one I always remember when I think of adventure and travel, more than Indiana Jones, more than Never Ending Story. It’s about a romance novelist from New York who hunts for a giant emerald with an exotic bird smuggler. What’s not to like?
9. Toss up between Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Love Actually
Oh, London. Dreamy, gritty, culturally-rich London. These three movies may all be centered more on the narrative than the scenery, they all — whether on purpose or not — showcase the magic of the city that is home to art, Hogwarts (well, an hour’s drive) and rock ‘n’ roll. Try hunting down locations on your next trip to the city.
10. The Holiday
Home exchange anyone? If only all travelers were as single, as tidy and as awesome as Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in The Holiday. The two, each with their own relationship woes and personal dilemmas, exchange houses. One is a wintry cottage and another is a Hollywood home. As their vacations progress, they find their lives intertwined — and better.
11. Eat, Pray, Love
This list would not be complete without the ultimate travel-slash-soul-searching-slash-starting-over film. Created pre-Tinder, the movie follows a writer who had, like our American villa owner in Tuscany, just separated from her husband. She goes to Italy, India and finally to Bali. She has a yogi lover before she meets a scruffy divorcee in Ubud. And she’s friends with a medicine man. It romanticizes everything but frankly, we’re here for it. It’s not like we’re under any illusions that Javier Bardems abound in Bali. We all know it’s the James Francos who are there.