At the end of the day, I’m a travel nerd at heart. I’m also a pretty big movie buff, and I love watching movies with strong travel themes. As we’re all social distancing and self-quarantining during the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are turning to Netflix and other streaming sources to help us pass the time. Instead of scrolling through titles for hours, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite travel films to hopefully help you decide what to watch.
I believe this list highlights not just excellent stories and themes, but also fantastic direction, great characters, excellent casting and above all, amazing locations worldwide. These titles are either about travel or they feature destinations so beautiful I simply had to include them. I give you, in no particular order, my favorite “travel films”...
This is my all-time favorite movie for a number of reasons - though the film is set in the fictional town of Amity Island, NY, the Steven Spielberg classic was shot almost entirely on location in Martha’s Vineyard, MA. It also does an amazing job using the Atlantic Ocean as backdrop to deliver amazing visuals, as well as intense suspense. An American Classic.
What can I say? I think this is a brilliant comedy and one of Chris Farley’s best performances. And let’s be honest, the idea of a “road trip to save the company” speaks directly to every road warrior who’s ever hit the road in the name of sales/pursuit of a better life. It doesn’t get much better than that.
All James Bond Films
This iconic film series was shot on location in exotic destinations around the world. From snow capped mountain peaks to sunken shipwrecks in the Carribean - one might deduce the locations play a leading role in every film.
Nothing shines some sunlight on foggy old London Town better than some holiday cheer! This film and it’s star-filled cast was shot all over London (and some parts of France). It paints an amazing picture of an amazing city.
Catch Me If You Can
Pan AM Airlines, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin as Juan Tripp? Where do I sign up?! Watch this movie and you’ll wish for the glory days of commercial aviation were here again.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
An American classic!. The sequels were good, but I prefer the original version. It follows Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as they load up the family station wagon and hit the open road, driving from Illinois to California for some good, old-fashioned family fun at the Wally World Amusement Park. Simply a must-watch! (Though, depending on your family, this film may deter some of you from taking a family road trip, travelers beware!)
This movie always makes me want to visit Santa Barbara - immediately! A cast including Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and Meryl Streep make it a must-see for those who haven’t. Love it!
Must I explain why? Forrest sees the world, albeit through a very particular lens.
A love letter to New York City. It’s funny, memorable and always reminds me of how much I love the greatest city in the world.
The shark scene? Leo Dicaprio? Just watch it again and you’ll be booking a trip to a secluded island before the closing credits roll.
Ah...Paris! Oh, to be a rat on the town!
No spoilers here… not the most ideal travel story - but this film is so well done, I usually watch it every couple of years. Tom Hanks is brilliant. Again, it may deter some from actually traveling, but come on, people, he makes it home eventually!
“What’s your vector, Victor?” Another great air travel movie. Slapstick at its finest. Surely it’s a classic...and don’t call me Shirley.
Something’s Gotta’ Give
If you want to know what the Hamptons feel like, then watch this movie. The cast is award-winning and the locations are beautiful. It’s nice to see how the other half lives.
Go ahead, make fun of me all you want! Maybe not the greatest sales pitch for the cruise industry, but the epic sinking, simply put, is breathtaking. Academy Award winner for a reason.
The Devil Wears Prada
Much like “Hitch,” this movie is a love letter to NYC and one of my favorites for so many reasons. Plus… Meryl!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Wow! You may have missed this one, but if you love to travel then watch it on the biggest screen possible. Ben Stiller’s character daydream’s himself to destinations all over the world. Amazing visuals and a quick way to catch the travel bug!
What are some of your favorite travel movies? Do you have a thought or comment about my list? Chime in using the comment section below!
Happy travel movie watching!
About The Author
Erik Hastings, a.k.a. Erik the Travel Guy is an EMMY award-winning television personality who speaks directly to consumers who can't afford to "get their vacations wrong". He is the host and managing editor of the internationally syndicated television series "Beyond Your Backyard" for public broadcasting stations (PBS) and other networks/VOD platforms. Erik The Travel Guy is also host of the new podcast, Erik The Travel Guy - The Podcast. Erik leads an incredibly talented team of industry pros and is the editorial driving force of his platform. While the travel industry directly supports millions of families worldwide, Erik believes travel makes the world a better place. Through exploration and discovery, he has learned that travel brings cultures together and he eagerly shares that spirit with his viewers.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!