Travel movies are nowadays waiting for you today almost at every corner. It is about traveling Europe, driving through the middle of nowhere in the USA or crossing it from East to West, backpacking South America, and so on.
There are also many documentaries about traveling the world, but this is a different story. In this article we focus on the travel and wanderlust movies; the kind of film material for a travel-lover movie night.
We love good movies, and we love travel. And although we are Hostelgeeks, you will not find anything about this weird hostel movie. You know, that incredibly bad movie that made people be scared of hostels.
Watching a travel-related movie is great for the time you are stuck at home; while waiting for your flight, or even during your flight! Anna prefers watching a movie during our trips, for me, I prefer listening to music.
We are keen to share with you our favorite travel movies and backpacking movies. Certainly, the best films about travel.
Let’s start with a classic:
1. Indiana Jones
Pack your hat, pack your horsewhip – it is time to rescue a beautiful woman, and some old treasure. It is time to fight Nazis in foreign countries. Indiana Jones is a classic when it comes to travel movies. Everybody in your hostel will know this one.
“Indiana Jones is the Oasis – Wonderful of wanderlust movies!”
– Matt, Hostelgeeks
If not, make sure they do organize a movie night and the hostel, get some pop corn and enjoy the show! A movie night is always great to make friends.
Xavier, a 24-year-old French student, attends the ERASMUS program in Barcelona as part of his professional pursuits against the wishes of his girlfriend.
He finds a space in an apartment with other students.
His housemates are from England, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Denmark, creating an ambiance of chaos and culture shock. You can imagine, this is the full European-kind of backpacker hostel experience, just with full-time sharing a flat.
The room mates develop a unique companionship as they struggle together through their cultural and linguistic challenges.
You realize that, same as when you are traveling, even if no one speaks the same language everyone can understand you.
No need to say, this movie is about culture, sex and friendship.
Be prepared of many bites of Barcelona, which will incite you to visit the city!
A more modern from 2015 Hollywood also makes the cut. “Vacations” is a new movie from Ed Helms, one of the actors of Hangover and American Version of “The Office“. Hangover is obviously also on this list, keep scrolling down.
Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife and two sons with a cross-country excursion to America’s favorite fun park.
The gang pack up the car and hit the road for some much-needed family bonding.
Soon, the promise of fun turns into one misadventure after another.
An American comedy, easy to watch with a lot of hints.
4. A Map For Saturday
That’s not just a movie about traveling the world but more a documentary.
A “Map for Saturday” reveals a world solo travel through the stories of trekkers on four continents.
It tracks the emotional arc of extreme long-term travelers; teenagers and senior citizens who wondered, “What would it be like to travel the world?” Then they went for it.
“On a trip around the world,
every day feels like Saturday”
5. Amélie (2001)
Classic! French! Romantic!
You will find this film on every list of the best movies about traveling.
Amélie is the movie about traveling, dreaming, escaping.
The acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet invokes his incomparable visionary style to capture the exquisite charm and mystery of modern-day Paris through the eyes of a beautiful ingenue.
It is shot in over 80 Parisian locations, so be aware it might inspire your next trip.
The English patient is a poetic, evocative film version of the famous novel by Michael Ondaatje circles down through layers of mystery until all of the puzzles in the story have been solved, and only the great wound of a doomed love remains.
It is the kind of movie you can see twice – first time for the questions, the second for the answers.
Here is the trailer.
7. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Raoul (Johnny Depp) and his sidekick (Benicio Del Toro) drive to Las Vegas a red convertible across the Mojave desert to Las Vegas with a suitcase full of drugs to cover a motorcycle race for Sports.
As their consumption of drugs increases at an alarming rate, the stoned duo trash their hotel room and fear legal repercussions.
The film should show the ”hip” drug culture of the 60’s and 70’s deteriorated into a crack epidemic that devastated America’s cities and destroyed countless thousands of lives.
The main characters wander witlessly past the bizarre backdrops of Las Vegas (some real, some hallucinated, all interchangeable) while zonked out of their minds.
“Catch me if you can” is Spielberg’s first collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio and fourth with Tom Hanks.
Tom Hanks AND Leonardo Di Caprio? We will find these two for sure once more in this list.
Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a teenage student with an incredible talent. He steals more than $2 million pretending to be a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer.
Will Tom Hanks, the FBI agent, catch him?
Catch me if you can is one of Steven Spielberg’s funniest movies.
11. Seven Years In Tibet (1997)
I think, this is one of my first wanderlust movies I ever watched as a young kid.
Is Tibet on our bucket list?
Wait till the end of the movie for your answer. For me Tibet was on my list ever since Brad Pitt met Dalai Lama.
“Seven Years in Tibet” is an American war drama film based on a book of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountaineer who attempt to scale a Himalayan peak is interrupted by the Second World War. Heinrich Harrer was imprisoned by the Chinese military, but he managed to escape.
After many adventures, he finds himself in Tibet where he befriends the Dalai Lama, gaining maturity and humility.
This movie is based on a real story!
However, turbulent times lie ahead.
12. Into the Wild (2007)
We waited a long time before watching “Into The Wild“. This movie romanticized the solo-travel life, the van life, the urge of being out there and explore something else than Skyscrapers and school exams.
It is such a famous travel movie, we expected a lot when we pushed the play button!
We were not disappointed.
Into The Wild is an inspiring travel movie about today’s advantages, and the things people can miss in this new world.
Again Barcelona and one of the best Woody Allen films of all times. Vicky and Cristina (Scarlett Johanson), two American friends, visit Barcelona for the summer time.
While in Barcelona, they meet an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who is attracted to both of them while still in love of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).
While the two are great friends, Vicky is practical and traditional in her approach to love and commitment, whereas Cristina imagines herself to be a nonconformist, spontaneous but unsure of what she wants from life or love.
Cristina starts a relationship with Juan Antonio and, while living together, Juan Antonio brings his ex-wife Maria Elena to live with them. All three become romantically involved with one another.
But that is not the end of the story, as Vicky will show up again.
A wanderlust movie full of sex, romance, drama and a pinch of culture. After that film, you might consider moving to Spain…
This one is for the ones still in doubt if they would love travel. This movie is for the ones stuck in a “boring” office life, dreaming of the big world out there. Or not?
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is an employee at LIFE magazine. He spends monotonous day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. He does not even have enough “life” to add something to his online profile on a dating platform.
To escape the tedium, Walter inhabits a world of exciting daydreams in which he is the undeniable hero.
He gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life’s new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue.
Fighting sharks, flying a helicopter and playing football in the nowhere in the Himalaya Mountains.
Hit play for the trailer to watch the trailer of The Hangover 1.
17. Midnight in Paris (2011)
From a crazy stag-party in Las Vegas to dreaming Paris all over!
Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee , he has taken to touring the city alone.
On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange – yet familiar – revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature.
The more time Gil spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present.
Paris in the morning is beautiful,
but Paris after midnight, it’s magical
A romantic movie to inspire Wanderlust and French literature.
Actually, when we watched the trailer, we were not sure if we should hit the play button.
However, a friend recommended it. So we gave it a try as we were sure, we can blame the friends afterwards.
We didn’t blame him, had a blast, and now Safety Not Guaranteed is another fantasy-kind of movie about time travel you should watch. It is an entertaining movie that has nothing to do with cheesy hollywood, it’s more a kind of indie-movie.
19. Romancing the Stone (1984)
An old dowdy romantic-adventure.
A city girl in a Colombian jungle wants to save her sister, who will be killed if a treasure map is not delivered to her kidnappers.
Yes you read well:
a city girl
a treasure map
and the Colombian jungle…
This story would not be so interesting if the protagonist hadn’t met a brash mercenary, who helps her search for the priceless gem located in the map.
Do you think they will find it? Funny, entertaining, curious. Watch the trailer below, here you can find the full film.
20. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
The original “Vacation” movie. A family road trip movie. What could possibly go wrong?!
A family wants to bring their two children on a country trip from their home in Chicago to the Californian theme park Walley World.
During the family’s travels, they run into numerous mishaps, such as being tagged by vandals. When they finally make it to the Walley World, they find …
You know what, just watch the trailer and then the film. Enjoy!
21. Back to the Future (1985)
If you ever want to make me happy and become the best friend of my life, buy me a DeLorean!
Okay, who does not know this movie?
Everybody in the 90s wished to have a hover board like in Back to the Future, and other inventions like the DeLorean.
Back to the Future is THE movie about time travel, and it is always worth it to watch it over and over again.
This is another classic, right before we end this article.
It is a “reverse” kind of travel movie, where the experienced Australian adventurer Crocodile Dundee visits the Big Apple, New York City. Born and raised in Australia, killing Crocodiles and other deadly animals, you can imagine this kind of person gets into trouble when stepping into the world of Sky scrappers, Starbucks and stocks.
Certainly an entertaining film!
25. Wanderlust (2012)
Hippie meets city couple. “Wanderlust” is a 2012 American comedy film, starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.
As a married couple they try to escape modern society by finding themselves on a commune in Georgia, after the economy crashes down on their dreams in New York City.
A movie full of laughter, hippies, penises and laughter.
You can buy and rent all films on this list directly on Amazon.
The Art of Travel is my favorite movie for Solo-Traveler!
It is about a young men. He is about to get married and in the last moment, he changed his mind and his life from now on. He ends up in Central America, leaves the United States and goes out there to find dangerous adventure and the full backpacker experience.
Watch the trailer to get an idea.
This, for me, is the best backpacker movie out there.
27. Not Today
While we like to focus more on the romantic side of life, there is also a dark side of this world to explore.
A dark side you may not even want to know about. But, when traveling the world, these kind of experiences or connections are part of what makes a backpacker, in a way, as well.
“Not Today” from 2013 is a movie about high-school friends visiting India. Focusing on party and an excessive nightlife, one of the friends gets in touch with the poorest. This encounter will change his life and opens up a dark side of India: children prostitution and slavery.
This is a great movie, not entertaining, but shocking and eye-opening. A travel-related drama.
Two friends, two friends, 8 countries across Europe.
As a European I have to say, this movie is very “American”, but I can see why it is funny. It is really ironic. A young kid paints himself a Hitler beard, touchy Italians, nude beaches, crazy alcohol, prostitutes in Amsterdam…
The Eurotrip is full of weird stories. Really entertaining. Yet again, “very American”. Travel to Europe and experience it for yourself.
Verona De Tessant (Maya Rudolph) and Burt Farlander (John Krasinski) are in their early 30s living in the Denver, Colorado area and struggling to meet daily needs and build fulfilling lives. When they learn they will soon become parents, they are confronted with the challenge of how – and where – to raise a child and build a happy family.
The parents move away to Europe and suddenly, everything seems possible.
A comedy-drama about love and possibilities. Watch “Away we go” directly through Amazon.
An award-winning movie with Reese Witherspoon: WILD!
Despite a lack of hiking experience, recent divorcée Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) leaves her home town to hike 1,100 miles of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail on a journey of self-discovery and healing.
During the hike, Strayed reflects in flashbacks on her childhood in Minnesota and memories of her mother, Bobbi Grey (Laura Dern). Bobbi’s death from cancer sent Cheryl into a deep depression that she tried to numb with heroin and anonymous sex, which eventually destroyed her marriage to her husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski). After finding out she was pregnant, Strayed got an abortion and resolved to hike the trail to redeem herself.
31. The Way
The most famous Walk in the Western world: Camino de Santiago in North Spain.
The main character loses his son in the Pyrenees Mountains doing the Camino De Santiago. On the way picking up the ashes of his son, the father decides to walk the walk – together with his son ashes.
The Way is a tragic, dramatic, entertaining traveler movie about the magic of The Walk, friendship and life.