The best movies and books with a travel theme
by Stella on 26.05.
For every movie-lover and bookworm
We know that the quarantine has been hard for you - because it's been hard for us at JoinMyTrip! Nonetheless, it is vital for everyone to keep staying at home, because this is the only chance to #flattenthecurve.
That's why we sat together (over video chat of course) and thought about the best movies and books with a travel theme or travel inspiration so at least your mind and creativity can go around the world!
So sit back and make yourself a wish list.
You're not a bookworm and Netflix and Co. are your best friends these days?
Have a look at our list of Top 19 Movies and Documentaries, all about travelling, in any form.
19. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
This film details a whacky search for the "American Dream", by Thompson and his lawyer. Fueled by the massive amount of drugs they purchased with an advance from a magazine to cover a sporting event in Las Vegas. Encountering police, reporters, gamblers, racers and hitchhickers; they search for the world famous "American Dream" and find fear, loathing and hilarious adventures in the modern American West.
18. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
This film is about the Hoover family; a grandfather who's addicted to cocaine, the father who's a struggling motivational speaker, a mother who can't cope, an uncle recovering from a failed suicide attempt, a Nietzsche-worshipping son and little Olive, who dreams about being beautiful. When Olive has the chance of participating in the beauty pageant "Little Miss Sunshine", the whole family hops on a VW bus to drive to California to support the little girl. On their 3-day-journey, they experience total madness and life-changing events.
17. The Road to San Diego (2006)
Tati, a young man from Argentina, is Maradona crazy. The TV announcement that Maradona will be admitted to hospital in Buenos Aires with heart problems is enough for Tati to hit the road for the capital in order to personally give her the wooden resemblance he carries with him over the hills, along with a bag full of other carvings he hopes to sell. On his way to Buenos Aires, he experiences, surprises and interesting encounters and the last question remaining is: Will he be able to deliver the sculpture to his idol?
16. Nebraska (2013)
This film is about a father-son road trip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska where the father had grown up and where he wants to settle. It's the ultimate story of a son trying to get through to a father he doesn't understand.
15. The Straight Story (1999)
This is a portrait of one man's real journey across America's Heartland. Filmed along the way from Laurens, Iowa to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, the film chronicles the protagonist's patient odyssey and those he meets along the way. He encounters a number of strangers, from a teenage runaway to a fellow World War II veteran. By sharing his life's earned wisdom with simple stories, the protagonist has a great impact on these characters.
14. Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
A group of Cuban musicians, some being as old as 90, were brought together to record a CD. In this film, the audience can see and hear some of the songs recorded in Havana. There's also some footage from concerts in Amsterdam and New York City. In addition, many of the musicians talk about their lives in Cuba and how their musical story began.
13. Roman Holiday (1953)
This is an absolute classic with famous Audrey Hepburn! On a diplomatic visit to Rome, Hepburn's character escapes her royal duties and goes incognito to explore the city on her own. She happens to meet American journalist Joe Bradley, who, recognizing a lucrative news story, pretends that he doesn't recognize her and offers to give her a guided tour of Rome.
This is full-on romance from the '50s - so get your wine and chocolate ready!
12. Under an Arctic Sky (2017)
This documentary portrays the beautiful journey of a group of surfers, photographers and adventurers travelling to Iceland during winter, in search of the perfect wave. On their way, their struggles with brutal weather conditions, the difficult travel conditions and the equipment is captured like it's never been done before! A must-see for every snow-lover who wants to escape to a frozen-like world.
11. Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
At the peak of WWII, an Austrian mountain climber (it's our cutie Brad Pitt) journeys to the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet. He searches for new challenges to tame and finds an unexpected friend in the form of young Dalai Lama. Under the influence of the holy leader, the mountaineer and Nazi Party member, begins a personal journey that leads to greater self-awareness and inner peace.
10. 180° South (2010)
This documentary covers the journey of Jeff Johnson as he travels from Ventura, California to Patagonia in Chile. After finding footage of the 1968 expedition by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins who took their Ford E-Series Econoline Van on that trip, Johnson decided to climb to Corcovado Volcano in Patagonia.
9. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
This film revolves around three brothers who have drifted apart over the last years, so much so they don't speak to each other anymore. Their father's death brings them together again. It is at this point, when one of them proposes they should do a train journey through India, as a spiritual pilgrimage, together. They travel on the Darjeeling Limited, a railway line crossing the country from one end to the other. Conflicts and fights on the train escalate so the three brothers are forced to get off and that's when their true journey starts. None of them have said it out loud, but the three of them know: The true motive to go to India was to find the mother who had left them on their own all those years ago.
8. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
In this documentary, director Werner Herzog and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger go to Antarctica to meet people who live and work there, to capture footage of the continent's unique locations. They portray four different locations: McMurdo Station, a nearby seal camp, a diving camp and Mount Erebus. In each station, they interview people about living conditions and their work around Antarctica.
Hint: This is NOT an animal documentary, it is about people!
7. Midnight in Paris (2011)
This is a classic film made by world-famous director Woody Allen.
An American writer (played by Owen Wilson) arrives with his fiancee and her parents in Paris. As he wanders the streets dreaming of the 1920s, he falls under a spell and then the magic happens: at midnight somewhere in the Latin neighborhood, the protagonist travels into another universe where he meets people, he never expected to meet in his life.
6. Somebody Feed Phil (2018)
This is an American travel documentary presented by Phillip Rosenthal and produced by Netflix. Each episode follows Rosenthal touring the cuisine of the episode's featured city. In the first season, he travelled from Bangkok through Europe to Mexico City, and took the audience on a fun and indulging journey to check out the best dishes for every stop. In Germany, both seasons are available on Netflix.
5. Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Set in Italy in the late 1950s, Tom Ripley craves the life led by Dickie Greenleaf. When Dickie's father asks Tom to bring his son back home to America, Dickie and his girlfriend never suspect the dangerous extremes to which Tom will go to make their lifestyle his own.
4. Dark Tourist (2018)
From atomic lakes to cursed forests - David Farrier takes the audience on an adventurous and exciting journey through the most bizarre tourist attractions around the world. His journey begins in Latin America where he meets Pablo Escobar's profi killer, witnesses an exorcism in Mexico and takes part in an illegal border crossing (which is not real). The documentary show is available on Netflix and so far, there is just one season with 8 episodes.
3. Life in a Day (2011)
"Life in a day" is a crowdsourced documentary film made out of an arranged series of video clips selected from 80,000 clips submitted to YouTube. The clips show respective occurrences from around the world on a single day, 24 July 2010. People were able to submit a video from their everyday lives on this particular day - from all around the world. Out of this footage, the directors selected the best ones for the documentary.
There are really no words to describe the power of the pictures and videos you will see in this film, you have to see for yourself. The good thing is that you can watch it on YouTube for free so get cracking!
2. National Parks Adventure (2016)
In this Netflix documentary, the most beautiful national parks of North America are being portrayed. You will see untamed nature and the breathtaking presence of the Earth and how we, as humans, interact with it in a sustainable and responsible way. This film is perfect as an inspiration for you and your USA Travel Buddy!
1. Into the Wild (2007)
Recently graduated from college, 22-year-old Christopher McCandless chose to walk out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of an adventure. He abandoned his possessions, gave his savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska. What happened to him on his journey is portrayed in this film. It is based on a true story and asks the big question: Was he a heroic adventurer or a naive idealist?
A little side note: This film does not have the happiest ending so be prepared for that.
And now for all the big old bookworms:
The 10 best books to dream yourself away to pristine places and wonderful stories
10. Lands of Lost Borders - Kate Harris (non-fiction)
As a teenager, author Kate Harris realized that her dream to become an explorer had gone extinct. After studying at Oxford, she set off by bicycle down the famous Silk Road with her childhood friend. Going mile upon mile in some of the most remote places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. The further she traveled, the closer she came to a world, which was as wild as she felt within.
9. Pay No Heed to the Rockets - Marcello di Cintio (non-fiction)
Author Marcello di Cintio first travelled to Israel in 1999. When he returned again in 2015, he yearned to write about Palestinian writers and how they see the Arab-Israeli conflict. In his book, he records his encounters with Arab writers from the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. During the book, he meets old friends, notable writers and authors from said regions and documents their opinions and history about the regional conflicts. Di Cintio portrays the different faces of the Gaza region in a very lively and diverse manner - not only the Arab-Israeli conflict is part of the book, but also other social aspects of life, such as domestic abuse, the placement of LGBTQ people, government corruption and childhood trauma.
8. Dark Star Safari - Paul Theroux (non-fiction)
In Dark Star Safari, Paul Theroux takes the reader to Africa by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, ferry, train and also armed convoy. During his journey, he talks to people on site - not just the inhabitants, but also aid workers, missionaries and tourists. Theroux encounters danger and uncomfortable circumstances while capturing the beauty and diversity of the African continent - from Cairo to Cape town.
7. Love with a Chance of Drowning - Torre DeRoche (non-fiction)
Torre DeRoche is a typical city girl. She loves her independence and is not looking for love (who really is, right?). But then she meets an Argentinean man and their adventure together begins after he tells her that he will "sail" around the world with nothing but a small sailboat. Lovesick Torre decides to go with him, determined to keep the love alive although she's terribly afraid of the open water. Somewhere on the Pacific, she finds herself on a journey that will change her life forever. This is a very charming and wonderful book that shows the reader that there are always risks worth taking and also takes us to the most remote places on Earth.
6. Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, A Bay, and the Quest for the Perfect Bear - Paul Souders (non-fiction)
Paul Souders has dreamed his whole life about the perfect picture of a Polar Bear in its natural habitat. After a troublesome journey to his hauled boat in Hudson Bay, he embarked on his journey. Battling winds and plagued by questionable navigation, he slowly made his way north in the hopes of finding the melting ice that should be home to thousands of Polar Bears. For a few magical days, he was surrounded by incredible wildlife photo opportunities.
5. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert (non-fiction)
This is a book that can't be ignored when talking about travel inspired books, it's a classic. This memoir talks about Gilbert's journey around the world after her divorce. Following this event, she decided to go on a trip around the world to find herself again. She spends the first 4 months in Italy, eating and enjoying her life. The following 3 months, she stays in India, finding her spirituality and inner strength. The year ends in Bali, where she looks for her inner balance and falls in love with a new man.
4. World Walk - Steven M. Newman (non-fiction)
Freelance journalist Steven Newman decides at age 28 to go on a backpacking world trip. Travelling on back roads and through forgotten places, he continues to write for a newspaper audience of nearly 1.5 million. Four years later, he successfully had walked the length of 21 countries on five continents - and fulfilled his childhood dream. In this book, he takes the reader with him on this amazing odyssey, meeting families and finding friends in every place. Among the adventures he collected were wars, weather tragedies, wild boar fights and many more (we don't want to spoil everything). This is a book full of vividly described adventures as if you'd experienced them yourself.
3. The Cat Who Went to Paris (Norton the Cat) - Peter Gethers (non-fiction)
Author Peter Gethers always hated cats - or so he thought. After he met six-week-old Scottish Fold kitten Norton, a gift from his friend, he changes his mind immediately. Norton accompanies Gethers everywhere - to the office, to parties, on business trips to Los Angeles and Paris, on weekends to Fire Island. Whoever the two unlikely friends meet on their way, falls in love with the little cat immediately. Norton changed his owners' life and made the world a better place everywhere he goes. This book is made for every animal lover and people who didn't know how precious cats can be (yes, this goes out to every dog-lover).
2. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter - Matt Kepnes (non-fiction)
You want to know how to travel cheaper while still having the best adventure ever? Matt Kepnes shows you how. This book gives practical, step-by-step instructions on how to travel on $50 a day or even less. He reveals tips, tricks and experiences how to get around the world comfortably without paying a fortune or taking up a loan. He interviews several experienced travellers on the subject success and hands-on advice. You should definitely read that book if you already have plans for your next adventure - no matter if it will be 2 weeks, months or years. We don't know how long the shutdown due to the virus will last, but it's nice to dream about the time after that. This book is perfect as a preparation for you and your world trip travel buddy!
1. The Alchemist - Paul Coelho (fiction)
This is an all-time classic. If you haven't read it, DO IT NOW. This masterpiece tells the magical story of an Andalusian shepherd who dreams about travelling the world to find a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches he could've not dreamed of before and that will change him more than he could ever imagine. The shepherd's odyssey teaches the reader about the wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning about yourself and, most importantly, following your dreams.
So, what happens now? Will you read and watch all those great titles we gave you?
I hope you do, because these are my plans and I want to have people to share them with!
Share this list with all your travel buddies who are desperate travellers and want to imagine themselves in all these worlds that are shown in every piece of art in this list.
Our world is such a special place and while we can't see it with our own eyes, we can use the adventures, experiences and stories made by other great people. Let's use our community to share stories and experiences about places that are in danger now. In danger not just because of the virus but also because of climate change. It is our responsibility, to care for our world and make everybody understand that we only have one world.
This one world is pictured in these books, movies and documentaries and I wish for you that you will have the opportunity to see these places for yourselves one day, but in a respectful manner.
If you want to know more about traveling in this situation, we've collected some useful information for you:
- Our Corona Guidelines
- Where can you travel in Europe in summer 2020?
- Why travel in a group now?
- 8 Tips for traveling after Corona
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