Everyone needs a vacation occasionally. Even the biggest workaholics in the world will eventually crash and burn without taking the time to recharge their batteries on occasion.
Most people would like to travel, but don’t do so because of a lack of money or commitments at home. Sure, you may fly away for a couple of weeks every summer, in which case you should consider using Netflix for inspiration. But why not use the same source to feed that travel bug in the first place?
Whether it’s the storyline, the setting, the characters, or the language, there’s nothing quite like an evocative movie to give you wanderlust. Here are 10 movies on Netflix that should inspire you to get off your sofa and travel somewhere far away from your home comforts.
Y Tu Mamá También hit theaters in June 2001. Directed by the award-winning Alfonso Cuarón, the story tracks the adventures of two Mexico teenagers who take a coming-of-age road trip across their homeland. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards.
Filmed in Mexico City and the mountains and beaches of Oaxaca, viewers are introduced to the many juxtapositions within the country. Politics, the economy, culture, love, and the environment all feature heavily.
Boasting a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, Y Tu Mamá También still holds the record for the highest box office opening in Mexican cinema history.
The storyline for The Bucket List — a comedy tale of two terminally ill men trying to accomplish their dreams before they pass away — might not initially inspire wanderlust. However, the scenery you’ll enjoy while watching the movie will have you dreaming of long-haul flights and airline food.
The pair of men head to the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the North Pole, the Egyptian pyramids, the Serengeti, and a whole host of international cities.
Critics attacked the movie for the insensitive way in which it deals with the men’s illnesses. In truth, the criticisms are probably fair, but you can’t argue with the quality of the backdrop.
3. The Da Vinci Code [No Longer Available]
The Da Vinci Code‘s plot is well-known. A murder at the Louvre Museum in Paris leads American symbologist Robert Langdon on a journey of discovery, the end of which threatens to rock the Catholic Church to its core.
The story isn’t to everyone’s tastes. In many parts, it’s as unbelievable as it is gripping.
However, for someone chasing wanderlust, it takes some beating. Langdon’s journey takes him into the depths of the world’s most famous museums, through some of the England’s most famous cathedrals, into the highlands of Scotland, and even to Vatican City.
If you love the mystique and charm of the medieval Europe, it’s a sure-fire winner.
Originally released in 1966, The Endless Summer is the second-oldest movie on this list.
The movie toys with the idea of a neverending summer. The premise is that if a person had enough money (and presumably absolutely no responsibilities in life), they could continually circle the planet, staying in the warmest season of the year forever.
The protagonists are two real-life Californian surfers. As winter arrives in the United States, they set off in search of sun and the “perfect wave.” The film introduced the surfing community to the now world-famous break at Cape St. Francis in South Africa.
The list of on-location filming destinations puts most modern films in the shade. Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, California, Tahiti, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal all feature.
It’s one of the few films that can boast a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Under the Tuscan Sun [No Longer Available]
For many people, there’s nothing more alluring in life than the idea of buying a mansion in Tuscany and falling in love. For Frances Mayes, a divorced American woman, the dream becomes a reality.
After discovering her husband’s affair, she heads to Europe where she purchases a villa in Northern Italy.
As you’d expect, the Italian countryside and sun-beaten vineyards get a lot of screentime in Under the Tuscan Sun. Filming also took place in some of Italy’s most famous and romantic cities, including Rome, Florence, and Siena.
6. A Map for Saturday [No Longer Available]
A Map for Saturday tracks the real-life adventures of Brook Silva-Braga. He was a senior HBO executive who walked out on his job to travel the world in 2005.
As he travels, Brook meets and interviews fellow travelers from all walks of life. And if hearing the protagonist’s story isn’t enough to give you wanderlust, the movie’s scenery might. Brook spends time in Australia, India, Nepal, Thailand, Spain, England, Argentina, Brazil, and a few other places to boot.
Upon the conclusion of his travels, he penned this now-famous quote:
“Time and money are commodities with an inverse relationship; you need to spend one to have the other. And traveling cheap makes you realize that time is more valuable than money.”
7. Midnight in Paris [No Longer Available]
Woody Allen’s 2011 hit Midnight in Paris is a movie that sure to get you dreaming of a trip to the fabled “City of Love.”
The storyline itself touches on the bizarre. Unfulfilled screenwriter Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, heads to Paris for a vacation with his fiancée and her parents. At midnight each night, Gil is transported back to the city’s romantic heyday of the 1920s.
Time-travelling escapades might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you love the city of Paris, there are few films out there with better imagery.
Filming took place in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Church of Saint-Etienne, the Louvre, the Opera House, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, and Seine-Saint-Denis. Not only that, but both the culture and costumes of the 1920s are faithfully recreated.
8. Lawrence of Arabia [No Longer Available]
Just beating The Endless Summer for the honor of the oldest movie on the list is Lawrence of Arabia.
This 1962 classic is set during World War I. It tracks the life of T. E. Lawrence as he travels around the Arabian Peninsula battling Turks and uniting Arab tribes.
Obviously, war isn’t the most travel-inspiring topic, but like so many other films on this list, it is the on-screen imagery that wins out. Endless sand dunes, hot deserts, and caravans of camels are the order of the day.
If you’re interested in the beauty of North Africa and the Middle East, you’ll have booked your ticket before you’re even halfway through this one.
Lawrence of Arabia cleaned up at the 1963 Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography (Color), Best Art Direction (Color), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
9. Seven Years in Tibet [No Longer Available]
Starring a rather youthful Brad Pitt, 1997’s Seven Years in Tibet is the true story of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer.
He was in Tibet between the end of World War II in the mid-1940s and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s invasion of the region in 1950.
It’s not always factually accurate, but the movie gives a great insight into Tibetan culture, the Dalai Lama, and the circumstances which led to Tibet’s current political limbo.
Also, it’s got Mount Everest in it, which is always a good thing for anyone chasing wanderlust.
Even if wizards, orcs, and hobbits don’t do it for you, it’s hard to argue with the breath-taking backdrop to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.
The entire series was filmed on location in New Zealand. Some special effects were used in parts, but most of the scenery makes it to the screen completely unedited. If you visit the country, make sure you visit Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom), Kawarau Gorge (the Anduin River), and Fiordland National Park (Fangorn Forest).
Unlike some of the other films on the list, The Lord of the Rings is also critically acclaimed. The final installment, The Return of the King, won 11 Oscars, equalling the records of Ben-Hur and Titanic.
Your Favorite Movies to Inspire Wanderlust
Taking you from the deserts of Africa and the quaint streets of Europe to the North Pole and mountains of Asia, these 10 movies are sure to stimulate tour desire to travel.
Of course, there are many more wanderlust-inspiring films out there. However, some of the best, like The Motorcycle Diaries, aren’t available on Netflix at the time of writing.
Which movies do you watch to remind yourself about the pleasures of traveling? You can leave your suggestions in the comments below. Or share the article with any friends you feel need a kick up the backside in order to broaden their horizons.
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