We all love traveling to some extent. Traveling is fun, teaches us new things, and helps us make new friends along the way. However, since life doesn’t always allow us to travel to places all the time, we can resort to travel movies as an escape.
On our movie site, we’ve compiled the 15 best travel movies compiled just for you – enjoy watching!
Summary of the Top 4 Best Travel Movies
These travel movies have a 90%+ rotten tomatoes review. I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching one of the 4 curated options below.
Reviews of 15 Best Travel Movies
1. Roman Holiday (1953)
The movie tells a tale of a princess who wants to temporarily rid herself of the royal obligations and enjoys her time in Rome. There she meets an American reporter, Joe Bradley (by Gregory Peck), who guides her around town.
Audrey Hepburn’s acting in the film as Anya (a pseudonym she uses to hide her true identity) earns her ten Academy Awards and an Oscar.
|Stars||Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn|
|Genre||Comedy Drama Romance|
2. Out of Africa (1985)
Out of Africa is an American rom-com directed and produced by Sydney Pollack – starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. It is based on an autobiographical novel by a Danish author – Isak Dinesen (a pen name used by Karen Blixen).
The film begins with Karen marrying her ex-lover’s brother Bror Blixen. The couple traveled to Africa and settled in Nairobi, Kenya, where they ran a coffee plantation.
Soon later, the couple falls apart as Bror is more interested in hunting, drinking, and flirting with other women than helping Karen out.
While trying to manage the farm on her own, Karen finds herself attracted to a hunter named Denys Finch Hatton (played by Robert Redford).
|Stars||Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Klaus Maria Brandauer|
3. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert is an Australian comedy-drama and one of the best travel movies written and directed by Stephan Elliott.
The film follows the life of two drag queens – portrayed by Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, and a transgender woman – played by Terence Stamp as they travel from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus named Priscilla.
Many themes are explored – including the conservative attitudes of the local people towards the characters.
The movie received worldwide recognition for its positive portrayal of the LGBTQ community. It won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design and was shown at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. It was later adapted into a musical – Priscilla, Queen of the Desert that toured around the world.
|Stars||Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Bill Hunter|
|Studio||Fox Home Entertainment|
4. The Beach (2000)
The Beach is an adventure drama film directed by Danny Boyle based on a novel of the same name by Alex Garland.
The film stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Richard – a young American who is backpacking in Thailand as he meets a few fellow travelers and a Scotsman named Daffy Duck (played by Robert Carlyle).
Daffy later commits suicide and leaves Richard a map to a secluded place in Thailand he calls ‘a paradise on earth’. Richard and his friends decide to find the spot and encounter many adventures along the way.
|Stars||Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen…|
|Genre||Action/Adventure Drama Romance|
|Studio||20th Century Fox|
5. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Catch Me If You Can is a biographical crime film and one of the best travel movies directed and produced by Steven Spielberg based on the life of a famous American con-man, Frank W. Abagnale.
Following his parents’ divorce, Frank runs away from his family while still a teenager. Desperate for money, he forfeits bank checks to steal millions of dollars.
Realizing he’s pretty good at this, Frank goes on to pull off grander schemes including impersonating a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer.
A little into the movie enters an FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), who is at Frank’s tail trying to bring him to justice.
|Stars||Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken…|
6. Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)
Under the Tuscan Sun is an American rom-com written, produced, and directed by Audrey Wells. The film is based on a memoir of the same name.
The protagonist is Frances Mayes (also is the book author’s name, played by Diane Lane) – a writer from San Francisco – whose life turns upside down when her husband cheats on her for a much younger partner.
To cheer Frances up, her best friend Patti gifts her a tour ticket to Italy, which stops at a small town called Cortona. Frances ends up purchasing a villa and spends much time in the countryside – where she makes new friends – one of whom may turn out to be her true love.
|Stars||Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan, Raoul Bova|
|Studio||Buena Vista Pictures|
7. Lost In Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation is a rom-com written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Bob Harris (portrayed by Bill Murray) is an American movie star who travels to Tokyo to promote Suntory whisky, where he meets another younger American – Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson) staying in the same hotel.
The pair seem to bond over commonalities such as being disoriented in a culturally different place and Bob is experiencing strains in his 25-year marriage while Charlotte is questioning her recent marriage to John.
|Stars||Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi…|
8. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
The Motorcycle Diaries is a biopic about the journey of a 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara, who would later be known as the iconic Marxist guerilla leader and revolutionary Che Guevara.
In 1952, Ernesto (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) is about to complete his medical degree when he decides to embark on a road trip across South America with his biochemist friend, Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna). It turns out to be a trip of a lifetime as they encounter events that showcase the rich and complex social atmosphere of the Latin American continent at the time.
|Stars||Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Mia Maestro|
9. The Bucket List (2007)
The Bucket List is a buddy comedy-drama film directed and produced by Rob Reiner, starring Jack Nicholson as Edward Cole and Morgan Freeman as Carter Chambers.
Edward and Carter are two elderly men with rather dissimilar backgrounds – Carter is a mechanic while Edward is a billionaire healthcare tycoon. They meet for the first time at a hospital after both have been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and start bonding.
Realizing they have a list of things they’d like to do before their time is due, the duo decides to embark on a journey to fulfill their ‘bucket list’ – including going skydiving, driving a Shelby Mustang, riding motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, and many more.
|Stars||Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes, Rob Morrow|
|Genre||Action/Adventure Comedy Drama|
|Studio||Warner Bros. Pictures|
10. Up In The Air (2009)
Up in the Air is an American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Walter Kim. The film revolves around the life of Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) whose job involves helping the company lay off people.
He’s also a frequent flyer and spends time visiting many places across the country.
Although previously wishing to be free of relationships, on his way to reach the goal of 10 million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines, Ryan meets Alex (Vera Farmiga) – a professional woman, who may turn out to be the woman of his dreams.
|Stars||George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Danny McBride|
11. Eat Pray Love (2010)
Liz Gilbert used to be a typical married woman, with a stable career and a house. Nevertheless, she still felt as if something was missing. Following a divorce, she decides to embark on a journey around the world to reconnect with her inner self.
The journey covers destinations such as Italy – where she finds plenty of good foods, India – where she practices the local prayers, and finally Indonesia – where she stumbles upon the love of her life.
|Stars||Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins…|
12. The Way (2012)
The Way is an American-Spanish drama film directed, produced, and written by Emilio Estevez. The protagonist is Dr. Thomas Avery (portrayed by Martin Sheen) – an American ophthalmologist who goes to France to retrieve his son’s remains. Daniel – a Christian pilgrimage, died on route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.
Later on, Tom decides to walk the ancient spiritual trail while taking Daniel’s ashes with him. Along the way, he meets and makes friends with pilgrims from all over the world.
Although looking to honor the Camino de Santiago and the traditional pilgrimage, Emilio says that his film does not just target one group of demographic but rather is pro-humanity. It is an inspirational story about family, friends, and life challenges.
|Stars||Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen, Emilio Estevez|
13. Tracks (2013)
Tracks is an Australian drama film directed by John Curran based on Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name. The movie stars Mia Wasikowska as Robyn and Adam Driver as Rick Smolan.
Robyn – a city girl – decides to leave everything behind to embark on a 2,000-mile journey across the Australian desert. Her companions on this self-discovery trip include her dog and four camels. Needing funds for the trip, Robyn agrees for Rick (a National Geographic photographer) to tag along.
|Stars||Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver|
|Studio||The Weinstein Company|
14. Wild (2014)
Wild is a biographical adventure drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallee based on a memoir ‘Wild: From Lost Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’ by Cheryl Strayed.
Grief-stricken over the loss of her mother Bobbi, Strayed gets herself into heroin addiction and sleeps with strangers, which strained her marriage with Paul.
A recent divorcee, Strayed decides to go trekking to find herself again, beginning in the Mojave Desert in southern California.
|Stars||Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern|
|Studio||River Road Entertainment|
15. Paris Can Wait (2017)
Paris Can Wait is a comedy film and one of the best travel movies written, co-produced, and directed by Eleanor Coppola starring Diane Lane as Anne, Alec Baldwin as Michael, and Arnaud Viard as Jacques.
Anne is an American woman, married to Michael – a well-known movie producer. They intend to fly from the South of France to Paris but Anne is unable to due to her ear infection. Michael’s producing partner, Jacques – offers to help drive her there instead.
The car trip turns out to be rather pleasant as they take detours to try out different French cuisines.
|Stars||Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin|
|Studio||Sony Pictures Classics|
Best Travel Movies – FAQs
This depends a lot on your personal taste. Do you have a location or an actor that you particularly like? For Leonardo DiCaprio fans out there, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ may well be your top film choice among this list.
Most people would agree that traveling makes you become more open-minded. As you are exposed to new places and people of dissimilar backgrounds, you get to learn a lot more about the world and also discover new things about who you are.
A travel film is a film that focuses on travel as its main theme. It could be a travelogue, or another genre in which the protagonists travel to many places and a lot of work is put into capturing the beautiful sceneries.
The general consensus around who is the first travel writer is an ancient Greek geographer named Pausanias. He wrote the book Hellados Periegesis (aka Description of Greece) – which is the oldest and most detailed travel guidebook in human history.
A travelogue is more or less a recount of your travel trip. The main types of travelogue include a travel narrative (the writer tells their travel story in a style similar to a personal journal).
The second one is instructional meaning the writer writes in a way that is similar to an instruction manual so that readers can have easy-to-access information about many places.
The last type is place description where the blogger provides detailed information including how they feel about a certain destination.
Best Travel Movies: Conclusion
Hopefully, the movie list above has somewhat satisfied your inner wanderlust. We’ve made an effort to include a variety of travel films – covering different locations across the globe, and featuring stories of people from all walks of life. The message is clear – no matter who you are or where you’re from, traveling will benefit you in many ways. And watching travel movies is a good start.