The best travel movie ever is a very personal opinion as everyone will have different tastes, but this is the one I have enjoyed the most out of all of them as an overall feeling of what travel can be about.
There are so many travel movies many of which are simple affairs, while others are packed full of adventure. So it all depends on the mood you’re in, and what you’re looking to inspire you.
I’ll give some quick mentions of some other favourite movies before getting to the best.
Each of these have inspired me for different reasons.
Lawrence of Arabia
A classic movie about a British army officer in Palestine during World War 1, who joins with the local arabs and immerses himself into their culture.
A great movie for adventure and to see how it is to give up what you are used to and become part of a foreign culture.
You can rent or buy it here: Lawrence of Arabia
The Endless Summer
This is a documentary from 1966 that follows 2 surfers around the world looking for the perfect wave.
But it’s much more than that. It’s about the fun and adventure that travelling with friends can be and the new people that you meet along the way.
This will make you want to hit the road with your best friend and have fun!
You can buy it here: The Endless Summer
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
This is an absolutely hilarious movie from 1987 about 2 completely opposite characters stuck together while trying to get home to Chicago.
The straight cut Steve Martin versus the loud and out-going John Candy. Through many funny incidents along the way they slowly form a friendship, and learn more about life. Something that travel is great for.
If you want to laugh out loud then watch this movie!
You can buy it here: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Seven Years in Tibet
This one will inspire you to head to the Himalayas and Tibet in particular. The main draw of this movie is the spectacular scenery and exploration of Tibetan culture.
It tells the true story of 2 Austrian mountaineers during World War 2 who escape the British in India, and travel across the Himalayas into Tibet where they meet the young Dalai Lama and the character played by Brad Pitt gives him lessons about the modern world.
You can rent or buy it here: Seven Years in Tibet
One of the best road trip movies ever as 2 friends from Los Angeles explore the counter culture of America during the late 1960’s on their way to New Orleans.
If you haven’t watched this you’re seriously missing out on one of the best travel movies.
You can rent or buy it here: Easy Rider
A Cheesy but Classic Mention
Ok, no list would not be complete without a fun adventurous movie that’s sort of travel based. The best of which is the Indiana Jones series.
These movies are what I grew up on, well except from the last one which to be honest was not that great. They are cheesy but represent a lot of adventurous style travel.
Totally fictional but totally brilliant. Makes you want to have crazy adventures!
You can buy the complete series here: Indiana Jones
There are a whole load of other travel movies but these are some of my favourites. If more come out in the future that I love I will add them to the list.
The Best Travel Movie
And the best movie for me about travel and being lost in a new culture is:
Lost in Translation.
Many of you may be thinking what I’m on about with so many great travel movies out there, but like I said this is a personal opinion, and I’m going to explain why for me this is the best.
The film is the story of an old faded film actor from America played by Bill Murray who is in Japan to shoot a commercial, and a young neglected woman played by Scarlett Johansson who is visiting with her husband who is sent there to work.
Both are somewhat confused, jet lagged, and find each other to explore Tokyo and all the hilarity that comes about being lost in a new culture.
The main reason is it portrays what the movie title says: being totally lost in translation.
The alienation of landing in a place totally unfamiliar to you is perfectly portrayed in this movie. But the thing that makes it stand out to me is that it is generational.
You have the young woman (Scarlett Johansson) and the older man (Bill Murray), and it shows that no matter how old and experienced you are in life, you can still be totally culture shocked and surprised.
That’s brilliant as many older travellers, especially longer term ones that have had many experiences, can get the feeling that they’ve seen it all. While the younger ones feel the sense of new awe.
I’ve been travelling the world for over 18 years having many crazy adventures, and going through all the feelings that travel brings. But it was getting very difficult for me to get a new rush on going to a new place, as often it would remind me about places I had been before.
However I went to Japan (where Lost in Translation is set) for the first time at the end of 2013 and was totally blown away. So much was new and different to anywhere I had been before, and I had spent a lot of time in Asia before that.
It was exciting.
I was totally lost in translation and seeing new things, and I loved it. Lost in massive techno cities, while still seeing traditional old culture.
That’s what this movie shows.
It’s a movie about discovery, not just in the travel sense, but also about life. These are things that any traveller will feel as new places will make you think more about the world around them. It’s an expansion of the mind.
Scarlett Johansson plays that role. The younger person with eyes wide open at all the new things around her.
The movie also shows the connection that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson share in an alien place. It’s a feeling I have shared with many younger travellers down the road.
The movie represents how much fun travel can be as well, with meeting new people and having good times, no matter your age.
It doesn’t have the off the beaten path adventure etc, but for me it shows the emotions of being perfectly lost in translation and the fun that travel inspires.
You can but the movie here on Amazon with this link: Lost in Translation
Like I said before many people will not consider Lost in Translation the best travel movie ever. Hell some people will think I’m crazy. The movie isn’t absolutely perfect, it has a few flaws, but that can easily be overlooked by how it shows the true raw feelings of being lost in the travel experience.
If you haven’t seen it then you should.
A quick ending note is that one of my least favourite travel movies is The Beach. I read the book back in 1998 on my first trip to Thailand and it was brilliant, but the movie version cuts so much out of the book that it makes it terrible for me. If you haven’t read the book but watched the movie then you might like it. Trust me though, read the book.
What are your favourite travel movies?
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