Some say that even when I’m not, my mind is always travelling. They say that even when I’m home, I am always be doing something travel related, watching some travel show or reading some travel article. It’s like I’m just obsessed with travel.
Travel is such a big part of my life, that for most of the past decade and a half kept dreaming and day-dreaming about it.
Like many, I draw my travel inspiration from films, TV series, documentaries, and the sort. Each time I finish watching any of these, I feel the sudden urge to pack my things and just go!
So, if you’re looking for some motivation to start your backpacking dream, below are some of the best (in my opinion) movies, TV series and documentaries to watch to get you out there and discover the world!
The Beach follows Richard, an American backpacker in Thailand in search of what most of us travellers look for, adventure and the unknown. One day, he meets a strange character before he is given a map of a secluded island paradise that “no one knows about”. He heads on to the island with Françoise and Étienne, a French couple he met the at his hostel. Once at the island, he finds a place where travellers live alongside cannabis growers. As time passes, Richard will find that the island is less than perfect, and that the secrets and the price the travellers pay to remain at the island is more than what he bargained for.
Following Richard through his adventure of discovery makes this a great travel movie. In addition, the images of Bangkok, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Phi Phi are spectacular and will make you put Thailand on your travel list as soon as the movie is done.
Wild is an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found in the Pacific Crest Trail. It follows the story of Cheryl, who after losing her mother went on a downwards spiral of drugs and sex, which eventually destroyed her marriage. With nothing left and zero hiking experience, she sets out on a 94-day 4279-KM-long journey of self-discovery to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the USA‘s longest hiking trails.
This is a movie for anyone looking for inspiration to move on to the next stage on their life, whatever that next stage is. It is also an inspiration for anyone who is going or has gone through hard times in their personal lives, delivering a message of regaining control of your own life. An amazing film with a lot of travel inspiration.
Y Tu Mamá También is an unrated Mexican movie which follows the story of two teenage boys, Julio and Tenoch, and a woman in her late twenties whom they met at a wedding, Luisa, as they road trip through Mexico to a beautiful hidden beach the boys promised but that doesn’t exist. During their road trip, they not only learn much about themselves but also about each other and the world around them.
As the characters go through their road trip, we are able to see some of the realities of poverty outside of the big city, something that many of us having travelled to remote countries witness. Also, the discoveries the characters make about themselves through their journey will make travel reminisce about past travel experience.
Living On One Dollar is a powerful documentary which follows 4 American friends who decide to leave the comforts of home behind, and attempt to live in Guatemala for two months for $1.00 USD per day. They work in exchange for a roof and a basic daily meal. During their journey they will experience illness, hunger, and financial distress, to the point of urgently needing medical care and not being able to afford it.
Although filled with challenges and showing the reality of living in poor rural areas, the documentary also does a great job at showing the goodness in people and the willingness to always help. Throughout the documentary, we see how locals come together in a community not only to help the protagonists, but also each other. After seeing this documentary, you will want to get involved first hand.
Craigslist Joe is a documentary produced by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), which follows Joseph Garner, who for a month decides to leave home and try to survive on the generosity of others who he befriends using Craigslist. Shelter, meals and transportation are only acquired through the connections made through Craigslist.
Armed with only a laptop, the clothes on his back and a toothbrush, Joe searches through Craigslist for anyone looking to share a ride, share their home. As a result, he will end up visiting many of the major cities in the USA such as Chicago, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. All through the connections he made.
This documentary is travel inspiring for many reasons, but mainly because of the display of generosity from people Joseph meets during his journey. The connections he made and the friendships he built during his month-long experiment are something that will remind many of the people we’ve met during our travels.
Departures follows the adventures of two fellow Canadians, Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, as they travel the world along with their cameraman, Andre Dupuis. As they travel they set out to visit some of the most off-the-beaten-track destinations around the world, taking them to such places like Antarctica and North Korea.
The show does a great job at portraying life as it happens in all of the places visited, and is filled not only with information about the places but common backpacker commentary about nonsense. This is one of the best shows I’ve seen which clearly shows that the journey is just as important, if not more, than the destination.
I’m not much for reality shows, but I had to include this one on my list. The Amazing Race is THE show that finally gave me the travel inspiration I needed to set up and go around the world.
In this show, teams of two compete on a race around the world taking them to at least 11 countries in the span of a month. Through the race, they must complete challenges inspired by the local culture, such as learning a bollywood dance in India, boil water without fire in Argentina, and so much more!
This show is so popular that it has spanned similar shows in Canada, Asia, and Australia. The Amazing Race has given me loads of travel inspiration throughout the many years I’ve been watching, and as I said earlier, it gave me the kick-in-the-butt I needed to start my trip around the world.
Have you seen any of these? Where do you draw your travel inspiration from?