24 Travel Movies To Give You Wanderlust

Good travel movies aren’t always about going somewhere…sometimes it’s just about the journey inside your head.

These travel movies inspire me to get out of the rut that can be my life and to take chances. To challenge me. To do things that scare me a little. They help make me feel brave.

I chose these movies based on how they made me feel when I watched them. Most of these are about adventure…about doing something different…about changing your life.

About transformation…

Sometimes a girl just needs a little inspiration…

So….here are 24 of my favorite travel movies to (hopefully) inspire some wanderlust in you:

1. Two For The Road (1967)

This is a lovely movie about a married couple, played by Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. As they are driving through France, it flashes back to their relationship and how they have evolved through time. I saw this when I was quite young and it has stayed with me all these years. It made me dream of France long before I was able to go there.

2. Romancing the Stone (1984)

Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner star in this romantic comedy about a timid novelist who has to travel to the jungles of Columbia to save her sister. Along the way she meets a daring treasure hunter (as you do) that reluctantly helps her. The inevitable happens and she finds herself and love.

3. A Room With a View (1985)

Helena Bonham Carter plays a young, independent-minded, upper-class woman in 1908 England that must decide between a free spirit (played by Julian Sands) and her book worm fiance back home in England (played by Daniel Day-Lewis). Great scenes of Italy and the English countryside.

4. Out of Africa (1985)

This film is based on the true story of Karen Blitzen (played by Meryl Streep), who runs a Kenyan plantation and falls in love with a mysterious wild game hunter (played by Robert Redford), who she loves but can never belong to. There are beautiful, expansive scenes of Kenya.

5. Gorillas in the Mist (1988)

This is the compelling true story of Dian Fossey, a young primatologist and conservationist who travels to the forests of Rwanda to track rare mountain gorillas (while working with the famed archeologist, Louis Leakey).  Over the course of 18 years, she risks (and finally loses) her life protecting the animals she loves from poachers. She does this in spite of everyone telling her she is crazy and going against all the things a young woman “should” do. A beautiful story.

6. Thelma and Louise (1991)

This is the quintessential, girlfriend road-trip story of Thelma (played by Susan Sarandon) and Louise (played by Geena Davis) who drive across the American Southwest escaping the law and their good-for-nothing men in search of adventure. They ultimately don’t get their happy ending, but there are breathtaking shots of the Southwest that will make you want to go find a girlfriend and take off.

7. Before Sunrise (1995)

This is a lovely indie film that features Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy as two young travelers who meet on a train and decide to get off in Vienna together. They spend the day and night walking, flirting, and philosophizing as they wander the cobbled streets. This movie shows us how travel and trusting your gut can realign your life.

8. French Kiss (1995)

Meg Ryan stars as a woman who flies to France to win back her fiancé. Kevin Kline plays a French jewel thief who pretends to help her but has other plans. They go all over Paris and down to the French Riviera, through picturesque villages and rolling vineyards to the gorgeous beaches of Cannes. Beautiful…wish you were here!

9. The English Patient (1996)

This beautifully filmed love story stars Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott-Thomas as two people who fall in love in pre-war Egypt. The storyline is split between pre-war Egypt and post-war Italy and there are beautiful shots of Tuscany and sweeping shots of the Egyptian desert (that is actually filmed in Tunisia). This is what can happen when two people fall in love in the midst of chaos.

10. Deja Vu (1998)

Dana (Victoria Foyt), an American woman traveling on business in Jerusalem, meets a mysterious older French woman at a café. This woman shares a fascinating story of lost love that involves an expensive antique ruby pin she’s wearing. Dana feels like she has met the woman before (deja vu) and then goes on to meet a man she feels she has known her whole life. This is what happens when you trust your instincts and serendipity.

11. Almost Famous (2001)

The main story of Almost Famous is about William Miller (Patrick Fugit), who gets to travel with his favorite band on tour across America while writing for Rolling Stone magazine. But I think the bigger picture meaning is about following something that you’re so passionate about that you can’t not do it. It’s also being involved in something bigger than yourself and in finding your community.

12. Amelie (2001)

This is a beautiful, modern fairy tale about Paris, seen through the eyes of the quirky, lonely heroine, Amelie (played by Audrey Tautou). When Amelie finds an old box in the wall of her flat, she decides that she’s going to make the dreams come true of the people who are all around her. Paris has never looked so dreamy and surreal.

13. Chocolat (2001)

This is a story about what happens to a tiny French village, steeped in custom and tradition, when a mysterious woman and her daughter come and set up a chocolate shop. In her shop Vianne (Juliet Binoche) creates magical confections that inspire the villagers to act on their desires. But it is only when the handsome gypsy Roux (Johnny Depp) arrives in town that Vianne allows herself to settle in and love.

14. Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)

This is the story of what happens when a woman buys a villa in Tuscany after an awful divorce. We watch Frances (Dianne Lane) renovate her villa, make new friends and take day trips to Rome and the Amalfi coast while finding her way in a new country and a new life. After watching, you might think that dropping everything, leaving home, and moving to Tuscany is a great idea.

15. Before Sunset (2004)

This is the continuation of Before Sunset. It is nine years later and Jesse and Celine are encountering each other again, on the French leg of Jesse’s book tour. This time they talk about how their lives have gone and what it would have been like if they had turned up on the day they had agreed to meet. They do this all while walking through the magical streets of Paris.

16. A Good Year (2006)

This film stars Russell Crowe as an uptight banker who inherits his deceased uncle’s villa and vineyard in the south of France. At first, he just wants to sell it and make some money. But then he remembers why he loved his uncle and the south of France and decides to stay. It’s a movie for wine lovers and for people who understand the beauty of savoring the simple. You will want to head to your nearest vineyard…and to Provence…after watching it.

17. P.S. I Love You (2007)

A young widow, Holly (Hilary Swank) finds that her late husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler), has left her messages to help her start a new life without him. In flashbacks you see how they met and then how she finds her way. It will make you want to take a trip to Ireland, if, for nothing else, than to have a pint, listen to music and chew on some craic.

18. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

This movie follows the adventures and love affairs of two girlfriends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), as they fall for the same painter on a summer holiday in Spain. You will be entranced by the beauty and magic of Barcelona. It will make you long to catch a plane to linger over tapas, Rioja, and Spanish guitar for hours.

19. Julie and Julia (2009)

This is the true story of how Julia Child (Meryl Streep) inspired frustrated office worker, Julie, (Amy Adams) to cook her way through Child’s classic cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year. Feeling like she’s in a dead-end job and going nowhere, Julie resolves to cook every one of the 524 recipes. She finds, as she works her way through the recipes, that she has found a new life…one that she can live with passion. There are great shots of Paris and New York City.

20. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Liz Gilbert once had everything a woman is supposed to want – a husband, a house with a mortgage, and a successful career – but instead of feeling happy about it, she just felt confused and lonely. This is the story of how Liz (played by Julia Roberts) left all those things behind to spend a year exploring her nature in 3 different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and love in Indonesia.

21. Letters to Juliet (2010)

When Sophie (played by Amanda Seyfried) travels to Verona, Italy (where Romeo and Juliet met) she meets a group of women who respond to letters that are left on a wall asking Juliet for advice about love. Sophie finds a letter behind a stone in the wall that was written 50 years ago by Claire (Vanessa Redgrave). Claire responds and is inspired to travel to Italy to find her long, lost soulmate. Together Sophie and Claire set off on an adventure that changes both their lives. This is another movie that will have you pining for Tuscany.

22. Midnight in Paris (2011)

This is a love story to the ‘essence’ of Paris…to the way we used to think of it…a place where people sit in cafes and write all day…where salons existed to discuss new ideas…where painters struggled but were free to paint whatever they desired.  It is the story of a writer (played by Owen Wilson) who travels to Paris but can’t write when he gets there. To find inspiration, he finds himself walking the streets of Paris at night and is magically transported back to the 1920’s Paris of Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is an ode to another time in Paris and it will make you long for that time, as well.

23. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of retirees who travel to India to live out their days at a crumbling retirement hotel. This film shows that you are never too old for new adventures, to try new things, to travel or to fall in love. Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith.

24. Wild (2014)

This is the story of Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon), who hiked 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail after the crushing death of her mother. She walks alone, over deserts and through snow and mud to…finally… find self-acceptance and redemption.

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