I love exploring the world and going on once-in-a-lifetime adventures. And it was at a young age that I realized I had some crazy wanderlust in me. The need to travel often popping up right after watching travel movies, especially those revolving around crazy experiences while traveling.
As I got older and started traveling the world on my own, I drew on the same great movies to inspire and motivate me to visit new places that I may not have considered otherwise. Here are five of those films to, hopefully, inspire you to explore new destinations as well:
1. Into the Wild (2007)
Into the Wild is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a recent college graduate who gives away his life savings and hitchhikes to Alaska. He meets a variety of people along his journey and gets to learn each of their individual stories. Once McCandless reaches Alaska, he heads to the wilderness to live on his own. Hils ultimate destination is “The Last Frontier” and he experiences countless adventures and exciting experiences along the way.
I watched this movie when I was in high school and, for the first time (but definitely not the last), I was inspired to embark on an epic adventure. During my teenage years, I had only ever heard stories of other people traveling. I had never imagined leaving my hometown, much less traveling solo. Watching the adventures of McCandless inspired me to chase thrills (within reason), and years later, I gathered the courage to go on my own adventures.
2. Wild (2014)
Based on a true story, Wild follows the story of Cheryl Strayed, a writer who took up a pair of ill-fitting hiking boots and a giant hiking backpack to make the 1,100 mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) after the tragic loss of her mother. The film retells Strayed’s journey across the Mojave desert, thick forests, snow-covered mountains, and every muddy path in between. Beyond her physical journey, this film also retells Strayed’s emotional journey – from bitterness and self-doubt to mental clarity and self-acceptance.
This is one of my all-time favorite movies because I was able to relate on an emotional level to several of Strayed’s experiences. When this movie was released I, much like Strayed, was struggling and incredibly self-destructive. And while my way of healing didn’t involve hiking the PCT, Strayed’s story instilled bravery in me to study abroad and travel on my own.
3. Tracks (2013)
Standing for real-life writer Robyn Davidson, Mia Wasikowska travels across the vast and breathtaking landscape of Western Australia with four camels and her beloved dog as her only company. Her occasional human visitors include a photographer for National Geographic, an elderly native Australian man named Mr. Eddy who guides her through sacred lands, and various tourists who want to see the “Camel Lady” for themselves. Davidson’s solo trip to the “Land Down Under” was unheard of for a woman in the 70s, but it’s also incredibly inspiring for women who want to solo travel today.
I love Tracks because watching women thrive on their own, especially while traveling, inspires me. It is a theme that I strive to imitate as well. Beyond the story line, the movie made me fall in love with Australia’s landscapes and add it to my travel bucket list; I was able to cross it off my bucket list a few years later!
4. Out of Africa (1985)
This movie takes place in 20th-century colonial Kenya where a married Danish plantation owner (Meryl Streep) falls into a passionate love affair with a free-spirited game hunter (Robert Redford). Streep and Redford star in this tragic love story, based on the autobiography written by Isak Dinesen. While the movie itself does not revolve around any traveling-related adventures, it was filmed on location in the UK and Kenya, including the Shaba National Game Reserve, and it does an incredible job of portraying the beauty of the African continent.
Initially, I watched Out of Africa to see Meryl Streep slay another acting role but this movie ultimately inspired me to put Africa on my travel bucket list. I can’t wait to see those scenes for myself in the near future.
5. Eat Pray Love (2010)
Eat Pray Love tells the story of a married woman who realizes how damaged her marriage truly is and wants to take her life in a different direction. After an ugly divorce, she embarks on a journey around the world (through Italy, India, and Indonesia) in hopes of “finding herself”.
This book-turned-movie has been inspiring people, myself included, to travel and seek a more meaningful life and career outside of their mundane normal reality. It was the last movie I watched before taking my first international trip.
These are just a few of the movies that have inspired me to see the world for myself without waiting for permission from anyone. I hope you watch them and find that they also inspire you to chase new experiences.