What movies to watch in quarantine? Great question. You may already have had your fill of zombie movies, virus movies, thrillers and best horror films on Netflix. Or perhaps – like us – those action flicks full of gore and disease are just not your flavor at all. Burning with a desire to watch anything other than news about the Coronavirus, perhaps global cinema is calling your name.
So let’s do lockdown movies your way: fun, freedom and flights to other countries. We had to cancel our holidays too – and that’s a big pain. Despite those real disappointments, we found we didn’t want to stop dreaming of adventures around the globe. For us, the best travel movies to watch while in quarantine are stories about venturing out, being elsewhere, and finding the truth was really deep inside ourselves from the beginning. We are in love with seeing the world – even right from our couch, as there are so many ways to do that now – and these films remind us why we fell in love with traveling in the first place. Whether it’s seeing the ocean – like the glittering sapphire seas in Mamma Mia – taking a train through India – as in The Darjeeling Limited – or getting up close and personal with nature – per The Jungle Book, we all have our own reasons to love travel and crave new adventure. That being said, if you are interested in learning who you are, making your own decisions, and taking time to ask yourself those hard questions like ‘What do I want in life?’ – travel films are definitely the best movies to watch in quarantine.
To help satisfy your wanderlust during these times, we compiled an entertaining collection of the 54 Best Travel Movies of All-Time:
The Lion King (2019)
Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes on his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa (loosely based on Kenya and Tanzania). But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates Simba’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother – and former heir to the throne – has nefarious plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy, and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. Now, with help from a supportive pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
Aladdin is a friendly street dweller who meets Princess Jasmine, the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah. While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin comes across a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, charismatic and, larger-than-life genie. As Aladdin and the genie develop a friendship, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer, Jafar, from overthrowing young Jasmine’s kingdom.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Raised on hip-hop and foster care, rebellious city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside, where he immediately finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the irritable Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes, that threatens to assign Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family.
Train to Busan (2016)
Train To Busan is a nerve-racking zombie horror-thriller that follows a group of passengers fighting their way through a countrywide viral outbreak while trapped on a suspicion-filled, blood-drenched bullet train ride to Busan, a southern resort city that has managed to hold off the zombie hordes…or so everyone hopes.
The Jungle Book (2016)
Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther and a free-spirited bear, the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a charismatic ape. Along the journey, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his classic story of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.
Driven to the edge by the loss of her adored mother, the dissolution of her marriage, and a reckless dive into self-destructive behavior, Cheryl Strayed makes a decision to halt her downward spiral and put her life back together again. With no outdoors experience, a heavy backpack, and little else to go on but her own will, Cheryl sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – one of the country’s longest and toughest hiking trails.
Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
Disillusioned with the tedium of his existence, psychiatrist Hector confesses to his girlfriend that he feels he is a fraud for dispensing recommendations to patients who never seem to improve or get any happier. He considers breaking out of his dull routine. Mustering up some courage, Hector gives his starved curiosity free rein and embarks on an international search to find the right formula to bring him joy and vitality.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave. Zero, a junior lobby boy, becomes Gustave’s friend and protege. Gustave prides himself on providing first-class service to the hotel’s guests, so when one of the women dies mysteriously, Gustave finds himself the recipient of a valuable painting and the chief suspect in her murder.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
James Thurber’s timeless tale depicts a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by withdrawing into a world of fantasies filled with courage, romance, and action. Walter is the photo editor at Life Magazine, where he spends day after monotonous day developing print photos for the magazine. To escape the routine of daily life, Walter creates a world of extraordinary daydreams in which he is the hero of his own life story. As fate would have it, he finally gets the opportunity to go a real adventure when Life’s new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue, which will take Walter on a journey around the world from New York all the way to the Himalayas of Nepal!
Not Today (2013)
Living as large as any 20-year-old could dream, Caden Welles’ expectations of a never-ending party in India crash hard – but not as hard as his conscience when he refuses to help a starving man and his little girl. Attempting to right his wrong, Caden’s eyes are forced open to a world few Americans know exists: the thriving human-trafficking trade. Spurred by a newfound purpose, an unlikely friendship, and the prayers of his mother and girlfriend, Caden leads an improbable search for the girl.
An adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name, Tracks follows the journey of an Australia woman who satisfies her craving for solitude by embarking on a solo nine-month trip accompanied only by her faithful dog and four camels from Alice Springs all the way to the Indian Ocean.
Life of Pi (2012)
After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels’ teenage son, Pi, as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal Tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive.
On The Road (2012)
Based on the iconic novel by Jack Kerouac, “On the Road” tells the timeless tale of Sal Paradise, a young writer whose life is shaken and ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty, a free-spirited Westerner. Traveling cross-country, Sal and Dean take off on a personal search for freedom from the conformity and conservatism submerging them in search of the unknown.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
The year is 1965, and the residents of New Penzance, an island off the coast of New England, live in a community that seems untouched by some of the things going on in the rest of the world. Twelve-year-olds Sam and Suzy have fallen in love and decide to run away. But a violent storm is approaching the island, forcing a group of quirky adults to mobilize a search party and find the youths before tragedy strikes.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Gil Pender is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee, he has taken to exploring the city alone. On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange — yet familiar — revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature. The more time Gil spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more disappointed he becomes with the present.
Life in a Day (2011)
On July 24, 2010, thousands of people around the world uploaded videos of their lives to YouTube to take part in Life in a Day, a historic cinematic experiment to create a documentary film about a single day on earth. From 80,000 submissions comprising of 4,500 hours of footage, the footage shot by people in 192 countries presents a time capsule for future generations to see what it was like to be alive on July 24, 2010.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
Some British retirees decide to outsource their retirement to exotic – and less expensive – India. Lured by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and imagining a life of leisure in lush surroundings, they arrive and find that the Marigold is actually a shell of its former self. Though their new home is not quite what they had imagined, the retirees find that life and love can begin again when they let go of their pasts.
The Loneliest Planet (2011)
This narrative highlighted by trust, masculinity and the complex dynamics of relationships unfolds as an incident on the hiking trail tests two lovers’ bond as they take a guided hiking tour through the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia.
Filmed over five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on 70mm film, Samsara transports us to the diverse worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Dr. Alfred Jones is a fisheries scientist who one day receives an unexpected request: A businesswoman named Harriet Chetwode-Talbot wants his help in fulfilling a wealthy sheik’s request to bring sport fishing to Yemen. Jones declines at first, but when the British prime minister’s spokeswoman latches on to the project as a way to improve Middle East relations, he joins in. Romance blooms as Jones and Harriet work to make the sheik’s dream come true.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Liz Gilbert thought she had everything she wanted in life: a home, a husband, and a flourishing career. Now newly divorced and facing a turning point, she finds that she is confused about what is important to her. Daring to step out of her comfort zone, Liz embarks on an epic quest for self-discovery that takes her to Indonesia, India, and Italy.
The Way (2010)
Tom is an American doctor who goes to France following the death of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago. Tom’s purpose is initially to retrieve his son’s body. However, in a combination of grief and homage to his son, Tom decides to venture on this path of pilgrims. While walking The Camino, Tom meets others from around the world, all discouraged and looking for more meaning in their lives. Along The Way, Tom discovers the meaning of one of the last things his son said to his father. There is a difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.”
180° South (2010)
Chris Malloy’s film strikes so deeply into the heart of Patagonia’s wilderness we come to feel at home there. 180° South documents the adventures of surfer and climber Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, on which they drove, mountain climbed and surfed their way to Chilean Patagonia. Along the way, he gets shipwrecked off Easter Island, surfs the longest wave of his life – and prepares himself for a rare ascent of Cerro Corcovado. Jeff’s life turns when he meets up in a rainy hut with Chouinard and Tompkins who, once driven purely by a love of climbing and surfing, now value above all the experience of raw nature – and have come to Patagonia to spend their fortunes to protect it. The film is a road trip movie, a historical document, and an environmental call to arms, but mostly a meditation on what matters most in life – staying true to one’s own vision and values.
Leap Year (2010)
When yet another anniversary passes without a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Anna decides to take action. Aware of a Celtic tradition that allows women to pop the question on February 29, she plans to follow her lover to Dublin and ask him to marry her. Fate has other plans, however, and Anna winds up on the other side of the Emerald Isle with charming but surly, Declan – an Irishman who may just lead Anna down the road to true love.
The Tourist (2010)
During an improvised trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, math teacher Frank Tupelo finds himself in an unusual situation when an alluring stranger, Elise, sets herself in his path. Their seemingly harmless flirtation turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse while various people, who all think that Frank is Elise’s thieving lover, Alexander Pearce, try to capture the pair.
127 Hours (2010)
While exploring a remote canyon in Utah, mountaineer and adventurer Aron Ralston becomes trapped when a boulder falls on his arm. Over the next five days, Ralston examines his life and considers his options, leading him to an agonizing choice: to amputate his arm so that he can extricate himself and try to make his way back to civilization or remain pinned to the canyon wall and likely die. Based on Ralston’s book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.”
Up In The Air (2009)
An idea from a young, new co-worker would put an end to the constant travel of corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham, so he takes her on a tour to show the significance of face-to-face meetings with those they must fire. While mentoring his colleague, he arranges hookups with another frequent-flier, and his developing feelings for the woman prompt him to see others in a new light.
Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness to complete a promise made to his late wife, Ellie. But Carl’s worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway aboard the balloon-powered house.
The Art of Travel (2008)
High school grad Conner Layne is about to marry his first love. But when wedding plans collapse, he goes solo on his honeymoon to Central America, finding adventure with a ragtag group of travelers who attempt to cross the Darien Gap in record time.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Donna, an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter’s wedding with the help of two old friends. Meanwhile, Sophie, the spirited bride, has a plan. She secretly invites three men from her mother’s past in the hope of meeting her real father and having him escort her down the aisle on her wedding day.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Struggling musical composer Peter Bretter is better-known as the boyfriend of TV star Sarah Marshall. After she unceremoniously dumps him, he feels lost and lonely but makes a last-ditch attempt to get over the breakup by going to Hawaii. However, Sarah and her new boyfriend are vacationing in the same hotel.
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
Americans Vicky and Cristina arrive in Spain for a summer vacation at a friend’s Barcelona home. Visiting an art gallery, they meet charming painter Juan Antonio, who invites them for a weekend of food and art. Sparks really ignite when his passionate former lover arrives, making for a very crowded and tense house.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
This Wes Anderson comedy-drama movie tells the story of three estranged brothers Francis, Peter, and Jack, as they reunite for a train journey across India. The brothers haven’t spoken in over a year, ever since their father passed away. Francis is recovering from a motorcycle accident, Peter cannot cope with his wife’s pregnancy, and Jack cannot get over his ex-lover. The brothers fall into old patterns of behavior as Francis reveals the real reason for the reunion: to visit their mother in a convent in the India Himalayas. Amid unfamiliar surroundings, can the brothers sort out their differences?
The Bucket List (2007)
Billionaire Edward Cole and car mechanic Carter Chambers are complete strangers until fate lands them in the same hospital room, where the men find they have two things in common: a need to come to terms with who they are and what they have done with their lives, and a desire to complete a list of things they want to see and do before they die. Against their doctor’s advice, the men leave the hospital and set out on the adventure of a lifetime where they go skydiving, fly over the North Pole, eat dinner at Chevre d’ or in France, visit and praise the Taj Mahal in India, ride motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, attend a lion safari in Tanzania, and visit Mt. Everest in Nepal.
Into the Wild (2007)
Christopher McCandless, the son of affluent parents, graduates from Emory University as a top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and lucrative career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set off on a journey through the Alaskan wilderness.
A Map For Saturday (2007)
A Map For Saturday documents a year’s travel through 26 countries on four continents, including Vietnam, Nepal, and Australia. Emmy winning producer Brook Silva-Braga left his cushy gig at HBO to travel the world with five pounds of clothes and 30 pounds of video equipment. Beyond the clichés of disorderly backpackers and dubious self-discovery, Silva-Braga finds a hidden world of long-term, solo travelers. At times lonely and challenging, more often joyous, and always adventurous, A Map For Saturday completes an around the world trip in 90 minutes.
Planet Earth (2006)
Although Planet Earth is technically not a movie, it is simply too good of a cinematic event to leave off this list. Dazzling, state-of-the-art high-definition imagery highlights this breathtaking nature documentary series featuring footage of some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders – from the oceans of the Caribbean to the deserts of Morocco!
Last Holiday (2006)
The discovery that she has a terminal illness prompts introverted saleswoman Georgia Byrd to reflect on what she realizes has been an overly unadventurous life. So Georgia withdraws her life savings and jets off to Europe, where she lives like a millionaire. Upbeat and passionate, Georgia charms everybody she meets, including distinguished Chef Didier. The only thing missing from her new life is her longtime crush Sean Matthews.
Que Tan Lejos (2006)
Esperanza and Tristeza, two young adventurers, set on a trip through the mountains and coasts of Ecuador. Ironically, when the bus they are traveling on breaks down, they decide to continue on their own, and that is when their real adventure begins. Every character they meet along the way will make them discover a new facet of themselves and the true meaning of love.
American call-center manager Todd is shocked to learn that his company is shutting down and shifting its operations to India. He is told that he will be heading the transition team and training his counterpart in Mumbai — a task he dreads. While initially baffled by Indian culture, Josh eventually begins to get along with his new colleagues, and, with the help of female staffer Asha, he learns to appreciate his new surroundings.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The Hoover family puts the fun back in dysfunctional by piling into a VW bus and heading to California to support a daughter in her bid to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. The sanity of everyone involved is pushed to the limit as the group’s quirks cause significant problems as they travel along their interstate route.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
Bridget, Carmen, Lena, and Tibby are best friends living in Maryland. After spending summers together, the four are finally going their separate ways for a few months: while Bridget heads to Mexico, and Lena visits family in Greece, Carmen and Tibby stay closer to home. No matter where they are, they are connected by a pair of jeans that they take turns sharing – pants that fit all four girls and exemplify their inseparable bond.
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
On a break before his last semester of medical school, Ernesto “Che” Guevara travels with his friend Alberto Granado from Brazil to Peru by motorcycle. The two men soon witness the vast disparities in South America, encountering poor peasants and seeing the exploitation of labor by wealthy industrialists. When they reach a leper colony in Peru, Ernesto’s values have changed so much that he sides with the sufferers, forgetting his own pleasure.
Lost in Translation (2003)
A lonely, aging movie star named Bob Harris and a conflicted newlywed, Charlotte, meet in Tokyo. Bob is there to film a Japanese whiskey commercial; while Charlotte is accompanying her celebrity-photographer husband. Strangers in a foreign land, the two find escape, distraction, and understanding amidst the bright Tokyo lights after a chance meeting in the quiet lull of the hotel bar. They form a bond that is as unlikely as it is heartfelt and meaningful. The movie explores themes of loneliness, insomnia, existential ennui, and culture shock against the backdrop of a modern Japanese city.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
When Frances Mayes learns her husband is cheating on her from a writer whom she gave a bad review, her life is turned upside down. In an attempt to bring her out of a deep depression, her best friend, Patti, encourages Frances to take a tour of Italy. During the trip, the new divorcée impulsively decides to purchase a rural Tuscan villa and struggles to start her life anew amid eccentric local characters, including the charming Marcello.
Nowhere in Africa (2001)
Sensing the threat posed by Hitler, Jewish lawyer Walter Redlich relocates with his wife, Jettel, and daughter, Regina, to a farm in Kenya. Regina adapts quickly, forming a bond with Owuor, the cook, but Jettel is unhappy. Things worsen when the family is made to move again, this time to Nairobi, by order of the British ruling authorities. Dispirited, Walter decides to join the Allied army – and Jettel finds comfort with other men.
The Beach (2000)
The desire to find something real – to connect with something or someone – is what drives Richard, a young American backpacker who arrives in Thailand with adventure on his mind. Once Richard finds himself in possession of a strange map, he decides to set off and see the solitary beach paradise it promises to lead him to. However, this paradise is less than perfect.
I Dreamed of Africa (2000)
Inspired by the true story of indomitable Kuki Gallmann, the film tells of a beautiful and curious woman who dared to escape from her comfortable yet monotonous life in Italy to start anew in the Kenya wilderness with her son, Emanuele, and her new husband, Paolo. Gallmann faces great danger there but eventually becomes a celebrated conservationist.
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
The tale of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, whose attempt to scale a Himalayan mountain peak, is interrupted by the Second World War. After many adventures, he finds himself in Tibet, where he befriends the Dalai Lama, gaining maturity and humility. However, turbulent times lie ahead.
Before Sunrise (1995)
On his way to Vienna, American Jesse meets Celine, a student returning to Paris. After deep conversations form a surprising connection between them, Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna. Since his flight to the U.S. departs the next morning and he has no money for accommodation, they wander the city together, taking in the experiences of Vienna and each other. As the night progresses, their bond makes departing in the morning a tough choice.
Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes viewers around the globe to witness a variety of spectacles in both natural and technological spheres. Detouring into former concentration camps, the production doesn’t shy away from the dark side of humanity, and ultimately shows how much of the world is interconnected by both the tragedy and the vibrancy of life.
Thelma and Louise (1991)
Resigned housewife Thelma joins her friend Louise, an independent waitress, on a short fishing trip. However, their journey becomes an escape from the law when Louise shoots and kills a man who tries to rape Thelma at a bar. Louise decides to flee to Mexico, and Thelma joins her. On the way, Thelma falls for a young thief J.D., and the sympathetic Detective Slocumb tries to convince the two women to surrender before their fates are sealed.
Out of Africa (1985)
Initially set on being a dairy farmer, the aristocratic Karen Blixen travels to Kenya to join her husband, Bror, who instead spends their money on a coffee plantation. After discovering Bror is unfaithful, Karen develops feelings for free-spirit big game hunter Denys, but realizes he prefers a simple lifestyle compared to her upper-class background. The two continue on until a series of events force Karen to choose between her love and personal growth.
The Endless Summer (1966)
Documentary filmmaker Bruce Brown follows surfers Michael Hynson and Robert August on an around-the-world surfing adventure. With Brown’s wry, sarcastic narration and a guitar-driven instrumental soundtrack by The Sandals playing over the silent footage, Mike and Rob leave their California home to visit Hawaii, Australia, South Africa and other secluded surfing spots in a search for the surfer’s holy grail that Brown dubs “The Perfect Wave.”