Movies about travel have a large impact on our lives. They have the power to transport us, to make us long for the locations depicted, whether that's traveling to a private island in Hawaii or hitch-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Travel movies also fulfill our wildest dreams. Under The Tuscan Sun fed movie-goers fantasies of buying and restoring an Italian countryside villa. When we see Midnight In Paris, where Owen Wilson is walking along the Seine at night and the whole city is aglow, we immediately want to leap off the couch, pack our bags and jump on the first plane to get to the most iconic and romantic place in the world.
The flipside to this are the travel movies that make you glad that you've already used up your vacation days. These travel thrillers are sneaky. They are all set in breathtaking places, but instead of enticing us, they are menacing. Brokedown Palace is about two friends who travel to Thailand and end up serving a 33-year prison sentence because they were trusting, not careful. 127 Hours is about James Franco who sets himself on a trip to go climbing and hiking, and the movie was so effective in scaring us that critics warned us not to watch the film before going to the Grand Canyon. Yikes!
So there you go. Some travel movies are captivating and magical. Others are out to scare you. If you want to hear more, or if you're planning a trip that's depicted in a movie in an unflattering light, we've put together 15 travel movies that'll make us hop on a plane, and 10 movies that'll make us want to stay home.
25 Makes Us Travel: Into The Wild
Into the Wild is one of the best travel movies out there. Starring Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Keener, the movie is based on the true story of a recent college grad who gives everything up so he can hitchhike in Alaska. It's about meeting new people who all have stories to tell, enriching the character's worldview. It's also about learning how to be self-reliant. According to Earth Trekkers, this travel movie will really inspire you, despite the tragic ending.
24 Makes Us Travel: Midnight In Paris
Midnight in Paris (2011) is about an unhappy screenwriter who goes to Paris with his fiance's family and mysteriously travels back in time to the 1920s, where he meets Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, among others. But the movie is more than a man's quest to find himself in his writing. It's a love letter to Paris, and it has inspired many to visit the city that director Woody Allen has lovingly brought to life. As Paris Perfect put it, "This is Paris at its most magical—the monuments, the views, the changing colors—everything that draws you in."
23 Makes Us Stay Home: Titanic
Titanic (1997) was both a romance and disaster film that followed the forbidden romance of a rich Rose (Kate Winslet) and a penniless Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) who are doomed on a cruise ship after it hits glacier rocks. There's a point where everyone is saying there's absolutely no way that the ship can sink, as WhatCulture reminds us, but it's the audience who sink as time passes and the cruise starts to crack in half, sending passengers into the frigid waters. Titanic is the reason why we fear going on a cruise ship.
22 Makes Us Travel: Eat Pray Love
Eat Pray Love stars Julia Roberts who, after going through a painful divorce, decides to travel around the world to find herself. In her quest to self-discovery, Roberts finds herself eating in Italy, praying in India and loving in Bali. Like most travel movies on this list, Italy, India and Indonesia are beautifully shot thanks to the excellent cinematography. According to IMDb, ever since it was released, "the movie has been inspiring people to travel, and seek a life or career outside the big buzzing cities."
21 Makes Us Stay Home: 127 Hours
James Franco stars as an adventure-seeker in 127 Hours (2010). He's content hurling himself around and climbing and hiking in the Grand Canyon no matter how dangerous these activities are. Franco accidentally gets one of his limbs trapped under a boulder. He can't free himself, but so as not to spoil the movie, we're leaving this part out. But it's scary! As Little Grey Box put it, "Do NOT watch this before going to the Grand Canyon. You’ve been warned."
20 Makes Us Stay Home: The Shallows
In The Shallows (2016) Blake Lovely plays Nancy, a young woman who wants to do nothing but surf on a remote beach. In this thriller, Nancy is harassed by a Great White and ends up being stranded on a rock some yards from shore with no one around to help. As The Cut put it, The Shallows is like being on a boat: "You feel nauseous, trapped and simultaneously anxious." As Nancy goes toe-to-toe with the shark, you also feel bad for her. She's just an innocent girl on vacation. As The Culture Trip put it, "[Y]ou’ll think twice about going in the water on your own."
19 Makes Us Travel: Wild
Wild is about a young woman who's a lost soul, a former addict who's divorced and who lost her mother to cancer. She embarks on a hiking trip to find herself, covering 1,100 miles while starting in Mojave, CA and finishing at the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon-Washington border. The movie singlehandedly immortalized the Pacific Crest Trail. According to Traveller, many admired the courage of the woman "who set off alone on what can only be described as a physically and mentally punishing walk." Despite the hardship, we'd gladly hop on her trail so we too could have a new outlook on life.
18 Makes Us Travel: The Beach
The Beach is praised for making you want to visit its locale, Thailand, and for making you want to date a young Leonardo DiCaprio who appears shirtless in many scenes. DiCaprio plays Richard, a traveler who seeks out adventures. While in Thailand he meets a tourist who tells him there's a secret uninhabited island in the nearby Gulf. Richard then embarks on a quest to find the place, but when he finally locates it, things aren't what they seem. InStyle praises the movie for making you feel like you're there.
17 Makes Us Travel: The Bucket List
The travel movie The Bucket List is about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they leave this world. The film will make you want to get out there and live the life you've always wanted. As the two men travel across America, you'll want to be beside them at every point and to learn how to be happy while in the moment. While it's a tearjerker, the film's message reveals how you can leave this Earth without any regrets. In addition, theplanetD argues that this film will inspire wanderlust.
16 Makes Us Stay Home: Brokedown Palace
Brokedown Palace will make you fear going to Thailand. But that's what two best friends do. Starting out as a travel movie and showing Thailand in its best light, the film quickly turns into a cautionary tale about how one of the girls falls for an Australian man whom they later discover has duped them into smuggling something bad out of the country. After being questioned by the local police, they end up serving a 33-year prison sentence. This is everyone's worst nightmare! As Little White Lies put it, "If this film doesn’t turn you off traveling, it will at the very least prompt you to check your luggage before boarding the plane."
15 Makes Us Travel: The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited tells the story of three brothers who, after the passing of their father, travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other. A.O. Scott, the movie critic for The New York Times, said this about Limited: "[The movie] is odd . . . but [is a] nonetheless beautifully handmade object as apt to win affection as to provoke annoyance." While that's ambivalent, we'd gladly hop on the train in India to sight-see the places seen in the movies: the Himalayas, the temples in Jodhpur and India as seen through the director's eyes: a foreign country beaming with a kaleidoscope of bright colors.
14 Makes Us Travel: The Before Trilogy
Director Richard Linklater's trilogy started in 1995. The first film that year was Before Sunrise. Nine years later, Before Sunset appeared and nine years after that Before Midnight rolled into theaters. The romantic drama is about two friends, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who spend the first movie flirting and philosophizing. Each movie takes place in different foreign cities (Vienna, Paris, and Messenia, Greece) and they all serve as the third character, as Conde Nast Traveler pointed out. We would hop on a plane to get to see the three locales, all of which are beautifully shot.
13 Makes Us Stay Home: A Perfect Getaway
In 2009's A Perfect Getaway, Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn are celebrating their marriage by honeymooning on a remote Hawaiian island. The movie is not just one of those travel movies that make you not want to go the place depicted, it's also a thriller, as another couple who are hitchhiking meet up with Jovovich and Zahn and we don't know who's evil or good as a few bodies start to pile up. As The Los Angeles Times put it, "Suddenly, the idea of a remote, three-day hike doesn't sound so appealing."
12 Makes Us Travel: Amelie
Amelie (2001) is a whimsical story about a beautiful and impish ingenue who likes to discreetly intervene in the lives of the people around her. The movie is like the book Love in the Time of Cholera, which wears its heart on its sleeve without the slightest trace of irony. More importantly, it's a travel movie that was shot in over 80 Parisian locations. According to Conde Nast Traveler and many other sites, the movie guarantees that you'll fall in love with Paris as seen through Amelie's eyes and will get on a plane fast to travel there.
11 Makes Us Travel: The Motorcycle Diaries
Set long before Che Guevara became a revolutionary Latin American icon, The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) is one of those travel films that will make you fall in love with South America's stunning destinations, as Escape pointed out. We see the Atacama Desert, Nahuel Huapi Lake, Patagonia, Machu Picchu and Buenos Aires and more. Based on Guevara's memoirs, he and a friend ride across South America on a motorcycle for over eight months. In the process, the trip showed him his life's calling, as IMDb stated.
10 Makes Us Stay Home: Deliverance
Deliverance, released in 1972, starts off as an adventure story but quickly turns into a thriller. It's about four city slickers who are on an Appalachian canoe trip and who are enjoying themselves in the great outdoors until the locals show up and spot them. There's a wrenching infamous scene at the center of the movie "lacing the story with moments so intensely disturbing and so ultimately heartbreaking," as The Huffington Post put it. You'll think twice about going on a canoe trip, especially when it's in a remote area.
9 Makes Us Stay Home: The Impossible
The Asian tsunami in 2004 took the lives of almost a quarter-million people in 14 countries. The Impossible tells that story, focusing on a family who are tourists in Thailand and who get caught in the tsunami. The movie will make you avoid Thailand. It's a thriller of the worst kind because this time you can't duke it out with the bad guys. Instead, you're up against a natural phenomena. As The New York Times put it, "The Impossible plunges the audience into the catastrophe and then immerses us in the panic, grief and disorientation of the aftermath."
8 Makes Us Stay Home: Vacation
Vacation (2015), the reboot of the Vacation movies starring Chevy Chase, stars Ed Helms who plays a grown-up Rusty Griswold. Like his father before him, Rusty gathers up his wife and kids for a family road trip to the Walley World theme park. But of course, as The New York Times points out, at every turn, something goes wrong, mistakes and blunders are made, and a "wholesome" family vacation turns into a nightmare full of laughs. It makes us never want to take a vacation trip with our family.
7 Makes Us Travel: Julie and Julia
Julie and Julia is often considered the ultimate foodie movie because it shows, in loving detail, two women cooking French food. But it's also a travel movie, according to A Traveler's Library. It shifts from the past, where Julia Child is in Paris and enrolls in a cooking school, to the present, where blogger Julie Powell decides to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook in New York. The Paris we see is a place we want to travel to immediately, as Meryl Streep, who plays Child, does a great job of showing us how she falls in love with Paris as if it were the only desirable city in the world.
6 Makes Us Travel: Out Of Africa
In Out of Africa, set in 20th century colonial Kenya, a married Danish baroness (Meryl Streep) has a love affair with a big-game hunter (Robert Redford) that is doomed from the start. It is one for the books because the Oscar-winning cinematography captures Africa in a sweeping and epic way, making you want to travel there so you too can visit the Shaba National Game Reserve, Ngong Hills, and the African savannas. According to The Telegraph, it's the film that made us fall in love with Kenya.
5 Makes Us Stay Home: Taken
Taken is a travel thriller starring Liam Neeson who sets out on a mission in France to find his daughter who was taken by some pretty gad guys. The flimsy premise is a joke: the daughter barely makes it out of Charles De Gaulle because she climbs into the car with a random man. Had she not been told when she was young to never take candy from strangers? Well, according to Global Goose, the movie instilled fear into many parents whose teenagers went off backpacking in Europe. Not all parents have their own Liam Neeson to hunt down their young ones.
4 Makes Us Travel: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), directed by Woody Allen, is set in Spain. A quote from Spain's tourist page revealed that Allen's script regarded Barcelona as a character, and he wanted to honor this city that he loved so much. "It’s a city full of visual beauty and the sensibility of the city is quite romantic." We agree. In the film, we are taken to lovingly-shot cities like Barcelona (in Catalonia), Oviedo and Aviles (both in Asturias) as well as sites such as the Barcelona Harbor, the Spanish countryside and the Santa Maria del Mar Church. If you don't want to hop on a plane to go to Spain, then you must've seen the wrong movie!
3 Makes Us Travel: Lost In Translation
We never knew how beautiful Tokyo was until we saw Lost In Translation. The movie inspires us to take a visit there to see all the locations the movie covered: Daikanyama, Shinjuku Park Tower, Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto and Nanzen-ji Temple’s Sanmon gate. Lost In Translation is about two strangers, one young, one more mature who are in Tokyo and who become unlikely friends at a time when both of them are feeling a degree of loneliness in a foreign city packed with millions of people. It reveals, in a poignant manner, how even the most traveled "can still experience culture shock or times when things do get 'lost in translation,' as Southern Gypsy put it.
2 Makes Us Travel: Under The Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) is about a writer who impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in order to change her life. The movie is gorgeously filmed, so you only see remote villas and rolling hills and a ton of wine and sumptuous food in the best light. This is a true travel movie that gave audiences a peek in to how their lives could look if they visit one of the most romantic destinations in the world. In fact, Hollywood Reporter described the film as one “which fed filmgoer fantasies of buying and restoring an Italian countryside villa."
1 Makes Us Stay Home: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
This is a travel movie that will really make us want to stay home. While Planes, Trains and Automobiles is now a classic and also a very funny movie, who would want to step into Steve Martin's shoes, who plays Neal, a man who is traveling during the worst travel time in the year, Thanksgiving. He's trying to get from New York City to Chicago, but his flight is canceled due to bad weather. He ends up sharing his trip with the late John Candy. The New York Times finds the last shot heartbreaking, but so as not to reveal spoilers, you'll just have to see the film to find out.
Sources: Earth Trekkers, Paris Perfect, IMDb, Hollywood Reporter, Southern Gypsy, Global Goose, The Telegraph, WhatCulture, A Traveler's Library, theplanetD, The New York Times, Traveller, Little White Lies, Little Grey Box, Conde Nast Traveler, The Los Angeles Times