40 travel movies, 40 destinations

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40 travel movies

Isn’t it amazing how images and films can inspire us so much to go and explore the world? Sometimes it’s actually the other way around, where an amazing travel adventure has inspired the script of a movie hit. But we want to focus on the first one: movies that inspire us to go travel.

We have made a thorough selection of movies that directly or indirectly touch on the theme (travel), while showing us traces of the destinations where the film takes place: the culture, the food, the landscapes, the locals and their customs… So without further ado, here you have them:


1. Afghanistan: The Kite Runner (2007)

The Kite Runner | Cometas en el Cielo

Based on the book from Afghan-American author Khaled Hossein, the movie tells the story of two young boys in Kabul while set against the historical events that took place in Afghanistan: from the fall of its monarchy, through the exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries, to the rise of the vicious Taliban regime.

2. Alaska (USA): Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild | Hacia Rutas Salvajes

The true story of Christopher J. McCandless, an adventurous soul that left everything behind to embark on a journey into the Alaskan wilderness.

3. Antarctica: Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Encounters at the End of the World | Encuentros en el Fin del Mundo

Not to worry, this flick does not include any fluffy little penguin dancing on the ice. Instead, this mesmerizing documentary shows the mindset of the scientists that willingly abandon civilization to live and work at one of the most desolated yet beautiful landscapes on earth. A window to one of the least-visited places on earth and the ultimate frontier for many travelers.

4. Argentina: Chinese Take-Away (2011)

Chinese Take-Away | Un Cuento Chino

A Chinese man who comes to Argentina unable to speak a single word of Spanish will find in Roberto, the owner of a small hardware store and a very peculiar man, the helping hand he needs to achieve his goal. A series of cultural clashes between the two make for a great film.

5. Australia: Tracks (2013)

Tracks | El Viaje de Tu Vida

A man craving for solitude begins a solo trip on camel across the Australian desert with reaching the Indian Ocean as his main goal.

6. Brazil: Central Station (1998)

Central Station | Estación Central

The life of former school teacher Dora takes a turn when one of her clients is killed in a bus accident, leaving behind a 9-year-old son without anybody to care for him. The two begin a road trip through Brazil to find his long-missing father.

7. Bhutan: Travellers and Magicians (2003)

Travellers and Magicians | Viajeros y Magos

Dondup is bored with life in his tiny village, so he decides to go to Thimphu to apply for a visa to the United States, the place he’s dreamt of visiting all his life. But on the way there he befriends a group of travellers among which there is a monk with a very interesting story.

8. Chile: Loco Forever (2001)

Loco Forever | La Fiebre del Loco

People from all over the country arrive to a small fishermen’s village in Chile in search of abalone after the government temporary lifts the ban on the collection of this precious mollusk, famous for its aphrodisiacal effects.

9. China: Lost on Journey (2010)

Lost on Journey

It’s only a few days before Chinese New Year, the busiest traveling time in China, when people go back home to visit family and friends. In this travel madness a wealthy and arrogant businessman crosses paths with a gullible migrant worker heading to the same town. A chaotic journey together awaits them.

10. Colombia: The Wind Jouneys (2009)

The Wind Journeys | Los Viajes del Viento

Ignacio, a vallenato singer, and his young apprentice start a journey through several Caribbean towns in the north of Colombia. They hope to find his old master to return him the accordion which Ignacio believes to be cursed.

11. Korea: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring again (2003)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring | Primavera, Verano, Otoño, Invierno... y Otra Vez Primavera

When a young Buddhist apprentice encounters a girl that arrives to the monastery by chance, his urging temptation moves him to leave his secluded life and follow the girl into a modern way of life that he never knew before.

12. Cuba: Guantanamera (1984)

Guantanamera

A romantic comedy depicting life in Cuba in the 1990s through a road trip across the island, from Guantanamo to Habana.

13. Ecuador: How much further? (2006)

Qué tan lejos

An unexpected duo of female travelers, one from Quito and another from Barcelona in Spain, are forced to improvise their way to Cuenca, in the south of Ecuador.

14. USA: Wild (2014)

Wild | Alma Salvaje

Determined to halt her downward spiral and heal herself after years of destructive behaviour, Cheryl decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the country’s longest and toughest through-trails — even though she has no outdoors experience.

15. Spain: L’Auberge Espagnole (2002)

L'Auberge Espagnole | Una Casa de Locos

After a French university student moves to Barcelona aiming to score a job, his experience at the house where he resides with young Europeans of different nationalities will prove life-altering, to say the least.

16. Finland: Lapland Odyssey (2010)

Lapland Odyssey

Three men on a mission to acquire a digital television adapter in the middle of the night. An almost-impossible task that will have them driving several hundred kilometers to accomplish their goal.

17. France: Welcome to the North (2008)

Welcome to the Sticks | Bienvenidos al Norte

The manager of the postal service in a small town in southern France does everything to get a job at an office on the Mediterranean coast to please her wife. But instead, he’s assigned to a cold and rainy region in the northern part of the country.

18. India: PK (2004)

PK

A satirical science fiction comedy film about an alien, PK, who comes to earth on a research mission, but plans change when his spaceship is stolen. His new human friend, a television journalist, will help him find it back while PK questions religious dogmas and superstitions in contemporary India.

19. Iran: Blackboards (2010)

Blackboards | La Pizarra

Two teachers lugging blackboards on their backs and looking for illiterate children to educate in the rocky interlands of Iran go their separate ways after they scatter when confronted by a helicopter border patrol. One of the first movies to feature all dialogues entirely in Kurdish.

20. Irak: Kilómètreo Zéro (2005)

Kilomètre Zéro | Kilómetro Zero

A long journey to escort the coffin of a dead Iraqui soldier back to his family presents the perfect opportunity for Ako, a Kurdish soldier that was forced to join the Iraqui Army, to finally defect and return to his beloved Kurdistan.

21. Irland: Leap Year (2010)

Leap Year | Tenías que Ser Tu

An American woman travels to Ireland to propose marriage to her boyfriend on leap day, when tradition holds that men cannot refuse such a proposal from a woman. But things will further complicate when she has to travel to Dublin to find him before it’s too late.

22. Israel: The Band’s Visit (2007)

The Band's Visit | La Banda Nos Visita

The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives by mistake in a small town in Israel. The mishap will have the eight Egyptian men who comprise the band overcoming ethnic barriers in order to fraternize with the locals.

23. Italy: Bread and Tulips (2000)

Bread and Tulips | Pan y Tulipanes

Rosalba, an Italian housewife, finds herself stranded during a family vacation. She decides to hitchhike her way back home, but not before taking a detour to Venice.

24. Japan: Kikujiro (1999)

Kikujiro | El Verano de Kikujiro

The story of a young boy searching for his mother during his summer vacation. He will be accompanied by his neighbor’s husband, a compulsive gambler who’s rather reluctant about the whole journey.

25. Kazajstan: Tulpan (2008)

Tulpan

After being recently released from military service, Asa travels to the Kazakh steppes to fulfil his dream of becoming a shepherd. But before that he needs to find a wife.

26. Kenya: The White Masai (2005)

The White Masai | La Masai Blanca

What initially starts like a short vacation trip with friends to Kenya ends up becoming an impossible love story for Carola, a German woman from Switzerland that becomes infatuated with a local Masai. A true story that talks about culture clashes and worldviews.

27. Laos: The Rocket (2013)

The Rocket | El Cohete

Ahlo and his family are forced to move when their village is cleared to make way for a new dam. During the move they come across a rocket competition in preparation for the greatest celebration in the country: the Rocket Festival. This presents the perfect opportunity for Ahlo to change his fate once and for all.

28. Morocco: Majid (2010)

Majid

Majid, a ten-year-old Moroccan orphan realizes that he can’t no longer remember the faces of his deceased parents. Having no photographs of them either, he’s joined by his new friend Larbi to go find a photograph of his parents, a journey that will take them to the big city of Casablanca.

29. Mexico: And Your Mother Too (2001)

Y Tu Mamá También

Two hormone raging teens go on a cross-country escapade during the summer. Along this carefree journey they’ll be joined by a gorgeous older woman, making things that more interesting.

30. Mongolia: The Weeping camel (2003)

The Story of the Weeping Camel | La Historia del Camello que Llora

Deep in the Mongolian Gobi desert, a group of nomadic shepherds witness how one of their camels gives birth to a white calf, a rare occurrence. The offspring is rejected by its mother and fearing that the new-born camel will die without its mother’s milk, the two boys of the family are sent off across the dessert to go find the only person that can help solve the situation and save the calf’s life.

31. Norway: Kitchen Stories (2003)

Kitchen Stories

A group of Swedish efficiency researchers go to Norway for a study on Norwegian men in order to optimize how they use their kitchens. The first rule of the study is to avoid any personal interaction with their subjects, but camaraderie between researcher and researchee will prove inevitable.

32. Nepal: Highway (2012)

Highway

An introspection into five different relationship stories intertwined during an ill-fated bus journey from eastern Nepal to the capital, Kathmandu, immobilized by the often common general strikes in the country.

33. Nunavut (Canada): Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

Atanarjuat

An epic film made by and about the Inuit peoples of the Canadian arctic, tells the story of a crime and how justice is achieved so healing can begin.

34. Romania: Gadjo Dilo (1997)

Gadjo Dilo | El Extranjero Loco

A young french man from Paris travels to Romania in search of the singer Nora Luca, his father’s favorite singer right up until he passed away.

35. Senegal: Touki Bouki (1973)

Touki Bouki

Tired of poverty, two young Senegalese men come up with different schemes to raise enough money for a trip to Paris, where they hope to start new lives and change their fate.

36. Southeastern Europe: In July (2000)

In July | Im Juli

A heartbroken street vendor decides to hitch a ride with no particular destination in mind, only to end up in the car of his platonic love, a neighbour. The two will begin an exciting road trip from Germany to Turkey across Southeastern Europe during the hot month of July.

37. Thailand: Teddy Bear (2012)

Teddy Bear

After learning about his uncle’s successful love story in Thailand, Dennis, a thirty-eight year old Danish bodybuilder decides to try his luck in the Southeast Asian country and find a woman to marry.

38. Tibet (China): The Saltmen of Tibet (1997)

The Saltmen of Tibet

Documentarian Ulrike Koch follows four Tibetan men as they make their yearly spring voyage to Lake Tsento, a 3-month pilgrimage, to gather raw salt for the coming winter season.

39. Uruguay: The Pope’s Toilet (2007)

The Pope's Toilet | El Baño del Papa

After learning that Pope John Paul II will visit the town of Melo in Uruguay, the locals of  this humble village rejoice thinking of all the things the thousands pilgrims coming to town will need and buy from them. But Beto, a petty smuggler, is convinced that he has found the best business idea of all: The Pope’s Toilet”.

40. Vietnam: Buffalo Boy (2004)

The Buffalo Boy | Buffalo Boy

Set in 1940s southern Vietnam, Kim agrees to take his family’s two buffalos inland from the water-logged coast during the rainy season in search of food. The journey will discover him the reality of his country and human nature.

The list could be even longer, but we thought 40 was a pretty good number and enough movies to have you busy and inspired for moths to come. However, if you would like us to create a “sequel” of this post, with more travel movies and new destinations, please let us know on the comments’ section. And don’t forget to share with friends if you liked the post 😉

Happy travels!