Top 10 travel movies

10 tales of travel and adventure

If you feel your sense of wanderlust has been lacking as of late, just check out these 10 movies all based around travel and adventure and you’re sure to be packing your bags in no time. Alternatively, if you want to go travelling but don’t have the time or money to do so, these movies will take you all the way around the world and back again without ever leaving the comfort of your own sofa.

Top 10 travel movies

Up in the Air (2009)

Tagline: The story of a man ready to make a connection.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a man whose life revolves around travel. He is hired by companies as a ‘Career Transition Councellor’ to fire employees for them, and spends much of his life on planes. Up in the Air provides a wonderful depiction of otherwise mundane aspects of air travel, as we see Ryan has mastered packing his single suitcase and is able to glide through airport security with a robot-like efficiency. He even gives motivational talks about his travel based lifestyle; “Imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It's kinda exhilarating, isn't it?" However, when he comes close to reaching his dream of 10 million frequent flyer miles he starts to reflect on his rootless way of life, and questions whether it is making him truly happy.

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

Tagline: It's a wonderful world, if you'll only take the time to go around it!

This travel epic tells the story of Phileas Fogg (David Niven) who sets out to prove that it is possible to travel around the whole world in only 80 days. Despite several remakes, none can quite beat the 1956 version. Fogg heads for Paris with his butler and they meet a travel agent called Thomas Cook who offers them a balloon ride to Spain, where they have to engage in a spot of bullfighting. Other notable spots along the way include India, Hong Kong, and the Wild West. This country hopping tale should be more than enough to inspire you to plan that round-the-world trip!

Lost in Translation (2003)

Tagline: Everyone wants to be found.

When jaded actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) travels to Japan to film a whisky advert, he finds an unlikely companion in the half his age Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson). Both are lonely and lost as they struggle to adapt to a culture that they don’t understand. The whole movie encapsulates the feeling of intimidation and confusion when travelling to an unknown country, and the neon cityscape of Tokyo provides the perfect backdrop for Bob and Charlotte’s developing relationship.

The Endless Summer (1966)

Tagline: The search for the perfect wave.

Considered the definitive surf movie of all time, in The Endless Summer documentary maker Bruce Brown follows two young surfers around the world in search of the perfect wave. They certainly find a few and meet their fair share of interesting local characters along the way. Their surf mission takes them to Australia, the USA (California and Hawaii), Ghana, New Zealand, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tahiti – the majority of whose reputation as notable surf spots stems from Brown’s film. Some of the people they meet have never even heard of surfing, which as you can imagine makes for some great scenes.

Sunshine (2007)

Tagline: 50 years in the future, Earth’s Sun is dying.

The longest journey on this list by a long way, in Sunshine a team of astronauts are travelling 90 million miles to the Sun in the hopes of restarting the dying star that threatens to destroy the earth. Ironically, such a long journey into the wonders of deep space just makes the team miss the earth more than they ever thought possible; a great reminder that we should see and experience as much of our beautiful planet as possible.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Tagline: What he really wanted was to spend Thanksgiving with his family. What he got was three days with the turkey.

Advertising executive Neil Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home from New York to his family for Thanksgiving, but fate seems to be getting in his way by putting him in contact with Del (John Candy); a well-meaning shower curtain ring salesman who manages to annoy him at every turn. It’s a comic movie with Martin and Candy both perfectly suited for their role, and it’s one that you can watch time and time again and still find something that you missed the last time round. Their disaster of a trip takes in a flight, a train ride, a coach trip, a car journey, and even a lift in the back of a cold storage container, something that we do not recommend you try.

In Bruges (2008)

Tagline: Shoot first. Sightsee later.

Ever been dragged on a holiday you really don’t enjoy? That’s exactly the situation assassins Ray and Ken (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) find themselves in when their angry boss sends them to the picturesque Belgian city of Bruges. This dark comedy revolves around their antics as they try to entertain themselves by sightseeing, befriending the locals, evading drug dealers and taking part in the odd shoot-out here and there.

Easy Rider (1969)

Tagline: A man went looking for America. And couldn't find it anywhere…

Easy Rider is a road-trip with a difference, as two long-haired bikers from Los Angeles take off on a cross-country trip to New Orleans in an attempt to discover the ‘real’ America. Along the way they meet several unusual characters in a movie that examines and celebrates counter-culture in the USA. A surprising box-office hit, the two hippie motorcyclists (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) cross the Southwest, with the filming taking in some of the iconic scenery of Louisiana, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. The thumping rock ‘n' roll soundtrack and epic setting will have you wanting to throw on some leathers, grow a moustache, and hop on a bike to start a road-trip of your own.

Up (2009)

Tagline: The spirit of adventure.

In this animated adventure from Pixar we are shown a whirlwind account of Carl Fredricksen’s life; from adventurous young boy, to adult, to grumpy old man. Carl finally gets sick of the greedy corporation trying to buy his house off him, so ties thousands of balloons to the roof of his home and flies away using possibly the most unique method of transport ever seen in a movie. He’s on a mission to reach Paradise Falls in South America to fulfill the lifelong dream he shared with his late wife, but has an unwanted guest along for the ride. Up manages to be both hilarious and heartwarming at the same time, and Carl’s childlike sense of wonder and adventure is something we would all do well to emulate. 

The English Patient (1996)

Tagline: In love, there are no boundaries.

The English Patient is the moving story of a Hungarian mapmaker and the dying memories of his life of love, loss and adventure. After being burned horribly when his plane was shot down while crossing the Sahara Desert during WWII, he is tended to by a Canadian nurse and his past is patched together in a series of flashbacks. The movie is set in Italy and Egypt, but the dazzling desertscapes were actually filmed in Tunisia, with the contrast between the intimate story and the expertly filmed sweeping landscapes working together perfectly to make for an enthralling watch.

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