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With such a wide selection of films on Netflix, it can be hard to find the right one. Well we’ve done the hard work for you – scouring out the best of the best when it comes to travel-inspired movies.
A heartbreaking true story, the journey that an eager Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) undertakes ends in tragedy. This keen traveller embarks on an epic trip across North America, culminating in an extended (and ultimately terminal) stop in Alaska. Into the Wild was written and directed by Sean Penn and has a narrative structure that will captivate you as much as the story itself.
This film is, in part, the classic story of a kid running away from home to escape his troubles – but it is also one of the funniest films on Netflix. Director Taika Waititi infuses his quirky sense of humour into the film (something that has landed him the role of director for Thor: Ragnarok , which is out in October) but there is also a sense of wonderment that comes from the New Zealand backdrop.
Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Trainspotting must have been something of a journey for the director himself. Going from the streets of Edinburgh and a relatively unknown cast, we find ourselves in the company of Leonardo DiCaprio among the lavish islands of Thailand. You’ll definitely feel the travel-bug bite early on, but this is also a warning about some of the potential dangers of going too wild.
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This film is proof – not that we needed it – that travelling and embarking on new challenges isn’t just a young person’s game. Following the success of the first film, most of the gang are back and this time they are joined by an American in the form of Richard Gere. The growth of India, both economically and as a travel destination, is part of the story and so are the characters we have now grown to love.
What to do when you have more money than you can possibly spend? Well, if you’re this particular Arabian, billionaire sheikh you decide you want to fish for salmon in your own back yard… the only problem is that you need to build a fresh water stream from scratch to accommodate your dream. Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is the man asked to make the impossible a reality.
An underrated Tom Hanks performance is a rare thing indeed, given that this actor is one of the most critically praised of modern times. However, the small-scale, intelligent Hologram for a King seems to have flown under the radar. A washed up American salesman heads off to Saudi Arabia to put together a holographic video conference, and along the way he realises a lot of his concerns about the region are shared by the locals he meets.
Here is another one of those journeys that wasn’t exactly ‘planned’. Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt), who is travelling in British India, finds his affiliation with Germany landing him in huge trouble once the Second World War breaks out. Even though he is far from the war zone, Harrer is still deemed to be a threat and ends up in a British POW camp. Eventually escaping with his friend, Harrer has to traverse a dangerous border to the safety of Tibet, where he spends seven years discovering himself.
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This exhilarating documentary isn’t going to be on Netflix for long, so you’ll have to be quick! Laura Dekker isn’t your ordinary 14 year old. This keen seafarer was intent on becoming the youngest person to sail round the world before a Dutch court (concerned for her safety) decided to step in. The film is a thrilling testament to the desire we all have to explore, even if some us have an extreme interpretation of what that means.
This road trip movie stars comedy legend Paul Rudd, rising Welsh star Craig Roberts and international pop star Selena Gomez. This hugely talented trio portray cantankerous and argumentative characters who are also determined to reach their target of the world’s deepest pit. You’ll get a real sense of what makes for a good – and bad – road trip from this Netflix original.
Imagine being able to do the job you love out on the open road. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well for L.A. based chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) the lure of opening a food truck is just too great, especially when it means he can return to his hometown of Miami. Picking up dishes and ideas along the way, this film won’t just get your feet itching to travel, it will also set your belly rumbling, thanks to some gratuitous shots of mouth-watering food. Do not watch this when hungry.
Also known as El faro de las orcas in its native language, this film tells the story of a mother’s desperate bid to help her autistic son. Lola travels from Spain to Argentina, hoping to meet with a ranger famed for his special bond with killer whales. Lola hopes that meeting this man will help engage her son with his emotions. As unlikely as it may sound, the ranger character is based on a real person, Roberto ‘Beto’ Bubas, with the film being an adaptation of a book he wrote about his experiences.
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On the surface of it, this heartbreaking story doesn’t seem like the most inspiring film to set you off on your travels, but stick with it – the payoff is astounding. Saroo Brierley is a young boy living in rural India. After being separated from his family and unable to identify where he lives, Saroo ends up on the street and, subsequently, in a home for abandoned children. Thereafter the young boy is adopted by a loving Australian family, but as he grows older his memories return and he becomes desperate to find his family. There are several standout performances (including the superb Sunny Pawar, who plays five-year-old Saroo) and the real-life origins of the story will leave you in floods of tears.
The final film on our list is another one based on a true story. Reese Witherspoon steps into the well-worn walking boots of Cheryl Strayed and embarks on a lengthy trip across America. Told through a series of flashbacks, as well as the linear depiction of an exhausting journey, we see how Cheryl is trying to piece her life back together after a messy divorce and the death of her mother.Wild is one of those films where you find yourself initially flabbergasted at the naivety of the main character, but eventually root for her to make it.
For more travel inspiration, you might like our Big Little Lies journey to Monterey