Travel Films for Future Inspiration – Part I

Travel films: a road stretching to scenic snow-capped mountains

While indoors and wondering what to do next, why not escape to different countries by watching travel films based in other parts of the world. From Europe and Mexico to Thailand and India, comedy and romance to drama and thriller, we’ve got you covered. Here are 12 travel films to get you started…

In Bruges, 2008

Directed by Martin McDonagh, this dark comedy is set in the picturesque city it’s named after. Cobbled streets and medieval buildings fill the fairy-tale town, but the plot is anything but: think hit men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) laying low following a botched job, awaiting further instructions from their irate boss (Ralph Fiennes). Throw in a dwarf, a love interest named Chloe, and a half-blind thief called Eirik, and things are just getting started.

Lion, 2016

Based on the non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, this film tells the true story of Brierley’s mission to find his birth family. Rewind 25 years and the young five-year-old is lost on a train in his native India. Arriving in Calcutta several days later, he ends up on the streets, before being adopted by an Australian couple. Back in the present day, tortured Brierley (played by Dev Patel) feels the pull to find his biological mother and siblings.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation, 1985

Take a hilarious trip through London, France, Germany and Italy with the Griswold family: after winning a holiday on a game show called Pig in a Poke, Clark (Chevy Chase), his wife Ellen, and children Audrey and Rusty jet off on a whirlwind tour. The usual chaos ensues… car accidents, lost luggage, mistaken identity, and high-speed chases to name just a few. Will things end happily ever after for the disaster-prone clan?

The Beach, 2000

No list could be complete without this movie: based on Alex Garland’s novel and directed by Danny Boyle, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard and was filmed on the idyllic Thai island of Phi Phi Le. Using a map given to him by the rather strange character Daffy, Richard and a French couple leave Bangkok in search of a legendary beach paradise. Will this utopia be quite what it seems?

The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999

Set in the 50s, this psychological thriller is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 tale, and features a stellar cast including Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Underachieving and struggling Tom Ripley is paid $1,000 to go to Italy to persuade Dickie Greenleaf to return to New York. He charms himself into Dickie’s world and becomes infatuated with him and his indulgent lifestyle.

The Hangover Part II, 2011

The highly entertaining sequel is set in Thailand, where dentist Stu is due to marry Lauren. After the rehearsal dinner the Wolfpack gang and Lauren’s younger brother Teddy – a prodigy and pre-medical student – have a few beers. Cut to the next day and we see them groggily waking up in a filthy Bangkok hotel room. Gangster pal Leslie Chow is there too, plus a chain-smoking capuchin monkey. Stu has a face tattoo just like Mike Tyson’s, but they can’t find Teddy, only his severed finger…

Into the Wild, 2007

Top scholar and athlete Christopher McCandless graduates from Emory university. What next? Instead of entering the working world and forging a career, he decides to give his savings away to charity, divest himself of his possessions, and hitchhike to the wilderness of Alaska. Setting up camp in an abandoned city bus and living off the land, the experience is a life-shaping one. The adventure biography is based on a true story from the early 90s, and was directed by Sean Penn.

A Good Year, 2006

When he inherits his uncle’s chateau and vineyard in Provence, prickly investment banker Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) travels to France intending to sell the place. But when he misses his flight home and gets suspended from work, he ends up staying and is hit by memories of times he spent there as a child. Other characters include brusque winemaker Francis, fiery Fanny, and backpacker Christie – is there more to her than meets the eye?

The Darjeeling Limited, 2007

Quirky filmmaker Wes Anderson directed and co-wrote this comedy-adventure tracking a train ride across India taken by estranged brothers Francis, Jack and Peter. They’ve not spoken since the death of their father over a year ago, and each is suffering from depression. One’s recovering from a motorcycle accident, another can’t cope with his wife’s pregnancy, and the third has issues with an ex-girlfriend. Though distrusting of each other, they embark on a spiritual journey.

Roma, 2018

Set in the early 70s, this drama follows a year in the life of Cleo, an indigenous Mixtec woman and live-in housekeeper helping Antonio and Sofía take care of their four children. Written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, it’s a semi-biographical take on his upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City.  “Ninety percent of the scenes represented in the film are taken out of my memory,” says Alfonso.

The Way, 2010

This Spanish picture was written by Emilio Estevez and stars Martin Sheen as Tom, a father heading to France to recover the body of his son Daniel. He was killed during a storm while walking ‘El Camino de Santiago’, a large network of routes spanning Europe that come together at the tomb of St. James in north-west Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. Instead of returning home, Tom decides to take the pilgrimage himself.

Murder on the Orient Express, 1974

A British murder mystery based on Agatha Christie’s 1934 paperback, it employs the little grey cells of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) in solving the murder of a wealthy business tycoon. The unfortunate incident occurs aboard the Orient Express when heavy snow halts the train in the Yugoslavian countryside. Who’s the culprit – one of the passengers, or did the assassin sneak on?

These travel films are available via a number of means: Netflix, Sky, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon…

Main image courtesy of Bryan Goff on Unsplash