I love movies. Ever since I was a kid and my mom and I stayed up late to watch old films during summer vacation, I’ve loved the escape—the fantasy. Travel is the same. I lose myself in a new world, new cultures and new experiences. Throughout the years, movies have played a key role in my adventures, and with that in mind, I wanted to share my list of top travel movies with you: films that have inspired trips in the past or put new destinations on my radar.
They might do the same for you!
I’m a big James Bond fan, or should I say, I’m a big Daniel Craig, James Bond fan. Casino Royale is one of my favorites in the franchise’s 55-year-old history. Besides an action-packed and impressive storyline introducing the newbie hero, it hits all the right notes for me visually. The film was exquisitely shot in the Bahamas, London, Venice, Lake Cuomo, and I thought Montenegro. I just learned that the grand hotel scenes and the car chase through the mountains were actually shot in Karlovy Vary in Bohemia, west Czech Republic. Yep, on my list!
Robert Redford’s beautifully shot film starring Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer is set in Missoula, Montana but was filmed in Livingston and Bozeman—all three are incredibly scenic locations. Pitt and Sheffer play two brothers under the care of an overly religious father. Each rebel growing up in different and profound ways but share a bond over the beauty, serenity, and passion they have for fly fishing. The whole movie is wonderful but when they’re fishing on the Blackfoot River, it’s truly magical.
I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan, but The Last Samurai is one of my favorite films. Set in the late 1800s, an embittered Union Captain, Nathan Algren, war-weary and a drunk, is paid to teach the Japanese Emperor’s military to fight. The target: Katsumoto, played by Ken Watanabe, the last of the great Samurai leaders, and his warriors. Katsumoto captures Algren and takes him to his mountain village where he’s held for months. They learn about each other, war and honor and the realities of both in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever seen. I had the pleasure of meeting Edward Zwick the director a few years ago and I gushed about the locations. When I asked him where in Japan the movie was filmed, he chuckled and said, “New Zealand,” in the Uriti Valley, Pukekura Park, and Lake Mangamahoe. New Zealand went on my travel bucket list that very day.
The hustle and bustle of India, its bright colors, exotic sights and cacophony of sounds, are keenly represented in this delightful, heartfelt drama. Five British retirees begin anew in what they hope will be an inexpensive yet experience-filled new chapter of their lives. Of course, when does that ever happen without a hitch? Humor and tenderness ensue. John Maddon of Shakespeare’s in Love fame is the director so you know it’s good. The movie was filmed an hour and a half outside of Udaipur in the village of Khempur.
Extraordinary aerial shots, exquisite wildlife, romance, drama and a score so beautiful it makes my heart burst every time I hear it. Out of Africa is the quintessential film that does just about everything right when it comes to making someone want to get on a plane and embrace a Safari.
There’s a famous hill in the Mara Triangle near the Oloololo gate in Kenya where Meryl Streep and Robert Redford shot the film’s promotional photos (see DVD cover). I’ve visited this spot a few times with Wild Eye Photographic Safaris. The company has a celebratory breakfast there when a tour comes to a close. Angama Mara, perched 1000 feet above the Mara floor on the Oloololo escarpment, has the most incredible views of the Masa Mara in general and is only a 5-minute walk from this legendary location.
Steve Martin’s comical take on the story of Cyrano de Bergerac is an oldie but a goodie. A young astronomer, Roxanne, played by Darryl Hannah ventures to the small town of Nelson, Washington and meets two men: The attractive but vapid Chris, a fireman with the IQ and maturity of a 12-year-old and CB, the funny, intelligent fire chief with a nose the size of a cucumber. Roxanne falls in love with Chris, not realizing the romantic letters that have captured her heart were written by CB while being the ultimate wing-man. As one might expect, things get a little rocky. Why will this movie inspire me to travel you ask? Because EVERY time I see this flick, I want to move to the real town of Nelson, (in British Columbia, not Washington). It’s charming as can be. Not to mention miles and miles of soaring trees and breathtaking mountain peaks.
7. Jurassic Park
Helllooooo Kauai! From the moment I saw the waterfalls, lush fields and majestic mountains in Jurassic Park I knew I had to go. Truth is, I’m a mountain/rain forest kind of gal. Do I love water? Yes. But something about the look of Kauai that says endless hours of fun and exploration (and retirement) to me. Pair that with dinosaurs coming back to life and the movie is a gem.
8. A Good Year
British financier, Max Skinner, is a workaholic douche who inherits his uncle’s chateau and vineyard in France. He reluctantly flies to take ownership and promptly tries to sell it. That is until the sleepy, beautiful life his uncle once shared with him as a child, takes hold. He also falls for a hot French restaurateur, played by Marion Cotillard. The film is set in Provence but shot predominantly in Vaucluse. I don’t yearn to visit after seeing it, you’re made of stone and have much bigger problems than where to holiday.
I’ve become fascinated with my visits to otherworldly places like the Sahara Desert or the Kasakwulsh Glacier in Yukon.
I recently went to Greenland which moved up on my “must-see” list after watching Smilla’s Sense of Snow. The movie is a thriller starring Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne, which puts an interesting twist on the classic murder mystery. Something about the footage of snow, indigenous people, and icebergs captured my attention and Greenland seems ripe for an adventure.
Have you seen a movie with a location that’s inspired you to travel? If so, please share it in the comments below.
(This post utilizes affiliate links. Should you decide to purchase one of the DVD’s above, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)
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