Friday, August 7, 2009

Top 10 Travel Inspiring Movies

We can’t always be out touring the world, but with our home theatre dolby seven point who knows what speaker systems complete with bass subwoofer to destroy our neighbours hearing and shake the very foundations of our home, it’s easy to keep the spirit alive for those times between trips.

Yes, with movies on our side there’s no end to what we can view from the relative comfort of our living rooms – I say relative, because movies watched and listened to at the appropriate volume may not be quite as suitable as one would like. But hey, if you’re gonna do it – you might as well do it big.

So without many further off tangent ramblings, I now present to you – the top ten travel inspiring movies (this list created by the one.year.trip scientific research association of North America – OYTSRAoNA for short – pronounced oyt-sara-ona. Catchy, isn’t it?) - Also be sure to check out The Top Ten Movies No Traveller Should Ever Watch. Now one more thing before you jump into this list – you may be expecting things like Under the Tuscan Sun, and The Sound of Music. You’re not likely to find those here. This is a somewhat different list, ‘cause I’m a somewhat different person.

1. Lost in Translation
This may seem like a cliché gimme, contrary to what I just wrote about me being a different person, but there are few movies that capture the true spirit of Tokyo, Japan quite like Lost in Translation does. Sure you’ve got your Memoirs of a Geisha, and your Snow Falling on Cedars to help recapture the Japanese Culture (Even the Last Samuri helps in this respect) but it’s Lost in Translation that really brings you into the modern city of Tokyo, and helps convey just what it can feel like to be a tourist there.

2. Thin Red Line
This movie will give you the urge to visit tropical islands more than any other (never mind that it was mostly filmed in Australia, and the Soloman Islands.) Nature takes the forefront in this war movie. So much of this film seems to be a heavy handed, over the top, in your face effort to show you how nature is the true victim in battles – and though that may hurt the plot, it definitely helps with the travel inspiration.

3. 28 Days Later
Are you about to go to London? You need to see this movie. A zombie movie?! Sure, why not? You will become instantly familiar with all the major tourist points in the city, as well as an understanding of how the city comes together. There is nothing like standing in the middle of Piccadilly circus, watching the hundreds of people all around you, and then thinking back to just how powerfully eerie it would be in the film when that whole area is deserted.

4. Pearl Harbor
Another war movie? I don’t know what it is about them, but this movie made me want to go see Hawaii more than anything else I’ve watched. Not only that, but it show cases parts of Japan, as well as England, and Urban / Rural America. Ultimately this is a love movie, with the war as a backdrop – but even so nothing has made me want to get out there and see the Hawaiian islands quite like this has.

5. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Though taking place, mostly, in America there are a number of parts where Bruce Lee is in China. This movie offers, not only insight into the life of one of the greatest martial artist-actors of all time, but also insight into Chinese culture, and the struggle to find a place within a racist America.

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Now this may seem like an even stranger suggestion than the others – but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sums up the spirit of late 1980’s, early 1990’s New York City perfectly. It has the gritty underbelly in the Footclan’s street gang headquarters, as well as the dangers presented by casual muggings, and late night central park crossings. Though New York City, today, is a much safer place the urban sprawl, and ability to be lost amongst millions of people is still ever present.

7. Ghost Busters 2
I know – right? But, bear with me for a moment. Just like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghost Busters II really sums up the feeling of New York City. This movie takes place in a far more upbeat, and positive New York City. Is there any movie that brings out feelings of the city quite like the moment when the Ghost Busters walk down the street in the Statue of Liberty? I think not.

8. Cool Runnings
As a Tourist it’s hard to see Jamaica as anything beyond a cruise port for the day, with the Dunn’s River Falls, and cheap alcohol. Even thoughts of Kingston often bring to mind crime and violence. The movie Cool Runnings helps to showcase the other side of Jamaica, where people simply go about their daily lives – free from tourists, and resorts, and all you can drink swim up bars. Being shown the human side of a country can help to inspire travel more than any other aspect. Ironically in doing so, you bring tourism to those areas which thrive without it.

9. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc
Though only there for a moment, the scene with Indiana Jones in the South American Jungles – ruins covered in vines, and overgrown paths, helps to create a strong desire for Peruvian travel. The four Indiana Jones movies all work to inspire a form of adventure travel, and though they may be somewhat campy, and action oriented I’m sure they’ve inspired travellers the world over.

10. King Kong (2005)
Where others might reference Lord of the Rings for their favourite movie that Showcases New Zealand, I feel that King Kong does the much better job. All throughout the island, viewers marvel at the landscapes that appear before them. Sure the endless fields and grassy hills of Lord of the Rings are lovely, but they are nothing when compared to the harsher environments presented within King Kong.

Wrap Up
So there you have my top 10 Travel Inspiring Movies. They may seem a little odd, or off kilter, but if you’ve seen them, you know what I mean – and if you’ve not seen them then by all means head out to your local video rental store and pick them up. In no time you’ll be itching to get back on the road, and view the world from an entirely new perspective.

Feel Free to post your own favourite movies in the comments below.

Bonus: Favourite Travel Inspiring Television Show

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Nothing has inspired me quite like Scott Wilson, Justin Lukach, and Andre Dupius’ travels around the world. It was their first season – taking one year out of their lives to travel the world – that gave me the push I needed to get out there myself. Please visit their website, pick up their dvds, and let them inspire you as well.


  1. It is a very different list! I've seen all the movies you've listed here, but haven't really thought them to be "travel-inspiring" movies (except maybe for Lost in Translation and Indiana Jones). But like you said, you are a different person. Thanks for sharing. These were all interesting movies!

  2. I love that you put TMNT on the list - that's pretty awesome and I do agree - completely showcases NY in the 80s :-)

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  4. Interesting perspective in looking at travelling via movies. Personally I like Lost in Translation and it fits perfectly with your theme in that it showcases the cultural differences between Bill Murray and the Japanese..

    Another movie i can think of is Babel which could be an addition to your collection


  5. interesting! Cool running is definately one of the coolest. Never had chacn to visit there though. But someday! :D
    Nice article indeed!



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