Not many would categorize me as a movie buff, but I do love watching movies. To be honest, I adore watching Hollywood travel movies. To be honest, these English travel movies do not take a toll on my brain.
Having said that movies have inspired me, in a lot many ways. Somehow the wander bug in me has occasionally been tickled by movies that were themed on travel.
There have been so many Hollywood movies whose script involved around travel but here is a list of 12 Hollywood movies that have been backdropped on travel. And I am sure, this list of travel movies will inspire everyone to be a wanderlust. Do bookmark this article so that when you need some travel motivation, you can always come back for your dose.
12 Best Travel Movies in Hollywood
Director: Walter Salles
The Motorcycle Diaries is a biopic about the travel adventures involving a journey of 8,000 miles by Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado.
Later on, Ernesto Guevara became a revolutionary symbol and is popularly known as Che Guevara.
The movie, directed by Brazilian director Walter Salles and written by Puerto Rican scriptwriter Jose Rivera. This travel movie stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Sema, Mercedes Moran, and Mia Maestro.
The movie trailing a journey that lasts over 8 months covering 8,700 miles. It describes locations in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. It is said that shortly after the release of the movie, tour operators in those regions received a swell of inquiries for the destinations in The Motorcycle Diaries.
Some of the enterprising ones even came up with “Che Guevara” themed tours that allowed tourists to “follow the footsteps” of the great political icon.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Amélie is a French Romantic comedy casting Audrey Tautau in the title role. The major cinematography of this travel movie revolves around the meaningful locales in Paris. It is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Amélie missed the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival for some strange reasons; nevertheless, it was enthralling for the global audience. This travel movie won audience awards in Edinburgh, Toronto and Chicago Film festivals.
Amélie provides a visual itinerary suggestion to someone who has never visited Paris and is intending to do so. The movie through the eyes of the protagonists presents Paris in its totality. The lanes, lifestyle and charm of this scurry city is screened quite radiantly.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
This Hollywood production reminds us that the destination, although is critical, cannot supersede the journey.
Wild is a beautiful portrayal of a young woman’s journey of 1,000 miles. The protagonist is hiking solo along the Pacific Crest Trail in the United States of America.
The movie is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Gaby Hoffman.
Wild is a story of the prime character, Cheryl. She has, or rather feels that everything important in her life is a haze after her mother dies. Without any experience, she undertakes a hike of 1,000 miles requiring her to fight oddities of such a travel endeavour. In so many ways, the movie reminds us of how fortitude and strong will can motivate us to heal ourselves; especially in the event(s), when we lose our anchors. This movie is a hiker’s motivation, for a beginner as well as for those who temporary retirement.
Director: Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in the lead roles.
The story revolves around a run-down movie star (Bill Muray) and undervalued young married girl (Scarlett Johansson) in Tokyo. You juxtapose them, and a brilliant Hollywood travel movie is on the screen.
This is a movie where two characters, bound by different fates meet in a foreign land, Toky. They set forth to discover a land and culture so different from their own. The primary characters are unrelated to each other yet their circumstances place them in situations where both of them seek an outlet. Lost in Translation is set against a backdrop in Japan. It emits travel experiences to various sights and energy of Tokyo. It is surely mesmerizing for you to plan your next holiday to Japan.
Director: Peter Weir
The Way Back draws its inspiration from an escape journey by a Polish prisoner-of-war from the Soviet, “Gulag”.
A group of prisoners take a 4,000-mile foot journey from a Siberian prison camp in peak winter. The movie follows their journey across Mongolia and the Gobi Desert ending months later in India.
Peter Weir is the producer and director of this Hollywood travel movie. The cast includes Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, and Colin Farrell. The Way Back takes you through some alluring locales in snow-filled regions of Siberia, Lake Baikal, Gobi Desert, China, and India.
Although the movie itself evokes some debate on it being a completely fictitious journey and being loosely inspired by a book with a similar theme; nevertheless it satisfies our primary condition of being one of the best travel movies in Hollywood. The journey even though somewhat impossibly envisioned, sure does justice to the destinations mentioned.
Director: Danny Boyle
Directed by Danny Boyle, The Beach casts Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, and Virginie Ledoyen. This movie is based on a young American staying in a run-down traveller’s hostel in Bangkok. This Hollywood travel movie has all the perfect ingredients for an adventure-thriller.
The film opens with Leonardo DiCaprio toiling on the streets of Thailand. He faces several adventures to reach the most exotic & secluded island in the area.
It is said that authorities in Thailand had to briefly close down Maya Beach on Koh Phi Phi after the release of the movie.
Director: Rob Reiner
I find this Hollywood movie very inspiring and perhaps that is why I am going to devote a few additional sentences to it.
The Bucket List is the story of a billionaire and a blue-collared mechanic. They meet in a hospital: owned by the billionaire, both are diagnosed with lung cancer. For fun, the mechanic maintains a bucket list of things that he wants to do in his life. He quickly discards the list after acknowledging that he has less than a year to live. The billionaire convinces him to revisit his list and do everything that he wishes to.
The cast features two of the most successful actors in Hollywood, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The Bucket List by Rob Reiner is an inspiration to aspiring travellers to start their journeys sooner than later.
The globetrotting cancer patients kick off their bucket list. The start with skydiving and include travels across the world to check everything.
This adventure-packed Hollywood travel movie is one to watch.
While The Bucket List has the dark reality of cancer as the backdrop, it also finds the way to unite the main leads on common ground – travel.
Director: Gary Winick
The plot revolves around Sophie, an American girl and her fiance visiting Verona, Italy. Letter to Juliet is a simple Hollywood travel movie about finding solace in the Italian countryside.
Lo and behold! We have a Tuscan-flavour in the movies. Letters to Juliet by Gary Winick stars Amanda Seyfried as Sophie; with Christopher Egan and Gael Garcia Bernal playing pivotal supporting roles.
They say when you travel you find your true self, and occasionally your destiny. This is perhaps, exactly the movie portrays.
The cinematography encases unimaginably beautiful shots of the Italian countryside. A must-watch for all the Rom-Com lovers.
Director: Wes Anderson
The Darjeeling Limited is a comedy-drama Hollywood travel movie about three brothers. The film covers the lives and losses of the characters while on a train journey in India.
The film features Wes Anderson’s signature film-making styles: Pop-colours and symmetric frames. This travel film is perhaps the best on the list for a Cinema enthusiast. Besides, the movie stars Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman.
The plot revolves around the three brothers who are not much in contact with each other. However, they take a reunion train journey in India. The cinematography features some excellent shots of rural India and various Hindu temples. India, in the movie, is not treated as a tourist destination but rather as a backdrop. The impromptu adventures as a result of obscurities result in the brothers ending up in real India, with plenty of luggage.
Director: Dennis Hopper
Easy Rider is a road trip movie about two freewheeling motorcyclists from Los Angeles. The movie is old school Hollywood, categorizing motorcycles with bad boys.
Thus, the two motorcyclists get a huge amount of cash after selling cocaine which they smuggled from Mexico. Then, they stuff their cash into a plastic tube hidden inside the fuel tank of their motorcycle. From hereon, their road trip to New Orleans for the Mardi Grass festival begins.
Directed by Dennis Hopper, the movie casts Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Karen Black. Easy Rider soundtrack is a collector’s item with scores that includes the Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, and Steppenwolf. If you are fond of rock music, check out our post: 25 Best Soft Rock Songs
The inspiration is the journey undertaken on a motorcycle; and not the drugs & smuggling.
Director: Sean Penn
Into The Wild is perhaps one of the most popular Hollywood travel movies on this list. The film is a remarkable directorial genius from Sean Penn.
This adventure thriller is the story of every millennial. The main lead, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) lives in the wilderness and makes a perfect vacation. However, he soon realizes that being in isolation is convenient only for a while. Ultimately, when his sources run out, he understands that nature is harsh and uncaring.
But, when he wants to return to his family, he cannot. Thus, forcing him to stay in the wild. This is a beautiful portrayal of travel and solace which we find in nature. Nevertheless, we must return where we belong – home.
This adventure travel movie is cult-classic featuring some of the best acting performances.
Director: Ben Stiller
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an adventurous Hollywood travel movie. The film’s director is Ben Stiller who also plays the title character. This Hollywood adventure travel movie is the dream of every average middle-class man.
The plot revolves are Walter Mitty’s hunt for a photo negative. To acquire the photo negative, he tracks and follows in the footsteps of Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), a photojournalist. The photo negative is relatively important as it is going to the cover image of the last print issue of Life Magazine; before going 100% digital.
Walter Mitty’s adventures including several daredevil tasks such as jumping from a helicopter in the Atlantic Ocean; where he fights a shark. His travel ensues running from a volcanic eruption in Greenland, hiking the Himalayas, travelling to ungoverned Afghanistan seeking Sean O’Connell.
The film features a beautiful note when Walter Mitty asks Sean O’Connell to click an image of Snow Leopard in the Himalayas:
If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Watch this film to know whether Walter Mitty finds the photo negative or not; it is a Hollywood travel film full of adventures and unexpected encounters with nature.
These movies are arousals to travel. The moment you finish watching any of these movies, the travel bug will bite you. And the list, although separated by different plots and genres, is bound by a common thread – the experiences of a journey.
This list of best Hollywood travel movies is my opinion. Do let me know in the comments below about your favourite travel movies.
This is a guest post by Amitabh Sarma. He is a freelance writer, content creator, and a travel entrepreneur based out of Guwahati, Assam. The content featured on his website is impeccable. Please check it here: Bearded Traveling Soul