Movies are a great way to inspire, motivate and bring to light unique places in the world…
Whilst the Oscar nominations have started to flood in, I’ve created our very own nominations of the best films to watch before you travel the world on your gap year.
From adventures across a continent to documentaries that explore the lives of travellers on nine different continents, these movies are guaranteed to provide wanderlust, excitement, tips for great ways to travel and prepare you for what you may come across during your travels.
#10 The Beach
No list of travel films would be complete without a mention of this Leonardo DiCaprio classic. Not only does it offer a young DiCaprio who spends a good 80% of the film topless it provides gorgeous panoramic shots of Thailand.
DiCaprio’s character Richard is a young backpacker who ventures to Thailand and starts his search to find the idyllic, allusive, legendary beach that has not been contaminated with tourism and instead is home to a small community of international backpackers.
Whilst it is somewhat over used in travel references it is guaranteed to leave you wanting to head out and look for Daffy in Thailand.
#9 The Bucket List
This is definitely one for providing that push that you need to take the plunge and head out on a trip of a lifetime. If Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) and Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) can head out on the road trip of their lives at the grand old age of 80 and suffering cancer, then what is stopping you?
Based around a bucket list of things these two men want to see and do before they die, this film will give you great inspiration for travelling plans and have you in stitches of laughter. It showcases the adventures that can be had when you head out to explore and live your dreams.
#8 A Map for Saturday
For those of you that are more interested in real-life stories and not the wild imaginations of Danny Boyle and Sofia Coppola, this documentary will provide some pearls of wisdom from fellow travellers.
It reveals the world of long-term solo travel through stories of travellers across 9 continents. If you’re considering heading out on a long-term trip, then this is definitely a great starting point.
#7 Before Sunrise
Dreaming of that summer romance? Wondering what a travel fling can lead to? Well in true Hollywood fashion this isn’t necessarily the story of all travel loves but it provides a great insight into the emotions and relationships you can encounter when travelling abroad.
This thought-provoking and beautifully filmed movie provides a romantic look at modern love through a couple that meet on a train in Europe. It will have you booking that inter-railing trip within minutes or act to heighten that excitement for an upcoming adventure.
Are you headed off on a solo trip, you’re hoping to find yourself and come back with a wealth of experiences and stories to share with everyone. This film is the one to give you a confidence boost and inspire you to follow your heart.
It follows the very personal journey of Robyn Davidson who travels across the Australian desert. It documents the trials and tribulations that Robyn encounters and is a truly beautiful story coupled with stunning filming of the Australian Outback.
The cinematography is something of a marvel in this 2-hour feature, Australia has never quite looked as appealing as it does in these shots.
#5 Lost in Translation
Another classic to add to our collection. Lost in Translation follows the story of a faded movie star and a neglected young woman in Japan who form an unlikely bond.
This movie throws you into Japan from the perspective of someone who knows nothing of its ways. It grapples with the struggles of not understanding a language, culture and area. It provides a great watch if you are headed to a country that is extremely different. It will be a great guide to some of the emotions and difficulties you will likely encounter.
#4 The Endless Summer
Another documentary I thought worth including in our selection of films. It is a true surfer movie and if there is anything that is guaranteed to make you want to travel and explore, it’s watching two “surfer dudes” explore the word looking for the best waves around.
Not only will it leave you longing for the ocean but the colourful local characters they meet along the way will give you a great idea of who to expect to encounter on your travels and showing you how varied life is on the road.
So here are the final three – the best three to give you confidence, inspiration and excitement for all that travelling the world has to offer!
Similarly to Tracks it helps to inspire you to leave the comforts of your home behind and head out on an adventure that will truly challenge you to the core. After reading the book my top visited websites were all to do with challenges and how I could trek the PCT.
I guarantee you’ll be fired up and ready to go after watching this breath-taking story. If you want to head out on a challenge why not try volunteering for 10 weeks in a country so distant from your own you’ll feel like you’ve landed on the moon – in a good way!
#2 The Motorcycle Diaries
If you haven’t already watched this, then shame on you! A brilliant film that is truly an ode to South America. Within the first half an hour you’re guaranteed to have fallen in love with the continent. The cinematography is stunning and is a true testament to the continent and the skill of the cameramen!
The film explores a motorcycle trip taken by Che Guevara, as a young man, and his best friend from Buenos Aires in Argentina all the way up to Venezuela. The acting is truly fantastic and it’s a pleasure to watch.
Prepared to be left feeling pumped and ready for a South American adventure. Why not get started…?
#1 Into the Wild
Probably one of my all time favourite movies! This travelogue captures the beauty of youth, nature, human connection and adventure. It will leave you speechless and in awe of the confidence and sheer bravery of the young man that sets out to leave all modern conveniences behind and spend months living off the land in Alaska.
Whilst it may not leave you with a yearning to head to Alaska for months on end it will certainly inspire you to travel and move away from the dependence on a technology-led society.
The goals that protagonist Chris McCandless aims for are somewhat idealistic but none the less can in a small way be incorporated into our style of travelling or daily life.
And That’s a Wrap
So there we have it – ten films that all are guaranteed to get you excited for your next trip or make you want to book one straight away! Do you have a favourite travel film? Or have you seen one of the above and have something to add for your fellow travellers? Let us know in the comments below.
Watched these and can’t wait to get abroad? Then download our comprehensive (and completely free) gap year advice guide The Gap Adventure Blueprint, which contains several chapters that will help you get your head around all the options and offer advice on how to raise funds, plus much more.