This time of year always makes me more restless than I usually am. I’m usually pretty good about embracing all four seasons and finding beauty in the winter; but the short days, bitter cold, and overall bleak landscape of a gray January day can make me a little stir crazy. I find myself looking up flights way more frequently than usual…
If you’re feeling like me, but could also use that extra “push” to actually follow through with some travel plans, below are nine movies that will inspire you to explore. I also threw in one movie that will definitely remind you of the chaos of travel, but sometimes that’s the fun of it…
Lost In Translation
A great movie about two Americans abroad in Japan who are at different chapters in their lives, but are both at a crossroads. Sofia Coppola’s movie both showcases the beauty and vibrant culture of Japan, while also highlighting the feel of culture shock one experiences when they are in a strange and foreign place. The movie also shows how travel throws you into situations where amazing friendships and bonds can be formed from the most unlikely people, no matter how illogical it may seem.
A sort of love story like this only seems like it would be plausible in Paris, yeah? Amélie is a shy, young adult who finds an older man’s long forgotten treasure box filled with childhood relics. This prompts Amélie to track down the man and return it to him, anonymously. Along the way, Amélie meets the love of her life, but is too timid and shy to come forward and reveal her true self. It’s a great story about love and taking risks in life, but the whimsical cinematography and the beautiful (and very French) score composed by Yann Tiersen will probably send you over the edge and make you want to look up one-way flights to Paris…
The Darjeeling Limited
A movie about three estranged brothers who embark an a spiritual journey through India while they are still reeling from their father’s death. Wes Anderson seamlessly displays the many senses of India; from the chaotic hustle and bustle of the large cities, to the natural beauty of rural villages. Most of the film’s score features samples from classic Bollywood movies, which helps sets the tone and romanticism of the country.
See also: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Midnight in Paris
Is there any director who can romanticize a city like Woody Allen? I don’t think so. Woody Allen showcases everything that is beautiful about the magical city of Paris. In the movie, a young screenwriter is magically transported to Paris in the 1920s where he meets his literary heroes. While there, he meets a beautiful Parisian woman who longs to visit Paris in the 1890s, where she believes is when Paris must have been its most vibrant. The movie does a great job at reminding people that while it’s okay to fantasize and romanticize about a certain time and/or place, we must not forget to live in the moment and appreciate what we have.
See also: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Little Miss Sunshine
A lovely movie about a dysfunctional family who take a road trip out west so the youngest member can compete in a beauty pageant. The journey to the pageant proves to be difficult, as the family deals with everything from a broken down vehicle, a death, and a full blown meltdown. It’s a nice metaphor about how sometimes it’s more about the journey, not the destination. The movie also has breathtaking visuals of the American west that will tempt anyone to hop in their car and head out for the horizon.
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Motorcycle Diaries is the film adaption of Che Guevara’s tale of taking a road trip through South America with his best friend. It was on this journey that he noticed injustices throughout the countries he visited, specifically with the indigenous populations. It’s an interesting look at such a well known figure right before he became the revolutionary he is known for today. Not only will this movie give you a glimpse into South America and a taste of the freedom that only a road trip via motorcycle could give you, but it also conveys how certain trips become so much more than fun adventures; sometimes the experience of these journeys stay with you for a long time and shape the rest of your future.
Another great Woody Allen film that showcases his love for Manhattan. The story revolves around a neurotic writer played by no other than Woody Allen himself, and his complicated relationships with women and his friends. While the characters are compelling by themselves, the story being set in Manhattan makes the NYC borough play a major role in the movie itself. Filmed in black and white with a musical score from George Gershwin, the movie fantastically portrays all of Manhattan’s grit and beauty. There really is no place quite like New York, and I think anyone could appreciate this movie, whether you’re a local, tourist, or someone who has still yet to check off New York City off their list of places to visit.
Fun fact: Three of Gershwin’s compositions that are featured in this movie were performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic! (The rest were performed by the New York Philharmonic, naturally.)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
If only more people were as adventurous as Ferris! Ferris Bueller decides one day to ditch school and head out for a day trip to Chicago, just because. He takes his willing girlfriend and apprehensive best friend along for the ride and they all have the time of their lives while experiencing all the great things Chicago has to offer.
The movie not only highlights the great city of Chicago, but Ferris’s spirit is something I think all travelers can relate to. Sure, not all of us might have an amazing city like Chicago as our backyard, but that shouldn’t deter you from taking spontaneous adventures for absolutely no reason at all other than to just live life to its fullest.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Okay, so maybe this movie could also make a list titled “Movies that will make you NOT want to travel”, but hear me out! Regardless of your travel experience or where you are traveling, you are always bound to run into some snags and downright terrible travel woes. It just goes with the territory. Whether it’s a missed flight, being pick-pocketed, being stranded somewhere, it happens to the best of us at some point or another. Sure, at the moment it’s terrible and awful and you are probably experiencing a whirlwind of emotions that certainly does not include happiness, BUT, who doesn’t love a good travel horror story after it’s all said and done?
Once everything is sorted out and fixed (and usually everything always ends up okay in the end!), we all love gathering around and laughing at our misfortunes at the end of the day. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles revels in travel snafus, which is partly why it’s such a hilarious movie; because we can all relate and appreciate it.
Damn you, Disney/Pixar. They always know how to make me cry. This adorable animated film is about an old widower named Carl who sets out for adventure to South America, to honor of his late wife, Ellie, who had always dreamed of going. Carl isn’t the exploring type, but his love for his wife inspires him to honor her adventurous spirit and fulfill her life-long dream. One of the best (and emotional) scenes is when Carl flips through Ellie’s scrapbook and feels dejected and full of shame because he feels as though he let Ellie down because she never made it to South America. However, he discovers Ellie had filled her scrapbook full of her biggest and exciting journey of her entire life; her marriage to Carl. It’s a sweet reminder that things don’t always turn out the way we imagine or plan them to be, but that doesn’t mean your life can’t be full of excitement and fulfillment. It also shows that it’s never too late to start a new chapter in your life and explore the world around you.
So what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!