By Andrés Muñoz
Travelling has always been a big part of my identity. It has shaped who I am and how I see and react to whatever life throws at me. When forced to lock myself up during the pandemic, I suffered some serious travel cravings!
What better way to explore exotic destinations than to check out the best travel movies out there while stuck at home? Here are five of my favorite stories that will motivate you to start your own journey.
The Way hikes its way into your soul. It’s the tale of a man whose son dies early in the Camino De Santiago in Spain, so he decides to complete the pilgrimage in his stead. With Martin Sheen as the father, the movie shows us his journey and the characters he meets along the way while showing us wonderful vistas of the Spanish countryside.
Suggested to be a documentary, the film’s director and Sheen’s son, Emilio Estevez, thought an independent production would show the real magic behind the Camino. This heartfelt story will surely spur you to hit the road.
Into The Wild
If solo travelling is more your thing, then Into The Wild will shake you to the core. Emile Hirsch stars as Christopher McCandless, an American adventurer. After graduating from college, McCandless donates his college savings and wanders across the United States. His travels take him through California, South Dakota, all the way to the inhospitable region known as the Alaskan Bush. The movie won a Golden Globe with Eddie Vedder’s song Guaranteed in 2008.
Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite forever orbiting
I know all the rules but the rules did not know me
The Motorcycle Diaries
Enough walking around, let’s road trip across Latin America in The Motorcycle Diaries. This 2004 classic tells the story of a young and pre-revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado. The duo drove across South America, discovering the people and stories that would motivate Guevara into the armed political struggle he is famous for.
Director Walter Salles tells a heartfelt story, and Mexican star Gael García Bernal knocks it out of the park. In addition, the film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song with Jorge Drexler’s Al Otro Lado Del Río.
Lost in Translation
A single city has a plethora of stories to tell. Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation takes us on a journey of self-discovery with Tokyo, Japan as a fascinating backdrop.
The iconic Bill Murray stars as an actor who is hired to shoot a television commercial in Japan while having a midlife crisis. He meets Charlotte, a recently graduated woman, and together, they explore their feelings of loneliness and aimlessness.
One might even say that the third character in the story is the country Japan, as the two protagonists grapple with cultural shock and discovery throughout the film. This role launched Scarlett Johansson’s career and won Best Original Screenplay at the 2004 Academy Awards.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has become a cult classic for anyone who dreams about travelling the world. It stars Ben Stiller as a negative archivist for Life magazine who daydreams about interesting scenarios that contrast with his boring everyday life. As the magazine prepares for its last printed issue, Walter must retrieve a photo taken by famous photojournalist, Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn). His quest takes him to all sorts of places around the world, from Greenland to the Himalayas.
Bearing the motto “To see Life; to see the world,” Life was one of the greatest photography magazines in the twentieth century. As someone who grew up watching issues of Life magazine, the portrayal of the magazine’s swan song hits close to home, and is a heartfelt tribute to all the stories told inside their pages.
Honorable Mention: Midnight In Paris
While all the previous flicks take us to specific locations on the planet, I’d like to add an honorable, albeit surreal, mention to this list. In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson stars as Gil, a writer who wishes he belonged in the past. While walking at night through the streets of Paris, he travels back in time to the city’s 1920s artistic and cultural heyday. There he meets iconic historical characters like Ernest Hemingway, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and more. Gil’s trips back in time help him discover truths about himself, his relationships, and the way he sees the world.
As travel restrictions ease, we’ll all be able to embark once again on trips and adventures. Whether it is exploring a sprawling, vibrant metropolis or camping out in the middle of nowhere, travelling will always open your perspective. The hardest part is admitting that you are ready to take the adventure, so get planning and get out there!