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20 Travel Movies for COVID-Avoidance Cabin Fever

Close up of bowl of popcorn on counter
Close up of bowl of popcorn on counter

While #socialdistancing has us all (hopefully) home as much as possible, that leaves some of us busy trying to figure out, well, how to stay busy. And others trying to work out a new way to juggle your day job while being schoolteacher, family chef and more. For all this and any cancelled-vacation blues, hitting the pause button on travel and normal life doesn’t mean you can’t escape. Infuse some inspiration into the staycation with this list featuring some of our favorite travel movies.

But FIRST, hunker down and cozy up with this gear (and support a small business!):

  1. OUT OF AFRICA (1985)

Staring heavy-hitters Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, this timeless classic, set in 20th-century colonial Kenya, follows a Danish baroness/plantation owner’s passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter. Based on the autobiographical novel by Isak Dinesen, get swept up in the turns of the stunning scenery and this unexpected story.


2. EAT PRAY LOVE

Self-discovery through travel takes center stage in this popular film based on author Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times best-selling memoir. After a painful divorce, Elizabeth (played by the inimitable Julia Roberts) turns her woes in wanderlust as she embarks on a year-long journey to Italy, India and Indonesia.


3. P.S. I LOVE YOU

Following a tragedy, mysterious letters continue to arrive from a young widow’s late husband. Each one sets her on a task whether it’s conquering fears, letting loose, or finding love again, and the biggest of them all, a trip to her husband’s homeland of Ireland where the two first met and fell in love. This heartwarming flick will give you all the feels and, PS, it’ll leave you hankering for a trip to the Emerald Isle!


4. Tracks (2013)

In 1977 Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) set out to trek across Australia from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. This true story, based on her memoir, recants her nine-month, 1,700-mile journey with only four camels, her dog and the occasional National Geographic photographer (Adam Driver).


5. THE BUCKET LIST

We’re here for any movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Faced with their own mortality, two strangers-turned-friends travel the world as they check off an impressive list of must-dos and must-sees from flying over the North Pole to a lion safari in Tanzania. These two bring dynamic duo to a whole new level, and you’ll love every minute.  


6. AMÉLIE (2001)

Whimsy swirls in this heartfelt Parisian tale of imaginative waitress Amélie and her journey to help those around her. With stunning cinematography, watch Paris’ beauty unfold across Montmartre, cafes, the metro, the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur, and landscapes shot on one of the loveliest moped scenes you’ll ever see.


7. AWAY WE GO (2009)

A young couple expecting their first baby (John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph) road trip across the U.S. to find the right place to raise their family. This comedy-drama brings you along the ride for their assorted misadventures and reconnections with old friends and relatives that help them define the word home on their own terms and leaves you with a smile on your face.


8. UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN (2003)

Abruptly left by her husband, a woman’s friends send her on a tour of Italy to lift her spirits. While in Tuscany, fate points her towards a rundown villa which she purchases on a whim and dives into bringing it back to life. Somewhere between making new friends and a lot of pasta, the Italian countryside becomes the new love of her life.


9. PASSENGERS (2016) …throwing in one that’s “out there!”

Set in the year 2343, an ultra-luxurious spaceship is enroute to Homestead II, a new planet-turned-colony with 5,000 passengers aboard in induced hibernation for the 120-year voyage. But when two passengers wake up 90 years too early, their lives quickly become all about the journey rather than the destination. The pair try and make the best of their doomed situation until a major secret is revealed and suddenly it’s not just their lives at stake, but those of all passengers on board.  


10. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION (1983)

A comedic favorite that first introduced us to Clark Griswold and his quirky family! This beloved 1980’s John Hughes film offers a satirical take on the all-American road trip as we follow the family cross-country to Walley World, a California theme park. Annoying relatives, wrong directions and a lost wallet are just the tip of the iceberg, and certainly no match for Clark and his dad jokes.   


11. THE BEACH (2000)

A solo traveler in Thailand learns of a secret, secluded island rumored to be the ultimate paradise and sets out determined to find it. After a daring journey, he arrives to find clear blue waters, pristine white sand beaches, and a small group of dwellers who allow him stay as long as he keeps their secret. It’s everything he could dream of — or is it? He soon discovers that paradise comes at price, one that he’s not sure he’s willing to pay.


12. WILD (2014)

Overcome with grief after the loss of her mother, a woman in need of escape and clarity decides to hike the legendary Pacific Crest Trail, one of the world’s longest and most difficult trails. The kicker? She has no outdoor experience and is making the 1,100-mile trek alone. With only her backpack and strong will, she sets out to face her biggest challenge yet.


13. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011)

A struggling novelist finds inspiration in an unexpected place when his midnight walks through the streets of Paris somehow take him back in time to the city in the 1920s. Even more surprising are the people he meets and befriends when he finds himself among some of the centuries most beloved (and long since passed) writers.


14. The Way (2010)

American ophthalmologist, Dr. Tom Avery (Martin Sheen), travels to France after the death of his son on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), the Catholic pilgrimage route in Galicia, Spain. To honor his son, he decides to take the trek himself to profound impact in this powerful story.


15. UP (2009)

You don’t have to be kid to love this charming and surprisingly emotional animated film. Carl, an adventurer at heart, travels to South America along with his stowaway friend, the curious and delightfully innocent Russell, following the passing of his wife. Their travel vessel? Carl’s beloved home powered by hundreds of colorful balloons that carry them, you guessed it, up and away.


16. SIDEWAYS (2004)

California Wine Country is in for some trouble when a woe-is-me, snobbish writer brings his about-to-be-married best friend up for one last hoorah. One wants to party and the other wants to complain in this hilarious comedy where wine culture stars as one of the characters. And whatever you do, do not order Merlot.


17. THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2012)

British retirees (staring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson) show up to take residence in what they think will be a newly-restored property in India. What they discover is a less-than-advertised accommodation, but the surprising cultural immersion and camaraderie that manage to win their hearts in other unexpected ways.


18. PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES (1964)  

We love this 1960’s classic almost as much as we love Paris. A writer puts his bachelor lifestyle ahead of a looming deadline on a screenplay job. With two days to deliver, he hires a temp to be his typist… but he hasn’t written anything yet. He soon finds inspiration in his secretary, the spunky Gabrielle (Audrey Hepburn) and their budding romance becomes the muse for his screenplay.


19. SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997)

First, Brad Pitt. Second, the moving true story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountaineer setting out to conquer a Himalayan mountain in 1939. After getting captured, he escapes from a prison camp and sneaks into the holy Tibetan city of Lhasa to become the unlikely friend of the Dalai Lama. It’s a real tale of how travel transforms lives.


20. The Holiday … because we could all use some Christmas cheer!

Two women craving escape from their toxic relationships meet on a vacation home exchange site and swap lives and locales over the Christmas holiday. A high-strung entertainment exec leaves L.A. behind for the winter wonderland of the English countryside while a passive newspaper wedding columnist moves into her lavish home and finds friendship among her neighbors. This romantic comedy is a holiday movie we watch all year long!


Want even more? Check out Conde Naste Travelers list of The 50 Best Travel Movies of All Time. Otherwise, hunker down as you can and stay safe travel fans.

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