The Motorcycle Diaries is an adaptation of a journal written by Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna when he was 23 years old. He and his friend, Alberto Granado are typical college students who, seeking fun and adventure before graduation, decide to travel across Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela in order to do their medical residency at a leper colony. Beginning as a buddy/road movie in which Ernesto and Alberto are looking for chicks, fun and adventure before they must grow up and have a more serious life. As is said in the film itself, it’s about “two lives running parallel for a while.” The two best friends start off with the same goals and aspirations, but by the time the film is over, it’s clear what each man’s destiny has become. I remember watching this during the age of VHS! BUY HERE.
As part of a job that he is promised, Xavier, an economics student in his twenties, signs on to a European exchange program in order to gain working knowledge of the Spanish language. Promising that they’ll remain close, he says farewell to his loving girlfriend, then heads to Barcelona. Following his arrival, Xavier is soon thrust into a cultural melting pot when he moves into an apartment full of international students. An Italian, an English girl, a boy from Denmark, a young girl from Belgium, a German and a girl from Tarragona all join him in a series of adventures that serve as an initiation to life. Don’t forget to download subtitles! I actually have this movie saved on my desktop right now. BUY HERE.
One of two films. Before Sunrise is a romance between a young American and a French student. A chance encounter on the train incites intrigue, and Jesse provocatively suggests that Celine postpones her return to France and embarks instead on a spontaneous expedition to Vienna. In the course of their 14-hour relationship, the two share in their love for the unrehearsed and their appreciation for the unexpected as they explore in a powerful meeting of hearts and minds. BUY HERE.
The second film is far less popular than the first. It was released 10 years later, and received less press. Jesse, a writer from the US, and Celine, a Frenchwoman working for an environment protection organization, acquainted nine years ago on the train from Budapest to Vienna, meet again when Jesse arrives in Paris for a reading of his new book. As they have only a few hours until his plane leaves, they stroll through Paris, talking about their experiences, views and whether they still love each other, although Jesse is already married with a kid. I should also add that I love this song, in the movie. I actually had to study these two movies in a film class, which I rather enjoyed. I had already seen the first film, prior to the project. BUY HERE.
I think I preferred the book to the movie, although the movie has its own charms. Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having – a husband, a house, a successful career – yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. BUY HERE.
Based on a true story, and the book. After graduating from University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, changed his name to Alexander Supertramp, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Supertramp encounters a series of characters who shape his life. Some say that this doesn’t qualify as a travel movie. The fact that he is running away from most of the things that make up travel; human interaction, culture, worldly experiences, etc., make some people question the theme. But to put it simply, he is traveling, and he has a great deal of insight into the World. BUY HERE.
With the running of the bulls at Pamplona in full swing, a young American encounters a string of people who encourage him to rethink his future: Does he want to return home for the promise of a fast-track career, or is he cut out for a different life? I own this one on DVD, personally. It’s one of those travel movies that you can always come back to, every once in awhile. BUY HERE.
8. Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amélie)
Amélie is a shy waitress in a Montmartre café. After returning a long-lost childhood treasure to a former occupant of her apartment, and seeing the effect it has on him, she decides to set out on a mission to make others happy and in the meantime pursues a quirky guy who collects discarded photo booth pictures. A Classic! BUY HERE.
9. A Good Year
I’ve never seen this movie without a glass of wine in my hand. After years of no contact with his Uncle Henry, London banker and bond trader Max Skinner learns that Henry has died intestate, so Max inherits a château and vineyard in Provence. Max spent part of his childhood there, learning maxims and how to win and lose, and honing his killer instinct (at chess, which serves him well in finance). Max goes to France intent on selling the property. He spends a few days there, getting the property ready to show. Memories, a beautiful woman, and a young American who says she’s Henry’s illegitimate daughter interrupt his plans. Did Max the boy know things that Max the man has forgotten? BUY HERE.
10. The Darjeeling Limited
A year after the accidental death of their father, three drug-addicted brothers — each suffering from depression – meet for a train trip across India. Francis, the eldest, has organized it. The brothers argue, sulk, resent each other, and fight. The youngest, Jack, estranged from his girlfriend, is attracted to one of the train’s attendants. Peter has left his pregnant wife at home, and he buys a venomous snake. After a few days, Francis discloses their surprising and disconcerting destination. Amid foreign surroundings, can the brothers sort out their differences? A funeral, a meditation, a hilltop ritual, and the Bengal Lancer figure in the reconciliation. BUY HERE.
When Scotty’s German online pen pal suggests they meet, he initially freaks out. But then he discovers that she’s gorgeous, and heads out with three friends after graduation to meet her. As they travel across Europe, the four friends have comical misadventures. BUY HERE.
12. The Namesake
In 1977, Ashima, a young Bengali woman, accepts Ashoke’s marriage proposal. He’s a student living abroad, so after the marriage she accompanies him to New York, where their temporary residence becomes permanent. We see her navigate and adapt to this alien land. They name their son Nikhil, with the pet name of Gogol, after Ashoke’s favorite writer. We watch Gogol grow up American with roots he only begins to appreciate when he visits India in his 20s. A family death hastens his coming to terms with his name (and his roots) and Ashima’s determination of where she will live once she has a choice. I’ve seen this a few times now. I really enjoy the frequent change in setting, be it in the USA or India. BUY HERE.
13. Vicky Christina Barcelona
Conventional Vicky, who is engaged to Doug, travels to Barcelona to spend her summer holidays at the home of their parent’s friends, Judy and Mark Nash, with her unconventional and open-minded friend, Cristina. While in a restaurant, the divorced painter Juan Antonio Gonzalo flirts and invites them to travel to Oviedo with him, and also to go to bed with him. The reluctant Vicky does not accept the invitation but Cristina agrees. Once in Oviedo, Cristina develops an ulcer so Vicky goes sightseeing alone with Juan Antonio. Vicky eventually falls in love with Juan Antonio and has sex with him. However, back in Barcelona, she does not say anything to her friend and Cristina moves into Juan Antonio’s house, while Vicky marries Doug. When the unstable former wife of Juan Antonio, Maria Elena, overdoses, the painter brings her to his house and their troubled relationship harmonizes with the presence of Cristina. I must have watched this five times before I left for Barcelona, and another five time after returning. Oh, how I miss Barcelona. BUY HERE.
14. Y Tu Mamá También
Abandoned by their girlfriends for the summer, teenagers Tenoch and Julio meet the older Luisa at a wedding. Trying to be impressive, the friends tell Luisa they are headed on a road trip to a beautiful, secret beach called Boca del Cielo. Intrigued with their story and desperate to escape, Luisa asks if she can join them on their trip. Soon the three are headed out of Mexico City, making their way toward the fictional destination. Along the way, seduction, argument and the contrast of the trio against the harsh realities of the surrounding poverty ensue. Warning–there is a bit of a shocking, turning point in this film. BUY HERE.
15. Seven Years in Tibet
After the death of 11 climbers, Austrian Heinrich Harrer decides to add glory to his country and to the German pride by climbing Nanga Parbat in British India, and leaves his expectant wife behind. Egoist and a loner, he does not get along with others on his team – but must bend to their wishes after bad weather threatens them. Then WWII breaks out, they are arrested and lodged in Dehra Dun’s P.O.W. Camp. He attempts to break out in vain several times, but finally does succeed along with Peter Aufschnaiter, and end up in the holy city of Lhasa – a place banned to foreigners. They are provided food and shelter, and Peter ends up marrying a tailor, Pema Lhaki, while Heinrich befriends the Dalai Lama. He meets regularly to satiate the child’s curiosity about the world, including Jack the Ripper and ‘yellow hair'; in return he is exposed to teachings of Lord Buddha and even constructs a movie theater, while getting news of the end of the war; his divorce; and his son’s refusal to communicate. But nothing will prepare him for the devastation about to descend when Communist China decides to attack, leading to the deaths of over 1 million Tibetans, destruction of over 6000 monasteries, and betrayal from their very own people. BUY HERE.
16. City of God
Brazil, 1960’s, City of God. The Tender Trio robs motels and gas trucks. Younger kids watch and learn well…too well. 1970’s: Li’l Zé has prospered very well and owns the city. He causes violence and fear as he wipes out rival gangs without mercy. His best friend Bené is the only one to keep him on the good side of sanity. Rocket has watched these two gain power for years, and he wants no part of it. Yet he keeps getting swept up in the madness. All he wants to do is take pictures. 1980’s: Things are out of control between the last two remaining gangs…will it ever end? Welcome to the City of God. BUY HERE.
17. Slumdog Millionaire
In Mumbai, the eighteen year-old orphan from the slums Jamal Malik is tortured by the policemen in a precinct accused of cheating a game show. Jamal, who has no education and works in a call center serving tea, is close to wining twenty million rupees in the show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? hosted by Prem Kumar, giving precise answers to the questions and raising suspicion of fraud. The police inspector shows the videotape and after each question, Jamal tells parts of his childhood with his brother Salim, his crush for Latika and their fight to survive on the streets to justify each correct answer, guided by his common sense and past experience, and prove his innocence. As with a number of films on this list, this one is not exactly about the act of traveling, but a good travel movie involves culture and insight to other countries. BUY HERE.
18. One Week
Out of the blue, Ben learns he has stage IV cancer; survival, with treatment, is 10 percent. So this risk-averse, slow-to-act, quiet man buys a used motorcycle, says goodbye to Samantha, his baffled fiancée, and heads west from Toronto. He imagines it’s a quest for Grumps, a mythical figure from his childhood; he takes digital photos of various “world’s largest” roadside attractions; he chats with strangers, including two women; his bike slips on a dead skunk on the highway. Calls to Samantha meet with pleading that he return for treatment and anger that he won’t. He doesn’t want to be a patient yet. But, will he make discoveries, and what about Grumps? What’s important? BUY HERE.
19. Under The Tuscan Sun
After Frances’s seemingly happy San Francisco marriage ends abruptly, she goes into a funk. Urged by her friends to move on, she joins a bus tour of Tuscany where, on the spur of the moment, she buys a crumbling villa. She assembles a crew of oddballs and immigrants to repair the house; over the next year, as they work, she welcomes one of her New York friends who’s pregnant and at loose ends, and she seeks love, first (tenuously) with her married real estate agent, then with a charming stranger. Although life gets in the way of love, Frances’s wishes come true in unexpected ways, and there’s always the Tuscan sun. BUY HERE.
20. The Beach
Garland’s novel centers on a young nicotine-addicted traveler named Richard, an avid pop-culture buff with a particular love for video games and Vietnam War movies. While at a hotel in Bangkok, he finds a map left by his strange, whacked-out neighbor, who just committed suicide. The map supposedly leads to a legendary island paradise where some other wayward souls have settled. How could I make a list of Travel movies without including The Beach? BUY HERE.
21. Up in the Air
Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. BUY HERE.
Bob Harris is an American film actor, far past his prime. He visits Tokyo to appear in commercials, and he meets Charlotte, the young wife of a visiting photographer. Bored and weary, Bob and Charlotte make ideal if improbable traveling companions. Charlotte is looking for “her place in life,” and Bob is tolerating a mediocre stateside marriage. Both separately and together, they live the experience of the American in Tokyo. Bob and Charlotte suffer both confusion and hilarity due to the cultural and language differences between themselves and the Japanese. As the relationship between Bob and Charlotte deepens, they come to the realization that their visits to Japan, and one another, must soon end. Or must they? BUY HERE.
23. Brokedown Palace
Alice and Darlene, best friends, decide to take a trip to Thailand to celebrate high-school graduation. While there, they are befriended by charming Australian rogue Nick Parks. Nick convinces them to take a weekend side trip to Hong Kong, but at the airport, they are busted for smuggling drugs. They are convicted in a show trial and sentenced to 33 years; in desperation, they contact Yankee Hank, an American lawyer based in Thailand who has been reported to be helpful if you’ve got the cash. BUY HERE.
24. National Lampoon’s Vacation Movies
Vacation is a series of comedy films mostly sponsored by National Lampoon. The series primarily features the misadventures of the Griswold family whose attempts to enjoy vacations and holidays are plagued with continual disasters and strangely ridiculous predicaments. The Series includes Vacation, European Vacation, Christmas Vacation, Vegas Vacation, Christmas Vacation 2, and Hotel Hell Vacation. Classics! BUY HERE.
25. The Kite Runner
In the 70’s in Afghanistan, the Pushtun boy Amir and the Hazara boy Hassan, who is his loyal friend and son of their Hazara servant Ali, are raised together in Amir’s father house, playing and kitting on the streets of a peaceful Kabul. Amir feels that his wise and good father Baba blames him for the death of his mother in the delivery, and also that his father loves and prefers Hassan to him. In return, Amir feels a great respect for his father’s best friend Rahim Khan, who supports his intention to become a writer. After Amir winning a competition of kitting, Hassan runs to bring a kite to Amir, but he is beaten and raped by the brutal Assef in an empty street to protect Amir’s kite; the coward Amir witness the assault but does not help the loyal Hassam. On the day after his birthday party, Amir hides his new watch in Hassam’s bed to frame the boy as a thief and force his father to fire Ali, releasing his conscience from recalling his cowardice and betrayal. In 1979, the Russians invade Afghanistan and Baba and Amir escape to Pakistan. In 1988, they have a simple life in Fremont, California, when Amir graduates in a public college for the pride and joy of Baba. Later Amir meets his countrywoman Soraya and they get married. In 2000, after the death of Baba, Amir is a famous novelist and receives a phone call from the terminal Rahim Khan, who discloses secrets about his family, forcing Amir to return to Peshawar, in Pakistan, in a journey of redemption. BUY HERE.
4 interlocking stories all connected by a single gun all converge at the end and reveal a complex and tragic story of the lives of humanity around the world and how we truly aren’t all that different. In Morocco, a troubled married couple are on vacation trying to work out their differences. Meanwhile, a Moroccan herder buys a rifle for his sons so they can keep the jackals away from his herd. A girl in Japan dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, the emotional distance of her father, her own self-consciousness, and a disability among many other issues, deals with modern life in the enormous metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. Then, on the opposite side of the world the married couple’s Mexican nanny takes the couple’s 2 children with her to her son’s wedding in Mexico, only to come into trouble on the return trip. Combined, it provides a powerful story and an equally powerful looking glass into the lives of seemingly random people around the world and it shows just how connected we really are. BUY HERE.
27. The Bucket List
Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find joy in life. BUY HERE.
28. The Holiday
In London, Iris Simpkins write a wedding column in a newspaper and has an unrequited love for her colleague Jasper Bloom. Nearby Christmas, she is informed that Jasper is engaged and will marry another colleague, and her life turns head over heels. In Los Angeles, the movie-trailers maker Amanda Woods has just broken with her unfaithful boyfriend Ethan and wants to forget him. Amanda access a house exchange website, and impulsively swaps her mansion for Iris’ cottage in Surrey for the holiday along the next two weeks. While in Surrey, Amanda meets Iris’ brother and book editor Graham and they fall in love for each other. Meanwhile Iris meet her next door neighbor, the ninety year old screenplay writer Arthur, who helps her to retrieve her self-esteem, and the film composer Miles, and they fall in love for each other. BUY HERE.
29. Blood Diamond
A story following Archer, a man tortured by his roots. With a strong survival instinct, he has made himself a key player in the business of conflict diamonds. Political unrest is rampant in Sierra Leone as people fight tooth for tooth. Upon meeting Solomon, and the beautiful Maddy, Archer’s life changes forever as he is given a chance to make peace with the war around him. BUY HERE.
30. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Okay, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this one. It doesn’t fall into my usual taste in movies, but it certainly involves a lot of travel. The movie is based on the young adult book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Anne Brashares. As four best friends spend their first summer apart from one another, they share a magical pair of jeans. Despite being of various shapes and sizes, each one of them fits perfectly into the pants. To keep in touch they pass these pants to each other as well as the adventures they are going through while apart. BUY HERE.