The Five Best Travel Films

Lacking inspiration to write today, my GF suggested I do a list. “Everybody loves a list”, she stated convincingly. This got me searching other people’s lists, maybe id find some ideas, the go-to being ‘1001 movies you must see before you die’. Hold up a sec, 1001 feature films. Let’s say that each is 100 minutes long, and you know those art house flicks are always longer, then (calculator needed) it would take 6mths of watching movies 9 hrs a day to get through somebody else’s list. That’s a J-O-B!! Keeping things simple, my list is only five items. Let the countdown begin!

The Five Best Travel Films, by nickisalwaysonholidays. 


5. Wim Wenders ‘Until the End of the World‘ (1991)

The ultimate chase around the world. The film highlights that no matter where you are, you are mostly stuck thinking about the images in your own head, and this was years before people got hooked on Instagram! The finale shot in the surreal landscape of the Bungle Bungle Ranges alone is enough to whet the lips of any traveler. The film has a killer cast, killer soundtrack but has been somewhat forgotten as it was a major flop at the box office. In 1991 people where paying to go see ‘Terminator 2‘ (yawn).


4. Jean-Pierre Jeunet Amelie‘ (2001)

OK, so not technically a travel film but it is set in one of the most sought out destinations on Earth. Love Paris, Lust Montmarte. I was lucky enough to stay in the 18th Arrondissement for a month a few years ago (blog alert), and initially thought wandering the set of Amelie would become naff-naff in an instant. Oh, was I wrong.  Champagne and a rug watching the sunset from the grassy slope of the Basilica of the Sacre-Couer with a woman you love, please. Get inspired. Watch the film (again), buy a plane ticket and remember to thank nickisalwaysonholidays.



3. Lars von Trier Europa/Zentropa‘ (1991)

This film ticks lots or travel boxes: train trips, working abroad, romance and, umm, werewolves. Set in post-World War 2 East Germany, Lars von Trier picks up all the tensions of cross cultural interactions. Jean-Marc Barr plays the protagonist, an American who exemplify’s the role of the idealistic outsider, a position a traveller often finds themselves in. Scenes are nearly entirely shot onboard a train where, Paul Theroux eloquently explained, ‘anything is possible: a great meal, a binge, an intrigue, and strange monologues framed like Russian short stories’. On the count of ten, you will be in Europa…


2. Bernardo Bertolucci The Sheltering Sky‘ (1990)

Bertolucci’s adaptation of the Paul Bowles masterpiece (‘Yes’, the book is better), captures so much of my love/hate relationship with travelling. From the jaw dropping scenery, set on the edge of the Sahara, to the boredom of yet another hotel room, the indifference of locals to a tourists needs and the pit falls of getting sick on the road, the film is entirely engrossing. Paul Bowles was the master back packer, even with a trolley of luggage. Supposedly Gertrude Stein suggested Bowles move to North Africa after shunning him from the click of artisans in 1920’s Paris, and so the adventures began. Watch this film and get sucked into the wanderlust of Port and Kit on their date with destiny.


1. Jim Jarmusch Night on Earth‘ (1991)

Shot on location throughout Los Angeles, Rome, Paris, New York, Helsinki, starring Beatrice Dalle, Winona Ryder, Roberto Benigni, with some drunken tales, a heart attack, a car crash or two and a dying priest, this film takes you to the other side of all the top spots on a bucket list. Each of the five short tales let you embark on different taxi journeys through the streets of the cities of the world. A reminder to us all that when you are travelling, the journey is often more exciting than the destination.




So there you are. Weird, three of my top five are from 1991. Now why is this??




8 thoughts on “The Five Best Travel Films”

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