The 11 Best Movies & Documentaries for Wanderlust Inspiration

While traveling may be limited these days, experiencing exploration through someone else's eyes, creative lens, ideations, or perspective is absolutely the next best thing, and may we dare say, sometimes, better! Not only do such stories inform our knowledge of faraway places or times, they provide us with inspiration, infuse understanding, and hopefully, instill more empathy and curiosity of that which we may not know much about. In other moments, exploring through film is simply a wonderful act of escapism, that can send you on a journey in any direction of your choosing...from the comfort of your own sofa.

So relax and let us, for the next few minutes, reveal our favorite wanderlust journey explorations, so you may indulge in some true, quality, Netflix'n chill moments of your own. Queue the loungwear...

Here, we've curated a list of 11 movies inspiring travel and adventure through vivid storytelling, beautiful cinematography, and interesting characters. We hope you enjoy your wanderlust movie journey!

Travel Far and Wide with the Best Travel Films & Documentaries

1. Samsara

A Ron Fricke travel movie, more of an in-between travelogue and a documentary — Samsara was completed in 5 years throughout 25 countries. Released in 2011, the film’s content is stunning and extremely visual. Samsara is a once-in-a-decade or perhaps in-a-lifetime movie, and is seen by some to be a sort of guided meditation via film, exploring life and death as well as the different meanings of presence as we know it. Of all the films mentioned in this list, this is the most spiritually-driven movie, brining about deeper considerations of our place and time on this earth.

In concrete terms, Samsara is a sophisticated and unique travel around the world movie condensed into a tight 99-minute show. It weaves rich colors, captures their vividity and glamour, touching all those who watch it.

Our Verdict: One of the best ever made, this travel film can transport you to places that linger long even after they come to an end. Just watch it to experience it!

IMDB: 8.5
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, (Free)

2. Encounters at the End of the World

This is an amazing documentary based on travel and adventure, exploring the lives of scientists who leave home to study life in Antarctica. Released in 2007, the movie’s cold and blue atmospheric portrayal is captivated and thought provoking, as you gain incredible respect for those who risk their lives to study these far-flung places.

The movie is incredibly visually appealing and its strikingly surreal images provide a new perspective of the region. The director Werner Herzog did visit the McMurdo Station in Antarctica for this movie and endeavored to bring out what Antarctica has to offer in a real and authentic way.

Our Verdict: If you’ve ever been curious about Antartica and fancy a faraway trip without doing the actual leg-work, here’s your chance. If you’re a science buff, you’ll love this film even more. 

IMDB: 7.7
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, (Free)

3. Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love is one of those travel movies that touches on all the senses and emotions. Released in 2010, this movie is ideal for getting your dose of wanderlust satiated, as the main character travels from India, to Italy, and finally, Bali, with a wonderful mix of rich cultures, food, scenery and more. 

Eat Pray Love reflects upon the journey of Elizabeth Gilbert, who travels to explore life through changing perspectives. In seeking & experiencing her path, she encounters herself in different worlds and understand her true self a little more in each new location. 

Our Verdict: A lovely light, yet meaningful movie, meant for those who want to enjoy a picturesque escape with a multi-layered film and great cast. Lots of laughs, meaningful themes, and relatable quandaries. 

IMDB: 5.8
Available On: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Movies

4. Everest

Mountains have always been loved by many, but only a handful of brave hearts can dream about the Himalayas. Released in 2015, this movie revolves around the real-life story of a mountaineer and reflects upon the trip to Mount Everest as more than a physical journey. Chomolungma (Tibetan for Mt. Everest) remains the dream of every mountaineer — the highest place on Earth is never easy; it’s harsh and unforgiving, but nothing matches the satisfaction of feeling its essence.

Based on a true story, this film captures everything that an individual may face in attempting to reach the top. From physical to mental challenges, Everest provides a stark and honest look at what such a mountain demands. Throughout the film, you feel as if you are there, experiencing it all (but luckily just a pause button away from a climbing break). 

Our Verdict: Caught at home, you get a chance to understand why people wish to push boundaries and test their endurance and mental fortitude on this ultimate wanderlust expedition.

IMDB: 7.1
Available On: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Universal Pictures, HBO Max

5. Bucket List

Bucket List, in all honesty, is one of those excellent movies that sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise. Two terminal cancer patients have a fateful meeting when they decide to travel around the world. The movie captures the synergy of two lives when they decide to journey together away from a sedentary life they had previously lived. With laughter, sorrow, regret, and rebirth, this movie has all the components of a fun yet impactful story, told well through great acting and entertaining storyline. 

From its theme to the direction, Bucket List remains one of the best trip movies that can inspire you to travel and leave your comfort zone – to explore before it’s too late.

Our Verdict: A must-watch for every age, this film has a little of everything. While touching on serious subjects, it manages to keep an upbeat tone and heartwarming message, making it heard not to induce a little self reflection on what living your best life truly means. 

IMDB: 7.4
Available On: Amazon Prime Video (Can be bought from Vudu, iTunes Store, YouTube)

IMDB: 8.5
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, (Free)

6. The Way

This movie is about a grief stricken man’s trip from France to Spain via the “El Camino de Santiago”. A father who must journey to the site of his son’s death, the story follows the man on a geographic and spiritual journey on this pilgrimage, as he seeks to understand both himself and his son. The movie is both emotional and heartwarming – a movie that certainly stirs the soul.

Our Verdict: With an excellent cast and director, as well as a well-written story performed beautifully in vast landscapes, this film is certainly worth a watch. It will be one that sticks with you and perhaps inspires interest in the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage someday. 

IMDB: 7.4
Available On: Can be Rented/Bought from Vudu, Microsoft Store, YouTube

7. Hector and The Search for Happiness

Released in 2014, the movie is based on the pursuit of happiness from the perspective of a psychiatrist. As we find the main character not happy with his life, and not able to make his patients happy, he sets out to journey across the world in search of understanding happiness. In his quest to find the formula to true joy, he stumbles upon some unexpected answers, uncovering revelations he did not expect.

Our Verdict: As a question we all undoubtedly ask ourselves, this is a truly enjoyable movie that fuses travel with the ultimate questions around life and happiness. Is happiness a journey or a destination?

IMDB: 7.0
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu

8. Wild

Released in 2014, Wild is a biographical adventure drama that follows a woman’s journey along the Pacific Crest Trail as she starts a new life following divorce. She moves through many sunsets, traverses difficult terrain, and challenges herself both mentally and physically, all alone. From midnights and early mornings, covering a journey of 1100 miles from Minnesota, Wild is about self-healing and discovering oneself in the process of deep emotional sorrow and uncertainty. While slow-paced and quite rhythmic, as hiking often turns out to be, the movie ebbs and flows beautifully, telling a vivid and compassionate tale.

Our Verdict: This is a wonderful movie for those who appreciate films that bring common day struggles into perspective. Every person is on their own journey filled with ups and down – it can be quite comforting to not feel alone in that through film, as we see others face challenges and deal with them in different ways. 

IMDB: 7.1
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, iTunes Store

9. Under the Tuscan Sun

When a writer gets divorced, suddenly, and begrudging takes a trip to Italy with a friend in an effort to set aside her sadness, she discovers a run down Tuscan Villa and impulsively decides to buy and restore the property. Most of the film takes place in the small town of Cortona, which is especially charming and picturesque. Through her ups and downs, she discovers a new, happier life amongst the rolling Italian hills and olive trees. 

Our Verdict: This film emanates the warmth of the Tuscan countryside, and is a great choice for an uplifting tale that makes you feel you are actually there. It’s quite an enjoyable movie to relax and loose yourself in. 

IMDB: 6.8
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, Buying option available on YouTube and Google Play Movies

10. Free Solo

A travel documentary steeped in the ritual and sport of rock climbing, Free Solo takes you through a stunning journey of personal challenge and triumph. Attempting to climb to the top of El Capita’s 900-meter vertical rock as the first person ever to do so without ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment. This style of climbing forces Alex Honnold to rely entirely on his own individual strength and skill.

Released in 2018, it is an adventure movie that doesn’t take you far from one location; however, it feels more adventuresome than most travel documentaries. 

Our Verdict: A must-watch for those with a passion for adventures and sports. The film is quite nail-biting as you root for Alex to reach the top, without injuring himself in the process. 

IMDB: 8.2
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, Starz, Buying option available on YouTube, and Google Play Movies

11. Tracks

We’ve saved a beautiful watch for the last. This 2013 film is one of the best travel movies, loosely based on the true-life story of an Australian female trekker.
In the movie, the female protagonist’s desire to stay alone takes her down the 2000 Km trekking trail across the desert. She begins her trekking at Alice Springs and moves down to the Indian Ocean.

The emotions she goes through in an attempt to be alone are wonderfully captured in this travel movie. Heartfelt moments and vivid realizations encapsulate the importance of self discovery through travel.

Our Verdict: If the prospect of vast open spaces and traveling alone, outdoors interests you, this is an incredible film to explore. It is peaceful, yet exciting and very well-produced. 

IMDB: 7.2
Available On: Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, Pluto TV


We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of beautiful and enthralling travel experiences brought to you in film. Wanderlust inspiration for your viewing pleasure, to take you on your next journey, inspiring thought provoking themes and exploring alluring, stark, and wild scenery, places, and moments.

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Jackie Tyburski dives deep into the stories and true essence of the Vivida Lifestyle brand, ethos, and mission. She believes the right words illuminate our purpose and capture life's moments in pure, imperfect, and poetic form. Travelling, cooking, yoga, and paddle-boarding are a few of Jackie's other favourite things, alongside being a mom and wife to a few awesome humans.