Travel Films: My Top 5


Who watched the Academy Awards this past Sunday? I sure did.

Somewhere in the middle of the show, around when they give out all the technical awards and I debate whether or not to go to bed, I was inspired to come up with a list of my favorite travel related movies that have been acknowledged by the Academy.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any last minute airfare, train or vespa purchases incurred from reading this list.

Roman Holiday

Shot entirely on location in Rome, this movie stars Audrey Hepburn as a runaway princess and Gregory Peck as the reporter who ends up falling in love with her. The director, William Wyler, doesn’t waste the beautiful location and films the charming duo in front of Rome’s most famous landmarks.

Movie Trivia: After this movie came out, which features a scenic if slightly terrifying ride ride through Rome on a Vespa, an increase of over 100,000 vespas were sold.

Oscar Nominations: 10

Oscars Won: 3; Best Actress, Best Writing, Best Costume Design

127 Hours

This based-on-a-true-story movie is not for the squeamish. James Franco plays Aron Ralston, the hiker who was forced to cut his own arm off after getting it caught underneath a boulder. The film features incredible views of Moab, “Red Rock Country”, Utah and also depicts the extreme isolation one feels traveling through that kind of landscape. While James Franco is alone on screen for most of the film, it is anything but dull.

Movie Trivia: Only one take with a multiple camera set up and one prosthetic arm was used to film the amputation scene.

Oscar Nominations: 6

Oscars Won: 0

Out of Africa

Meryl Streep dazzles as a Danish Baroness who travels to Kenya to run a coffee plantation with her husband, circa 1914. Watch as she not only falls in love with Robert Redford but with the land and people of Africa.

Movie Trivia: Trained lions were imported from California due to Africa’s strict wildlife laws.

Oscar Nominations: 11

Oscars Won: 7; Best Writing, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction

Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola wrote and directed this movie that follows two lonely Americans visiting Toyko, Japan. They connect while staying in a Hyatt hotel and form a quick yet deep relationship. As with all the movies on this list, the cinematography is likely to give you a serious case of wanderlust.

Movie Trivia: Sofia Coppola based this movie on her marriage to Spike Jonze.

Oscar Nominations: 4

Oscars Won: 1; Best Writing

Before Sunset

The sequel to the 1995 film Before Sunrise reunites the lovely Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Paris nine years after their one night in Vienna. A movie that is guaranteed to make you wonder about your former travel flings, Before Sunset gives the beautiful and romantic answer to “What if?”.

Movie Trivia : A third movie is being written with a release date of 2015, which makes it exactly 10 years after the last time we saw our favorite transcontinental movie couple.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Oscars Won: 0

What movie, Academy Award winning or not, gets you excited to travel?


About Author

Sarah Walker is a writer, actress, and international superstar. She is also the President/CEO of the Some of her favorite travel adventures have taken place in Edinburgh, Barcelona and the Peruvian jungle. She likes cupcakes and kittens.


  1. Great movies, Sarah! I love Before Sunset. My favorite, most inspirational travel movie has got to be Amelie. I just love the whole tone that the movie takes to make me feel like I’m right there on Paris’ streets.

  2. Baraka, a beautifully-edited documentary that came out in the 90s, is one that gets me. Relying on some heavy images, it takes you all around the world. A high recommendation from me!

    Great list Sarah, I do love Roman Holiday- big Audrey fan!

    • Another one of my fav Audrey films is Two for the Road. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

      Checking out Baraka on amazon now!

  3. Lost in Translation has a special place in my heart since I was living in Japan when it came out. I could relate to how Charlotte felt so isolated and intrigued by the culture.

    • I think that’s one of the reasons the movie works so well, it nails that feeling of being lost. Any thoughts as to what Bob said to Charlotte at the end? 🙂

  4. Great list, Sarah! In fact, I am in the process of writing my own Top 10 Travel Movies story too (and I have two of yours on my list!) I love being inspired to go places that have been glamorized on film.

  5. Nice list. I’ve seen all but 127 Hours. I just saw Before Sunset last night for the first time. Loved the Paris scenes, but kind of so-so on the movie. I really like the Bourne Trilogy (I know it’s not a travel movie, but it makes me want to travel) — so many international filming locations! Vicky Christina Barcelona is another fave that got me craving a trip to Spain.

  6. Yessss! I agree with all of them… OK, except the James Franco one that I haven’t seen yet. For some reason, it sounds too much like that movie about the true story of a guy that goes to live in the Alaskan wild in the middle of the winter, and dies from eating the wrong plant. Those “so stupid, could’ve been avoided” types of plots kindda push me away… BUT, I totally agree with all the rest. Especially Roman Holiday!

  7. I definitely agree with Lost in Translation! It’s a great travel movie. Another one I love is The Motorcycle Diaries. Into the Wild is somewhat inspiring, too….until he dies 🙁 I know I need to see 127 hours, but I’m scared of it!

    • Oh yeah! Love those two! Did you know that all of the travel scenes for Walter Mitty were filmed in Iceland? Even the ones that were supposed to be set in Greenland and the Himalayas? Fun fact!

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