Wanderlust packs a wicked bite, especially when your vacation’s canceled. To ease those itchy feet, try streaming an adventure-filled flick or transportive series. It might just be your passport to the peace, joy, and enlightenment travel can bring (or at least let you relax for a few).
We’ve gathered together some recommendations of our favorite movies and shows (in no particular order) that will help you take flight to another land. Whether you’re looking for delicious bites of another culture, a mind-clearing wander in the wilderness, or a funny farce on the mishaps of road trips, let your armchair become your window seat — with a lot more legroom and better snacks.
Looking for more ways to getaway? Check out “Literary Escapes: 10 Books That Take You Places.”
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann
From Searchlight Pictures: “In ‘Wild,’ director Jean-Marc Valée (‘Dallas Buyers Club’), Academy Award–winner Reese Witherspoon (‘Walk the Line’) and Academy Award–nominated screenwriter Nick Hornby (‘An Education’) bring bestselling-author Cheryl Strayed’s extraordinary adventure to the screen.
“After years of reckless behavior, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Strayed makes a rash decision. Haunted by memories of her mother Bobbi (Academy Award–nominee Laura Dern) and with absolutely no experience, she sets out to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own.
“‘Wild’ powerfully reveals her terrors and pleasures — as she forges ahead on a journey that maddens, strengthens, and ultimately heals her.” —recommended by Elisa Brittain, dental marketing manager
Director: Sean Penn
Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener
After you wander in the wilderness with “Wild,” (see above) make it a nature-themed double-feature with “Into the Wild.” As reviewed in “The New York Times”: “There is plenty of sorrow to be found in ‘Into the Wild,’ Sean Penn’s adaptation of the nonfiction bestseller by Jon Krakauer. The story begins with an unhappy family, proceeds through a series of encounters with the lonely and the lost, and ends in a senseless, premature death.
“But though the film’s structure may be tragic, its spirit is anything but. It is infused with an expansive, almost giddy sense of possibility, and it communicates a pure, unaffected delight in open spaces, fresh air and bright sunshine.” —recommended by April Kilcrease, editorial director
Director: Stephan Elliott
Stars: Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp
Review of “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” by Peter Bradshaw in “The Guardian”: “In 1994, writer-director Stephan Elliott created a pioneering LGBT gem with this funny, smart and intensely lovable road-trip comedy – an anti-Crocodile Dundee. It’s about Tick (Weaving) and Adam (Pearce), Australian drag-queen short of cash who journey from Sydney to Alice Springs where Tick’s estranged straight wife, Marion (Sarah Chadwick), has got them a gig performing in a hotel lounge.
“This they do in a converted bus that they rename Priscilla and have to repaint, to cover the homophobic graffiti people have been spraying on it. But they must also do in the company of Bernadette, startlingly played by Stamp, a trans woman and artiste who has just been widowed and needs a new life direction.” —recommended by A.K.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rebecca Johnson
Summary of “The Trip” by IFC Films: “Playing loose versions of themselves, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reprise their hilariously fictionalized roles from “Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” and reunite with acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom for an acerbically witty, largely improvised ride through the English countryside.
“Tapped by “The Observer” to review fine restaurants throughout the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, Steve finds himself without a traveling companion after his girlfriend decides not to go at the last minute.
“After being turned down by everyone else he knows, Steve extends an invitation to Rob, and together the pair attempt to navigate the winding back roads of rural England, impersonating popular celebrities such as Michael Caine, Woody Allen, and Liam Neeson (among many others) and bickering along the way.” —recommended by A.K.
Director: Walter Salles
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mía Maestro
Synopsis of “The Motorcycle Diaries” by Focus Features: “‘The Motorcycle Diaries,’ which world-premiered to a standing ovation at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, follows an inspiring journey of self-discovery and traces the youthful origins of a revolutionary heart. The rich and complex human and social topography of the Latin American continent is unveiled in all its glory as two friends experience life at its fullest.
“The film, directed by Walter Salles (‘Central Station,’ ‘Behind the Sun’), is adapted by José Rivera from the journals of two real-life young Argentines, Alberto Granado and Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, the latter of whom would become ‘El Che.’” —recommended by A.K.
Director: Sofia Coppola
Stars: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
Synopsis of Oscar-winner “Lost In Translation” by Focus Features: “Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are two Americans in Tokyo. Bob is a movie star in town to shoot a whiskey commercial, while Charlotte is a young woman tagging along with her workaholic photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi).
“Unable to sleep, Bob and Charlotte cross paths one night in the luxury hotel bar. This chance meeting soon becomes a surprising friendship. Charlotte and Bob venture through Tokyo, having often hilarious encounters with its citizens, and ultimately discover a new belief in life's possibilities.
“Shot entirely on location in Japan, Sofia Coppola's ‘Lost in Translation’ is a valentine to the nature of close friendships and to the city of Tokyo. Ms. Coppola's film, from her original screenplay, contemplates the unexpected connections we make that might not last — yet stay with us forever.” —recommended by A.K.
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: Simon Yates, Joe Simpson, Brendan Mackey
Synopsis of “Touching the Void” from IFC Films: “In the mid-80’s two young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Siula Grande in Peru; a feat that had previously been attempted but never achieved. With an extra man looking after base camp, Simon and Joe set off to scale the mount in one long push over several days. The peak is reached, however on the descent Joe falls and breaks his leg.
“Despite what it means, the two continue with Simon letting Joe out on a rope for 300 meters, then descending to join him and so on. However when Joe goes out over an overhang with no way of climbing back up, Simon makes the decision to cut the rope. Joe falls into a crevasse and Simon, assuming him dead, continues back down. Joe however survives the fall and was lucky to hit a ledge in the crevasse. This is the story of how he got back down.” —recommended by A.K.
Pair with “Free Solo” (2018) for a mountain-scaling double feature.
Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney
A humorous reminder that sometimes a little social distance isn’t such a bad thing.
Synopsis of “Away We Go” from Rotten Tomatoes: “This funny and heartfelt film follows the journey of an expectant couple as they travel the U.S. in search of the perfect place to put down roots and raise their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover ‘home’ on their own terms for the first time.” —recommended by A.K.
Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland, Stefan Pashov
Summary of “Encounters at the End of the World” from Rotten Tomatoes: “Werner Herzog confirms his standing as poet laureate of men in extreme situations with ‘Encounters at the End of the World.’ In this visually stunning exploration, Herzog travels to the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station, headquarters of the National Science Foundation and home to 1,100 people during the austral summer (Oct – Feb).
“Over the course of his journey, Herzog examines human nature and Mother nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a society as far away from society as one can get.” —recommended by A.K.
Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick
Synopsis of “Up in the Air” from Rotten Tomatoes: “Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who loves his life on the road, is forced to fight for his job when his company downsizes its travel budget. He is required to spend more time at home just as he is on the cusp of a goal he's worked toward for years: reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.” —recommended by A.K.
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles”; “The English Patient”; “Thelma & Louise”; “Before Sunrise”; “Y Tu Mamá También”; “The Beach”; “Sideways”; “Little Miss Sunshine”; “Endless Summer”; “Up”; “Crazy Rich Asians”; “Raiders of the Lost Ark”; “Easy Rider”; “Catch Me If You Can”; “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
Sadly no more episodes will be made of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” as the engaging host, who was a celebrity chef, traveler, and writer, died in 2018. In this CNN show, which won 12 Primetime Emmys, Bourdain did an amazing job of transporting his viewers to far-flung places via local food.
Rolling Stone wrote about the final (posthumous) season of Bourdain’s show: “It ends up being a tribute to his wanderlust, his curiosity, his unsentimental compassion, his punk-rock conscience, his barbed political commentary. But most of all, a tribute to his boundless appetite for other people’s food and other people’s stories.” —Chrystle Cu, Cocofloss co-founder
Ewan McGregor and his BFF decide to take a 19,000-mile motorcycle trip from London to New York City in “Long Way Round.” Hilarity and adventures ensure. And yes, Ewan’s just as charming in real life as you’d imagine. This entertaining BBC series was followed by “Long Way Down” (2007), in which the actor-adventurers motorcycle from northern Scotland to South Africa. —Kristina Malsberger, content writer
“Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” is a surprisingly delightful National Geographic series about an infamously high-tempered chef and his world travels. Instead of imposing his signature tight-laced rules on his international hosts, he humbly uses his love of food to truly explore the local culture, learn from cooks of all kinds, and discover the culinary traditions in such places as Morocco, New Zealand, and Alaska. —Jennica Peterson, content writer
Explore real estate in other countries through House Hunters International on HGTV. Here’s how the channel describes the show: “This spinoff of the wildly popular HGTV ‘House Hunters’ globe trots from Sao Paolo to Prague. Home hunters and their real estate agents check out all sorts of architectural styles and work through the idiosyncrasies of buying real estate in other countries. In any language, home buying is an emotional experience.” —recommended by E.B. dental marketing manager
“Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations” with Andrew Zimmern gives you a glimpse of a culture by exploring its cuisine. Each episode focuses on a classic dish from a specific region — from fried chicken in Atlanta to Korean tacos in L.A. to Cuban sandwiches in Miami — and shows us the history of how the dish came to be, as well as how to make it. —recommended byTricia Enriquez, fulfillment team lead
For another fabulous flight into food and culture, check out the Netflix series “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” Here’s how Netflix describes the show: “Master these four elements, master the kitchen. Based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling book, ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ is the essential guide to the basic elements of good cooking.
“Across the four part experience, the spirited guide Samin travels to home kitchens of Italy, the southern islands of Japan, the heat of the Yucatán and back to Berkeley's Chez Panisse—where she started her culinary career — to demystify and explore the central principles of what makes food delicious and how each of us can easily incorporate those elements into every dish.”
Nosrat sums up her heartwarming approach in a quote in “The Atlantic”: “At some point, I realized food was a tool for bringing people together, for telling stories about people, for telling stories about culture” she said. “And that’s what I really care about. So it’s only natural that they would go together.” —recommended by A.K.
@livlaugheat Watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and wishing we can go back to Japan to eat all the incredible food!
@kaylamcap “Planet Earth”! It’s peaceful and educational! 🌏
@teeheehoo “Ugly Delicious” — insightful thought provoking show around food and culture.
@leahwigley We like to watch the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” It’s so funny and the setting is the beautiful Hawaiian islands!
@synapsetosynapse Watching “Outlander”! They travel through time from 1742 to 1942, back and forth and beyond! Plus everyone’s got a killer Scottish accent and lots of kilts.
While you chillax on the couch with a transportive show, treat your teeth to a calming cleanse with Cocofloss. Our new Passion Fruit fragrance is like a tropical beach vacay for your mouth.