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15 Movies That Will Give You Wanderlust

15 Movies That Will Give You Wanderlust

You know you're guilty of it. It's Tuesday night, you're in your pjs (or perhaps haven't even changed from your work clothes yet), curled up on the couch, watching a movie set in some distant exotic location and thinking, "I need to be there right now."  You start planning out how you'll dress, what you'll eat, who you'll go with - you're tempted to ask your best friend to come along, but then who would watch your dog? Before you know it, this is a full-on vacation plan you have to start saving for, all because you were watching Under the Tuscan Sun yet again. Thanks a lot, HBO. 

Not to worry, we're all susceptible to Hollywood's influence, which is why we put together a list of our favorite travel movies that will almost certainly make you want to 'leave it all behind'. You're welcome.


1. Eat Pray Love

The original find-yourself movie! Based on the novel we all read in 2006 while on vacation, Julia Roberts plays another divorcee who sets out to eat her way through Italy, pray her way through India, and love her way through Bali. Three picturesque destinations most of us travelers worship, all in one film!? It's difficult not to start itching for a trip when I see the place she stays in Bali.  

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2. Under the Tuscan Sun

A writer, Diane Lane, runs away from her life in San Francisco after a messy divorce to begin writing the novel she's never had the time to write. This is a movie after my own heart. It captures that 'leave it all behind, buy a house in a foreign country, and then figure it out' spirit that most of long for. Call it the female midlife crisis. Not to mention Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) plays her lesbian best friend with a biting humor that's just so perfect. A must-see if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of it. 

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3. A Good Year

Russell Crowe plays a snarky, self-centered broker whose beloved uncle passes away and he must travel to Provence to stake the claims of his inheritance - including a chateau set on an estate with a vineyard. Tough life, we know. Along his path, he falls in love with the town beauty played by Marion Cotillard. The chateau is enough to make you want to book a flight, but there's a scene when Crowe and Cotillard are having dinner in town next to a large pool of water with a band playing a kind of French jazz that will surely steal your heart. 

4. The Hundred Foot Journey

An aspiring Indian chef moves to France with his family to open up a restaurant, only to realize they are competing with Madame Mallory (played by Helen Mirin) and her Michelin-starred restaurant, situated directly across the street. This film really has it all; a heart-warming love story, a tear-jerking triumph of the ambitious main character Hassan, and mouth-watering food porn that will make you re-think your omelette game. 

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5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 

With his job in jeopardy, Walter (played by Ben Stiller) takes action by embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. This is a surprisingly incredible film that will make you want to hop a plane to higher altitudes, or at least befriend a sherpa. If the scene with Walter skateboarding down the highway doesn't get your heart racing, you might not have a pulse. 

6. Only You

This is one of my all-time favorite movies about a young teacher (Marisa Tomei) who goes searching for her destiny in Italy with her best friend Kate (Bonnie Hunt) the weekend before her wedding and falls in love with a shoe salesman (Robert Downey Jr.). You really can't go wrong with this 90s rom-com, it's Robert Downey Jr. and Maris Tomei at their finest, plus the cast heads off to Positano on the Amalfi Coast, checking into Le Sirenseuse, an 18th century palazzo turned hotel.

7. Couples Retreat

Okay, so it's not Oscar-worthy, and most likely many of the scenes were actually filmed on Universal's backlot - that evening waterfall set can't be real. Even so, Couples Retreat has some hilariously redeeming moments and one-liners that we constantly quote, plus it's set in postcard-worthy Bora Bora. Definitely worth a watch!

8. French Kiss

Another 90s rom-com that takes you all over Paris, Cannes, Nice, and Provence! Meg Ryan plays a woman desperate to get her fiance back after he falls in love with a French goddess on a business trip to Paris. She has a meet-cute with a thief, Kevin Kline, who offers to help her win her love back. If Meg Ryan's likable quirkiness doesn't win you over, then the classic European-holiday scenes surely will. 

9. Memoirs of a Geisha

This is the movie that made me fall in love with Japanese gardens. The sets so colorful and romantic with no details spared - the peacocks and falling cherry blossoms in this scene are everything. I'm immediately transported into this pre-World War 2 Japan, where time moved slower, women wore full kimono garb, and geisha houses were an acceptable career choice. 

10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

I'm a sucker for Hawaii, so a hilarious movie with tons of quotable lines set in a beyond-amazing resort on Oahu is pretty much my jam. This is a movie you can watch over and over again - just maybe not with the kiddos. NSFK.

11. Brokedown Palace

Nothing like one last moment of freedom before going off to college.  If it hadn't been for that whole drug-smuggling incident and getting thrown into prison, this could have been a documentary on how to host the best BFF's trip to Thailand. 

12. The Beach

Even if it's only redeeming qualities are a half-naked Leo for the majority of the movie and the epic beach scenes, this film is still worth a watch. The Beach showcases Ko Phi Phi's Maya Bay and unlike other films that may only have a scene or two actually filmed on location, the majority of the film was shot in the picturesque Thai beach.  

13. Mama Mia

A heart-warming musical set in arguably one of the hottest vacation spots right now, Santorini, Greece. Mama Mia will not only make you want to book a flight to the Greek islands pronto, Meryl Streep's character may just change your entire outlook on what being a mom looks like. 

14. Vicki Cristina Barcelona

Summer in Spain through Woody Allen's eyes. So, naturally there's a love triangle. Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson star in this indie-film set in Barcelona (naturally).  While it doesn't have the romantic quality of some of other favorites, it does a great job of giving you a taste of Spain. 


15. My Life in Ruins

In my opinion, this film was underrated.  Nia Vardalos is charming as always, but newcomer Alexis Georgoulis plays a scruffy bus driver who turns into a total hottie by the end. Oh yeah, and his name is Poupi Kaucas  so that's entertaining. Potty jokes, gets me every time. 

What are your favorite travel movies?



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