10 Movies That Inspire Wanderlust

Did you ever watch a movie that nudged you to plan a trip as soon as you stepped out of the cinema?

Whether it’s 10-second scene or the entire movie itself, there are cinematic creations that ignite that exciting knot in your stomach, the feeling of wanting to leave everything behind, that itch to explore the world—better known as wanderlust. Here are 10 of my personal picks in no particular order.

1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Do you also have a secret world in your head? Ever since I was a kid, my sister would always catch me zoning out and smiling to myself. It’s something I never outgrew. Like Ben Stiller’s character, I’m always plotting adventures and stories in my mind, complete with romanticized dialogue and a hip soundtrack. Every now and then I take the leap and pursue those adventures.

2. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

The trailer doesn’t give the actual movie justice, but it features heartthrobs Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as two teenage boys embarking on a Mexican road trip with an older woman played by Maribel Verdu. I saw this movie during the early 2000s, back when I was a mix of a naïve and risqué young traveler, so I could relate to certain aspects of the movie.

3. Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

When the movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book came out in 2010, friends immediately asked me, “Is that something you would do?” My answer: “I already did something like that!” But it wasn’t in Europe—at least not yet.

4. Before Sunrise (1995)

This movie came out in 1995, but I didn’t see it until 2007 when I was sitting alone in a New York apartment. My short-lived, long distance relationship had just ended, and it was my first time living alone away from the Philippines, in a city I had never been to before.

5. A Good Year (2006)

Russell Crowe plays a British investment broker who inherits his uncle’s chateau and vineyard in Provence. He returns to the place of his childhood and is torn between selling the vineyard and living there to run the place. One of my favorite scenes is when he picked a sweet, ripe tomato from the plant and bit into it. I told myself that I would one day find myself in Europe doing the exact same thing.

6. The Bucket List (2007)

This film made me cry, go straight to my journal to jot down my own bucket list, and begin plotting my life adventures. Ever year I tick a few things off, at the same time adding new items to the list.

7. Chocolat (2000)

Back in 2000, artisan hipster cafés had yet to exist in Manila and experimental fusion cuisines seemed unheard of, so you can imagine how I reacted to this movie’s chocolate concoctions. Chili pepper flakes in hot chocolate? Chocolate gravy on roast chicken? Magical!

8. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Based on the memoirs of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granado, this film dramatizes the 8-month road trip that the two friends took in their youth. This film made me want to invest in my own modern version of “The Mighty One,” Che’s rickety 1939 Norton 500 motorcycle that they used in the early part of their course. Another Gael Garcia Bernal classic!

9. The Beach (2000)

“I always feel like everyone’s always trying to do something different, but they always wind up doing the same damn thing,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Richard said in the movie. In his quest to find unchartered tropical bliss, Richard finds himself in a solitary beach with other travelers. The Beach was filmed in Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi island, years before the tsunami devastated that piece of paradise.

10. Big Fish (2003)

This biggest lesson I took from this movie is: Our adventures are bigger and grander in our memories than they were in real life—and that’s okay.

What movies inspired you to travel?

Featured photo from waltermitty.com
First published on Nov. 26, 2015.
Updated on Feb. 11, 2019.