Seven wanderlust movies

My favorite travel movies

Seven wanderlust movies

Just a few months ago, we were still excited about our travel plans for 2020. We had planned a trip to good old London, and we couldn’t wait to try the digital nomad lifestyle again. Sri Lanka and Croatia were on our shortlist. But then Corona stopped all our trip preparations and left us with new routines to stay sane – like jogging in the park and trying out a hundred sourdough recipes. Finally, travel restrictions in many countries begin to ease, and I started dreaming again. To get you in the mood too, I put together a list of my favorite wanderlust movies. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

In July

In July: two scenes from the movie

I remember watching this movie when I was a kid on German free TV. Back then, it was one of the most inspiring travel movies I had ever seen. The film is about a young teacher embarking on a road trip from Hamburg to Istanbul to reunite with the woman he thinks is the woman of his dreams. It still creates this mystical image of free and wild Eastern Europe in me.

Cast Away

Cast Away: Two scenes on island

When I watch this movie, I am always surprised that only half of it plays on a deserted island. It is a survival movie starring Tom Hanks being stuck alone on that said island trying to escape and eventually starting to talk to a volleyball. Even though surviving a plane crash and not seeing your family for several years is not exactly a walk in the park, the movie does make me crave long wild empty beaches and awakes my thirst for adventure.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Hotel on mountain

This is a movie I could watch over and over again. The scenery was inspired by the Grand Hotels during the Habsburger Monarchy and by the extraordinary landscapes of Austria and Hungary. The beauty of the pictures makes me want to see those noble hotels and sublime mountains. Pro tip: if you should travel to Eastern Germany, visit Görlitz, a little city right at the border to Poland. Not only can you buy your Birkenstocks there in an outlet, but you can also visit the locations where The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inglourious Basterds, and The Reader were shot.

Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet Home Alabama: Two scenes from movie

This is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. You probably know the story: the successful fashion designer Melanie, played by Reese Witherspoon, wants to get married in New York but is still married in Alabama and needs to go there to divorce her husband. You can imagine how this romantic comedy evolves. Probably it is a combination of the cranky characters in the movie, the scenery with great impressive swamp areas, and the songtext of the name-giving song of Lynyrd Skynyrd that makes me want to go to the southern states to tune my image of this region.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi: Pi with Tiger on Boat

This is a movie with amazing pictures of India, the ocean, tropical islands, and impressive animals. It is about a Tamil boy who is stuck on a boat with a Bengal tiger of the family’s zoo after a shipwreck. The movie is very deep since it addresses several philosophical questions; for example, if it is essential for the belief in God to be able to prove his existence. I want to visit Pondicherry, India, now where parts of the movie play.


Amélie: Amélie in metro station

I must confess I am not a huge fan of Paris per se. I have been there two times, once for a private trip which was terrific and once for work which somehow spoiled it for me. I think now is the time to watch this beautiful movie again to get inspired and give Paris another chance. The film is more or less about a young introvert woman who falls in love with an introvert boy. It’s the little details, the nice pictures, the incredible music and not least the intriguing Parisienne atmosphere that makes this movie so unique.

About a boy

About a Boy: three scenes from movie

What do you want more for evening entertainment? A funny yet not too cheesy feel-good romantic comedy with the British Gentleman par excellence Hugh Grant. The story is a bit deeper than Notting Hill, but let’s be honest: I love watching Notting Hill too when I miss London. The film tells the story about the moneyed Londoner Will, who involuntarily becomes friends with the young teen Marcus whose mother has mental problems which show in a failed suicide attempt. It makes you want to fly out to London to take a walk in the parks and gives you some “Oh look, I’ve been to that place already” moments.