8 Films to Unleash the Wanderer in You

Life has been a little stationary of late (read into that as you will). In between my bouts of itchy feet and jealous rage at everyone else’s happy snaps, I recharge my restless soul by pursuing my other (slightly more sedentary) passion: lapping up more of those happy snaps on the big screen.

For those of you that favour a lounge couch to the straightjacket-like devices otherwise known as an aircraft seat, being a vicarious vagabond is probably not half bad. That is, as long as you know what to watch and whom to follow. I have dug deep into recent memory to bring you my Top 8 travel flicks, especially curated to unleash the wanderer in you.

8. Lost in Translation (2003)

lost in translation

Have you ever found yourself at the crossroads, feeling nothing short of downtrodden, lost and alienated? Don’t sweat; I may have just the destination for you! The glitzy heart of Tokyo, Japan provides the perfect backdrop for a budding romance between two lost souls, as they bond over shared disillusions whilst parading the city’s funky night circuit. While the Japanese have criticised the film for its one-dimensional (and at times, vacuous) representation of its bustling gateway city, Lost in Translation has won a slew of awards and is a visual and sensory metaphor for one of life’s vulnerable moments.

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Bill Murray as Bob; Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte

7. Everest (2015)

Everest 3

Loosely based on Jon Krakauer’s exposé Into Thin Air, the fateful expedition in Everest had me gripping my seat in jaw-dropping wonder. Confronting in its cinematography, the film is not one for the faint-hearted as it explores the thrills and perils of lives lived on the edge. (Click here for my in-depth review.)

Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Starring: Jason Clarke as Rob Hall; Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fischer

6. Wild (2014)


As an unseasoned female traveller, this film based on one woman’s journey for redemption has struck many chords in me. Recently divorced and grief-stricken from a family tragedy, Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile hike across America’s Pacific Crest Trial is a story of self-discovery, acceptance and ultimately, regeneration.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring: Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed

5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)


Ben Stiller’s longboarding escapade along picturesque Icelandic highways just about tickled every adventurous fibre of my soul. As a professional daydreamer, this film fulfilled all of my fantasies (and then some). It might have been a surprise hit, but who wouldn’t fall for a fearless Stiller (as the quixotic Walter Mitty), drop-dead gorgeous Icelandic scenery and a plot line with as many twists and turns as the winding roads travelled?

Director: Ben Stiller

Starring: Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

4. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Eat Pray Love

Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling personal memoir of the same name, Julia Roberts renders her most memorable performance yet since Erin Brockovich in a film that oozes feminine charm. Casting aside a life of comfort back home, our protagonist embarks on a quest for culinary delights in Italy (eat), spiritual peace in India (pray) and ultimately, serendipity in Bali, Indonesia (love). Any banality in the screenplay can be forgiven by magical cinematography, which was worth its weight in box office gold.

Director: Ryan Murphy

Starring: Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert

3. Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild

A staple of any noteworthy lists on travel filmography, Into the Wild (adapted from another one of Jon Krakauer’s bestsellers) sparked a renaissance in Alaskan tourism. The tale of cultured college graduate Chris McCandless has polarised audiences since his demise in 1992, as he set out to conquer the Alaskan wilderness with nothing more than youthful vigour. Regardless of your moral persuasions, there would be no disputing the film’s sweeping grandeur in juxtaposing the frailties of human life.

Director: Sean Penn

Starring: Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless

2. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

A Fault In Our Stars

A story of two terminally ill young lovers is always destined for blockbuster glory, especially as its setting transitions to one of Europe’s most romantic and photogenic cities. Never one to disappoint, Amsterdam upped the ante with its postcard-perfect canals and historic treasures. Accustomed as they were to film crews and flashing lights, the Amsterdammers nonetheless appeared star-struck, with reports that the actual bench used in the film has since been stolen!

Director: Josh Boone

Starring: Ansel Elgort as Augustus; Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace

1. The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)

Before 1

Coming up in top spot is definitely a sentimental favourite of mine, not the least because I wrote about it at length and have never stopped reminiscing about it since. (Incidentally, this post remains one of my most Googled works and one of my proudest.)

The film centres on a kismet moment, and expansion of that moment over a period of 18 years. Perhaps my favourite modern day romance of all time, the Before Trilogy is also no less a travelogue, spanning the initial mystique of Vienna (Before Sunrise), the sensuality of Paris (Before Sunset) and the intensity of the Greek Islands (Before Midnight).

Director: Richard Linklater

Starring: Ethan Hawke as Jesse; Julie Delpy as Celine

No credit for images used.

36 Comments Add yours

  1. Haven’t seen The Fault in Our Stars, Everest and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Will do. Into the Wild has been one of the most powerful movie moments in my life, and the Trilogy is more than just three films.

    1. Jolene says:

      Thanks for your comments Manja! “Before Trilogy is more than just three films” – couldn’t agree with you more! Hope you get to enjoy the others one day. 🙂

  2. This is a wonderful collection of films. If I were to be stranded on an island they would keep me happy for at least eight nights.

    1. Jolene says:

      Hope you enjoy the films. But under less dire circumstances…

  3. Rochyne says:

    nice post 🙂 Can’t believe I’ve only seen 2 off of this list! I need to fix this. Also – this post has got me all (re)excited about travelling next month 🙂

    1. Jolene says:

      Thank you! Travels are much more exciting I’m jealous!

      1. Rochyne says:

        Aha no problem 🙂 yeah indeed! Should be good

  4. Love all except Eat Pray Love. Good list!

    1. Jolene says:

      Thanks for your note! If truth be told, I’m very much of the same view. EPL was… well, just bland, but I was influenced by its themes and ended up with my own version EPL last year. 🙂

  5. Always a Foreigner says:

    I’ve never heard of the Before Trilogy, I will definitely need to check it out. Thanks!

    1. Jolene says:

      Pls do!! It’s a bit of a low key affair that’s why not enough publicity has been drummed up about it, but well worth a try. 😊

  6. A Hearty Nomad says:

    Hey, I never heard of the before trilogy! Eat Pray love, so tacky but cute!Happy Monday Jolene

    1. Jolene says:

      To be honest I only put eat pray love on there only because that would highly expected in such a list. But the Before trilogy takes the cake! Enchanting story line played out by the equally enchanting couple. 🙂
      On the other hand, Happy and Monday somehow just don’t belong together 😂 Have a good week!!

      1. A Hearty Nomad says:

        Lol you made me laugh. I get what you mean.

  7. poetrylover says:

    I nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award https://poetry2473.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/mystery-blogger-award/
    I’d love for you to participate but it’s totally your choice.

    1. Jolene says:

      Thanks dear! It’s great to be remembered. I’ll be over soon! 🙂

  8. Rachel McKee says:

    I loved Into the Wild! You’ve listed so many good ones! I want to see and read The Fault In Our Stars.

    1. Jolene says:

      I don’t normally watch teen flicks but I watched TFIOS and was hooked, then bought and read the book. All in the same weekend…

  9. paintdigi says:

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    1. Jolene says:

      Thank you – your site looks lovely too! 🙂

      1. paintdigi says:

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  10. fkasara says:

    In my opinion Into the Wild is one of the few examples in which the movie was better than the book!

    1. Jolene says:

      Hey Sara, glad you liked the movie! I am biased! Jon Krakauer is one of the few authors whose works I love to read over and over again… The movie is also a fabulous reenactment😊

      1. fkasara says:

        I should give him another shot, as Into the Wild is his only work that I’ve read and that I love books about mountaneering!!

      2. Jolene says:

        Into Thin Air!!! I loooved that one. And yes, me too, I’m into mountaineering 😜

      3. fkasara says:

        I’ll check it, thanks!
        I personally love Walter Bonatti’s books; I don’t know if they have translated them in English, though.

  11. Gorgeous your BLOG !!! I’m following!!! Follow mine too !!! Kisses !!!

  12. Oh Jolene, your words speak directly to the dreamer in my being❤ it feels like they flow effortlessly through your fingers to acquaint us with a more mature and deeper take on life and its various elements, movies being one.
    This list poked the ever eager traveler in me once again! I haven’t seen all, so thank you for these wonderful suggestions😄
    Also, The Before Series, I love it so much ❤ Though I’m afraid In to the Wild, left me a little depressed.

    1. Jolene says:

      Thank you Ms Twinkling, dreaming is the best profession out there and we are all lucky to be part-timing it. Hmm, am I channeling the mature and deep? Perhaps I ought to show more of my passions for Lego to bring out the child 😜 The Before series is just a classic (and I would wake up feeling disillusioned that Jesse and Celine were not a real life couple), I’m glad you enjoyed. Lost in Translation is a little alike, but the conversations are way deeper and wittier in Before. 😊

      1. I wanted to see Lost in Translation, perhaps will do. And don’t judge me, even the animation movies of Hollywood make me cry because they are deep, mature and pure emotions. So nah, I stick to my theory of you been highly mature!

      2. Jolene says:

        It just shows you are deep, mature and thoughtful yourself 😊

  13. luckilylenny says:

    I love this list! ❤ I'll definitely on my couch this coming weekend because of you! :p

    1. Jolene says:

      That’s great Lenny! Hope you have a great one. PS I watched the Before Trilogy in one sitting (6+hours) which made a fantastic day! Hope your hubby doesn’t blame me for turning his wife into a weekend couch potato though… 😉

      1. luckilylenny says:

        Well, my husband loves movies more than I am. I am pretty sure he’ll love my weekend plan for this! 🙂

  14. It’s a personal life goal of mine to visit every place used in the before trilogy 🙂

    1. Jolene says:

      Yes, absolutely! I’m starting out with Vienna this year!! 😍 Thanks for visiting. 🙂

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