We’ve all experienced just how stir-crazy quarantine can make us, but you travelers and adventurers out there are probably growing antsier than most. You’re used to road-tripping and backpacking, but now you’re stuck daydreaming and reminiscing on your journeys past.
Fortunately, regardless of our income, location, or situation, we can harness the power of our imaginations and live vicariously through fictional characters’ vacations. That all rhymed, and it was a total accident, but I’m pretty proud.
Here are eight of the best travel movies that will satisfy any traveler in their twenties (or anyone of any age) who’s suffering from a bad case of the travel bug.
1. Mamma Mia!
Long story short: Sophie is getting married, she has three possible fathers, and she invites them all to her wedding. The chaos and hilarity of the ensuing events are overlaid with ABBA hits, and there’s lots of Meryl Streep screen-time.
Mamma Mia! is a personal favorite of mine, and not just because of the classic soundtrack. Mamma Mia! will transport you to the fictional, but very Santorini-like, island of Kalokairi. There, you’ll spend an hour and a half soaking in the gorgeous views and singing along with your friends. The crystal blue waters and white sands of Kalokairi, along with Meryl Streep’s iconic singing, are sure to satiate your desire to travel for at least a little while.
2. Monte Carlo
If you’re looking for a feel-good chick flick, give Monte Carlo a try. After she graduates high school, Grace (Selena Gomez) and her two best friends go on an unpredictable and unexpected adventure in Paris. They end up in, you guessed it, the lavish and glamorous Monte-Carlo.
Travelers who dream of visiting France and surrounding areas will love the scenery and depiction of the French culture found in this film. Watching this movie feels a lot like going on a whirlwind international vacation with your crazy best friends. It’s just so much fun, and it’s really one of the best travel movies!
3. The Lizzie McGuire Movie
This is one of the best Disney Channel Originals ever made, and I stand by that. Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo (the iconic Lizzie McGuire trio) head off on a school trip to Italy after graduating from eighth grade. The trip is full of lots of middle school drama, tween romance, and visits to some of Rome’s most famous landmarks. It’s a classic travel movie.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie falls into the same category as Monte Carlo— it’s a lighthearted film about adventuring with friends. However, it also brings a TON of nostalgia to the table for the Millennial/Gen Z babies out there. If you’re in the mood to be whisked through the streets of Rome on the back of a moped with a handsome Italian boy, The Lizzie McGuire Movie should be on your watchlist. Hey now, this movie truly is what dreams are made of. (See what I did there?)
4. Eat Pray Love
Eat Pray Love is pretty much the quintessential wanderlust-inspiring travel movie. Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, is on a quest through Italy, India, and Indonesia looking for self-love and closure after a divorce. She experiences a little bit of everything along the way, from killer cuisine to new romance.
The scenery is to die for. It’s the highlight of the film, in my opinion. I bet you’ll feel like you’ve gained a new friend or two and had an epic adventure by the time the credits start rolling.
5. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a definite must if you’re craving adventure. The title does, in fact, include the word “traveling.” The film is sort of about pants, but it’s mostly about four lifelong friends navigating their first summer apart and becoming their own people.
It’s a bit of a tearjerker, though. If the thought of watching a film about best friends who start growing apart as they get older and have their own experiences makes your heart hurt a little, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, it’s a great way to see a little bit of Greece, Mexico, South Carolina, and Maryland in one sitting.
If cheesy, early-2000s movies about impromptu road trips, girl power, and the magic of friendship are your jam, Crossroads should be at the top of your watchlist. This MTV original stars Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, and Taryn Manning. The girls play estranged best friends who reunite after graduating high school and end up on the road together.
Crossroads is full of fun songs, unexpected mishaps, and cliche kissing scenes. It’s everything you could ask for in a kitschy teen movie. It will definitely get you excited for your next road trip.
Sometimes we all just need to embrace our inner child and enjoy a good Pixar movie. Up follows the adventures (and misadventures) of Mr. Fredricksen and Russell, a grumpy old man and a Boy Scout who become unlikely friends. Their quest takes them in the air, to the desert, and through a rainforest. It’s quite the journey!
If you can make it through the first ten minutes of the movie without crying (good luck), you’ll have your wanderlust satisfied with this fun, heartwarming tale. After all, one of the film’s most famous lines is, “Adventure is out there!”
I will admit: Wild is the only film on this list I haven’t seen myself. I’m suggesting it based on glowing recommendations from my friends. Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl Strayed, a recently divorced woman who decides to work on healing her heart by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own.
Throughout the film, we see glimpses of her complicated past intertwined with gorgeous shots of the Pacific Northwest. If you’re looking to get inspired to find yourself and satisfy your need to travel at the same time, Wild is probably the travel film you should start with.
Conclusion: Go Watch These Great Travel Movies
Being stuck at home sucks, plain and simple. Even though there’s not a lot of travel going on right now, nothing is stopping you from living out your sightseeing dreams through travel movies! If you’ve finished all of the films on this list and just can’t wait to plan your post-quarantine vacay, check out this post about the best travel destinations for college students on a budget.