6 Movies & Books That Are Sure To Inspire Wanderlust Or Fill That Travel Void

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Movies And Books to Inspire Travel – 6 Excellent Choices

Whether you’re in need of inspiration on where to go and what to do, or you’re locked down and need to sate your appetite for travel in another way… These top movies and books to inspire travel promise to do just that.

This list is a compilation of my personal recommendations and ‘the popular ones’.

Movies to Inspire Travel

In Bruges

This movie kicks off my movies to inspire travel list since it inspired so much travel in me that I actually went to Bruges because of this movie.

Bruges, for those that don’t know, is a small town in Belgium, close to the capital, Brussels. It’s tiny, quaint, and truly the stuff of fairytales. In fact, a running joke in the film is that no one knows where Bruges is, and the fairytale-ness of the place is incredibly bitter-sweet.

Besides the fact that this movie inspires travel, it’s also an incredible movie. Amazing acting, directing, and cinematography.

The movie follows two assassins who get put in Bruges for what they presume is a job. But with little contact from their boss, they spend some time exploring and trying to enjoy their time in this small town.

A movie full of plots twists and sorrow juxtaposed with a beautiful fairytale backdrop, it’s one of my all-time favourites. And not one you should miss out on!

And yes – Bruges is as beautiful as it is shown in the movie. I would recommend a visit! It is only a short train ride from Brussels.

Hyatt Regency Maui


You might laugh at this one. But ladies (and men), if you watch Moana and don’t feel like you want to be a Polynesian Disney princess living on a paradise island and going on adventures with Maui and your piglet friend, then something may very well be wrong with you.

Living in Tonga right now, I am one step closer to Polynesian Princess status (but still way too far off) and have definitely been known to sing the soundtrack whilst out on the ocean paddleboarding.

Based in French Polynesia, Moana is a Disney film that follows the life of Moana, a young Polynesian girl who lives on a small island in a small community that she should lead once she gets older. She finds herself conflicted by her duties and responsibilities at home, and her desire to venture past the reef and discover the world. A conflict that most travellers find themselves dealing with!

Eventually, a problem on the island forces her to venture out, and we follow her on her adventures and she helps her community and discovers her true ancestors.

The Indiana Jones Series

Whether you like travel or not, the Indiana Jones movies are just great movies.

Packed with action and adventure, these movies follow Indiana Jones, an archaeologist travelling about the world doing all the thrilling and exciting things you definitely wouldn’t expect the average archaeologist to do.

Indiana Jones brings you through Egypt, Nepal, through jungle and rainforest… And if by the end of even one of the movies you find it didn’t inspire travel, then maybe the kind of travel you’re after is a quiet beach holiday in Spain.

Books to Inspire Travel

On The Road (Jack Kerouac)

One of those books I had to read in college, but a timeless classic that you won’t easily forget.

The Road follows the main character, Sal, as he sets out on an adventure from New York and across the country.

One of the things I love about this book the most is how real it is. You won’t find the adventures that you might get in Lord of the Rings or Moana, but The Road gives a representation of travel how it really is. Nothing epic, incredible, or jaw-dropping happens. It’s about experiencing the travel as Sal experiences it. Including the highs and the lows, the people he meets, and the places he visits.

Whangarei Falls in New Zealand.

Lord of the Rings (J.R. Tolkien)

If you haven’t read (or seen) Lord of the Rings yet, what are you doing?!

OK, the books are long… But if you have some time and appreciate the finer details in life, then do give the books a go. If you’re looking for books to inspire travel, nothing else does it quite like Lord of the Rings.

Get thrown into a fantasy world and travel across this world as you meet various characters, traverse incredible landscapes and have adventures like no others.

Sure, when you travel in real life, you might not come across as many hobbits and dwarves. But landscapes and experiences as unbelievable as in the books do actually exist.

(Funnily enough, The Shire is based on Cannock Chase, a woodland in Staffordshire, UK, where my dad lives. See – they do exist.)

Sex Lives of Cannibals

The wild card here, don’t be put off by the name of The Sex Lives of Cannibals. It’s little to do with sex, even less to do with cannibals. It follows the story of a writer whose wife got a job posting in Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas). This is a small island nation in the middle of the pacific ocean (not too far from Tonga!).

The novel feels like a series of diary entries as it follows him trying to get to grips with small island life, and his frustrations as he tries to write a book – but instead I suppose he comes out with this one.

It is full of hilarious anecdotes and the realities of what it’s like to experience island life.

The humour is dry and it gives a very genuine feel. I could definitely relate to a lot of it, at least!

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BONUS Book/Movie to Inspire Travel: The Beach

Movie & Book.

Two in one, The Beach is one of the best books and best movies to inspire travel. So much so, that it inspired so many people to travel to the famous site in Thailand where it was filmed that this is now a protected area and severely limits on tourism until the environment has restored itself from years of being battered by fans of The Beach, probably looking for a similar remote, isolated experience – but instead getting something quite the opposite.

If you haven’t seen or read The Beach, it’s one of the first movies I watched that really did set off the wanderer in me and inspire travel. It stars a very young Leonardo DiCaprio who comes across some western nomads who have found paradise in a remote area in Thailand and have set up a life there, living off the land and in a small community.

Obviously, things turn pretty bad pretty quickly.

Nevertheless, it will certainly spark the adventurer in you, inspire travel, and make you wonder; how many places are there left like this now? Untouched, undiscovered, and waiting for you to find it.

The Beach might also be the one time I actually preferred the movie to the book. But I’m pretty sure that this opinion is held since I saw the movie first. The book and movie differ quite a bit, so this is bound to have an effect!

Whether you prefer movies or books, this list will hopefully at least get you started on things to inspire travel. Who knows where they might take you!

Share the movie and book that inspired you to travel or visit a place in the comments below.

Zoe Stephens
Zoe is a freelance writer from Liverpool, UK. She spends her time traveling between China, where she is based, and North Korea, where she works as a tour guide for Koryo Tours. You can follow her journey and see her content from North Korea on Instagram (@zoediscovers) and YouTube. You can see more about her life stuck on Tonga on Instagram @tongadiaries.

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  1. Personally I like the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Black Rain, A Good Year, The Bourne series and James Bond series. Like Father, Six Days Seven Nights and Up in the Air are some of my favorite movies that make me want to travel.


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