No matter how loudly our heart yearns for a distant land, we can't always hop a plane for somewhere new. When things like money, limited vacation time and adult responsibilities put your travel fantasy on hold, here's how you can quell wanderlust - right from the comfort of your living room.
TV Shows that take you travelling:
Three seasons – watch on Netflix
Canadian friends Justin and Scott quit their jobs to embark on a year-long, round-the-world voyage, starting with a cross-country road trip from Halifax to Vancouver. Each episode is around 40 minutes and chronicles their journey, focusing on the adventures and challenges they face on the road. Over three seasons, their travels take them to all seven continents. This show manages to be inspiring while making you feel like you’re travelling, too.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
10 seasons – watch on CNN
Whatever you do, do not watch Parts Unknown on an empty stomach. In this series, internationally renowned chef Anthony Bourdain eats his way around the world while discovering lesser-known destinations. Whether he is bonding with locals over street food or venturing up-river to an overgrown jungle outpost, Bourdain is sometimes political, oftentimes cheeky and always curious. Some of our favourite episodes include Porto and Oman.
House Hunters International
Eleven seasons – watch on HGTV
In this “House Hunters” spin-off, global cultures, languages and foreign customs are explored as buyers search for their perfect home. This show will satisfy your wanderlust by letting you imagine what it would be like to quit your life and live abroad as an expat.
An Idiot Abroad
Three seasons – watch on Sky 1 [UK]
You’ll laugh, burn with jealousy and pull your hair out in frustration watching this British series, in which Karl Pilkington - who has no desire to travel - sets off on a globe-trotting journey. This comical adventure is organized by Karl’s friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of the Office.
Two seasons – watch on Travel + Escape
Travellers fear getting ripped off. In this show, Irish host Connor Woodman travels the world and gets scammed on purpose. Using hidden cameras, he exposes common scams in major cities to inform novice nomads.
Books that offer an Escape:
By Lisa Napoli
Amazon, Radio Shangri La
This memoir follows radio journalist Lisa Napoli as she moves to Bhutan to pursue a romantic encounter and ends up launching a youth-focused radio station. Published in 2010, this nonfiction book is praised as a heartfelt, transporting, personal narrative that sheds light on a little-known culture through the author’s eyes. Click here to read the first chapter.
A Walk in the Woods
By Bill Bryson
Recently transformed into a movie starring Robert Redford, this 1998 autobiographical book details the author’s experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail. With the tongue-in-cheek humour readers expect from Bryson, combined with history and facts of the trail, this is a travel book you won’t want to put down.
The Great Railway Bazaar
By Paul Theroux
Originally published in 1975, this nonfiction book is renowned as a classic example of modern travel literature. Theroux takes readers on a four-month train journey from London to Asia between its pages. The narrative intersects with the sepia-toned days overland travel along the Hippie trail, making it a nostalgic read for tech-obsessed travellers.
By Alex Garland
In this 1996 novel, Richard, a fictional English backpacker, searches relentlessly for a legendary Thai island not yet overrun by the tourism - only to discover it’s not as idyllic as imagined. The Beach was turned into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000. It's a cult favourite.
How to Walk a Puma
By Peter Allison
Published in 2011, How to Walk a Puma is a humorous biography written by animal-lover and world-traveller Peter Allison. Sassy, self-deprecating and full of tense moments, this book will transport you to South America without the price of a plane ticket.
Movies that will Move you:
The Darjeeling Limited
Indie film/drama – 104 m
Brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Peter (Adrien Brody) set off on a train journey through India after not speaking since their father’s funeral a year prior. Each brother struggles with personal issues they hope this trip will resolve. Their journey reaches its climax when they meet their mother in a Himalayan convent. Wes Anderson's distinct aesthetic will have you wanderlusting for the vibrance of India.
Drama/romance – 105 m
Every romantic traveller has daydreamed about running into their soulmate on the road. In this film, an American tourist meets a French student on a train and sparks fly. The pair decides to spend the night wandering Vienna together. Although they part ways in the morning, two sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight pick up their love story years in the future.
Thriller/drama – 114 m – watch on Netflix
Although this movie transports you to Thailand, it won’t make you want to travel there yourself. This heart-stopping film follows a brave British family caught in the 2004 tsunami. Cozy up and watch this film while you’re home, safe and sound.
Drama/biography – 120 m
Journeying nearly 2,000 miles from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, an Australian woman craving solo adventure treks through the outback with her dog and four camels. Sponsored by National Geographic, a photographer follows her on her perilous journey. She writes about her experience in the internationally bestselling book Tracks, which was adapted into this film.
Encounters at the End of the World
Documentary – 140 m – watch on Neflix
Antarctica is a destination that many of us know little about. In this creative documentary that almost seems like a sci-fi thriller, film-maker Werner Herzog takes us to the McMurdo Station. Gorgeous images of ice, animals and human perseverance will truly make you feel as though you’ve travelled to the End of the World—or, at times, an entirely different planet.
What do you watch or read to quell wanderlust?
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