The best movies to feed your wanderlust while travel is halted


Although the coronavirus COV(D-19 pandemic has halted domestic and international travel, there are an array of movies to help feed your wanderlust — from the laughs provided by the Griswolds in National Lampoon’s European Vacation to inspiring lesson of self-discovery presented in Eat Pray Love.

To help in your movie selection, below are some picks for what to watch from some of the DMV’s top travel journalists and influencers.

Midnight in Paris Thumbnail2From Kelly Magyarics, freelance travel journalist

“I find the movie Midnight in Paris to be charming, clever and sweet. Not only does it virtually transport me to my absolute favorite city in the world–which looks even more gorgeous and romantic during Owen Wilson’s late night walks–but I get to time travel to several eras including the 1920s to hang with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and to the Moulin Rouge during La Belle Epoque. The theme of the allure of nostalgia versus being mindfully happy in the actual present is one that’s especially poignant right now as our lives are on pause and we are driven to reflect about what actually matters and what we need to be truly happy.”


After LifeFrom Andrea Sachs, staff travel writer for the Washington Post

“One of my favorite movies is not a conventional travel movie but travel does play a cameo role: After Life, a South Korean movie. Also on my list, Tracks, about a woman’s camel trek across the Australian desert. Not a trip I’d personally want to take but I loved the adventure, the stark scenery, the friendship between person and dog (the best travel mate ever) and the heroine’s courage. We could all use some of her strength and fortitude right now.”


View from The Top Movie - ThumbnailFrom Bobby Laurie, co-host of “The Jet Set”

“I’m a fan of View from The Top. It’s a staple flight attendant movie [speaking as a former flight attendant] because it goes “behind the scenes” of a flight attendant training and what life is like in the sky. Although the movie takes some liberties and there’s some inaccuracies on how crews get assigned to planes and cities. it’s travel and aircraft heavy, funny, and at the heart of the travel industry. It makes me want to get to an airport and on a plane.”


The Motorcycle DiariesFrom Jessica van Dop DeJesus, founder of The Dining Traveler 

“One of my favorite movies is The Motorcycle Diaries, the scenes of South America are stunning.”


The Grand Budapest HotelFrom Elaine Clayton, travel writer and publisher of

The Grand Budapest Hotel always inspires me to want to take a vacation and explore more of the architecture in Central and Eastern Europe. The food markets, city and landscapes shown in Singapore in Crazy Rich Asians are now on my travel list. And the scenes for Mamma Mia 2 were filmed on the beautiful island of Vis in Croatia, so it’s great to see since the islands are just as gorgeous in person!”


The NamesakeFrom Renee Sklarew, freelance travel journalist

“I treasure the movie The Namesake, which shows inspiring scenes of traveling through India including touring the Taj Mahal. Also Bride & Prejudice, a British take on a Bollywood love story. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to India, so I love watching films about the country and it’s colorful culture.”


French Kiss 2Damon Banks, editor and managing partner at LuxeGetaways

“My favorite go-to movies that I am sure to watch several times in the coming weeks would be: French Kiss, Midnight In Paris, and Under the Tuscan Sun.”


Lost in Translation 2From Tim Ebner, contributing travel writer for Thrillist

“I was supposed to be honeymooning in Japan in April. That trip has been postponed, and it would have been my first trip there! My plan was drinks at the Tokyo Park Hyatt’s New York Bar, just like Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation. I love that movie because it takes you into Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, including karaoke bars, late night bars and eateries and it’s exudes the energy that I imagine and expect Tokyo will give me when I’m finally able to honeymoon there.”


The OUt Of TownersFrom Bijan C. Bayne, contributing travel writer for Trvltrend & JustLuxe

“The original 1970 version of The Out-of-Towners, featuring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, is one of my favorite movies — and a classic.”

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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