travel documentaries

The Best Travel Documentaries

We totally get it – our current world climate has us all staying home, staying safe, and longing to get out of the house and get back to travel. As the world begins to slowly open back up, people are beginning to start travel planning for the future. With some of us sitting at home with nothing but time on our hands, it’s no wonder our dream vacations seem just out of reach. If your new hobbies or long term plans include getting out and experiencing the world, you’ve probably been doing your very best travel research! If you’re like the millions of other Americans who’ve decided to pick up a new skill or dive into a hobby during these unprecedented times, becoming a travel enthusiast may not be such a stretch. We’ve put together a list of our favorite travel documentaries to give you a little inspiration when putting together that much needed, well planned international vacation!

The Best Travel Documentaries – Shows to Binge Before You Go

Even if big travel plans aren’t in your future, travel documentaries and series aren’t just for trip planners! Watching these inspiring, educational, and usually, fun shows is a great way to gain a little bit of a worldly perspective. They’re also a great way to learn about travel hacks, cultural preferences and customs, and discover places that may or may not pique your interest. If you’re going to travel, you’ll be spending your hard-earned money on your trip. It’s ok to make sure you’re really sure you want to visit a location before diving in headfirst. Below is a list of some of our favorite travel documentaries and a few helpful things you’ll get from each of them.

  1. Street food – Experiencing and enjoying the delicious food of any region you visit is oftentimes one of the highlights of your travel. To some seasoned travelers, street food is the go-to when it comes to eating on a budget while really enjoying cultural diversity. To many, food brings people together, and understanding its place in any culture or society is a great way to better experience your visit. Netflix’s Street Food, while still relatively new, found some seasoned and well-loved chefs in each featured city to help you really dive in. 
travel series and travel documentaries
Many travel series and travel documentaries focus on the various foods of a region or culture. Good food can tell you a lot about the people who reside in any given area!
  1. Life in a Day – A YouTube exclusive, director Kevin MacDonald and his crew sifted through over 80,000 entries for his series on daily life in cultures throughout the world! His first round of mini documentaries started in 2010, but he’s revamping and starting a new 2020 project! Catch a glimpse of life all over the world and experience it through the eyes of locals!
  2. Endless Summer – An oldie but a goodie, this documentary follows two young surfers as they travel the world looking for their next big wave. It’s not just about surfing though, and you’ll catch a glimpse of tropical paradise, interesting characters, and boundless opportunity for adventure across the globe!
  3. Tales by Light – A fun spin on the travel documentary series, this particular show follows photographers around the world. It features a new photographer each episode, and you’ll see nature, architecture, art, animals, people, events, and so much more. This series delves into more complex issues while showing off the breathtaking work of photographers, and explains why they do what they do. 
traveling photographers
Traveling photographers and journalists sometimes get to experience the world in it’s quietest, most intimate times. Some of the series listed follow these such travel professionals from spot to spot to experience their work!
  1. No Reservations – Anthony Bourdain left behind a legacy: A legacy that leaned heavily on food’s purpose and role in civilization. He traveled the world showing viewers how to love food most, and become fully immersed in the lives and experiences of the cultures who made them. If No Reservations is up your alley, be sure to check out his other series, too.
  2. Virunga – Centered around Virunga National Park located in the Congo, this documentary features one of the biggest conservational struggles in this region of the world. You’ll see the fight for the mountain gorillas, and a glimpse into life among those living there.
  3. Departures – This series follows two Canadian friends as they feel suddenly inspired to travel the world and seek out adventure. It depicts the ups and downs, breathtaking landscapes, hidden cultural gems, and even the cons and struggles international travel on a budget can bring travelers. The best part? They show you a pretty wide array of locations from all over the world so you’ll get a pretty good dose of variety to help you plan your trip.

There are too many awesome series and travel documentaries to list in such a small space, but we’re sure these will get you started. If you haven’t had a taste for travel inspiration, we’re sure some of these will kick start your excitement! While picking out your dream destinations, be sure you’re checking out travel document requirements to get the ball rolling. If you don’t already have your passport, start by ordering a certified copy of your birth certificate and submitting your application. Once you’ve started there, check if your destination requires travel visas, or any other documentation to enter and exit the country. After the official stuff is taken care of, be sure to tell us all about your exciting experience! Happy watching, and better yet, safe travels!

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