Campervan Hugo tells his story: Hi! I’m Hugo – at least that’s what my new owners (Johannes and Birgit) named me in the fall of 2020. I recently turned 6 years old and am an L2H1 Renault Trafic in a vibrant, life-affirming green color. I’m here to tell you all about my van conversion story!

I met my new family in Berlin. The young couple came all the way from Munich to check me out and see if they wanted to adopt me. Well, lucky for me, they signed the contract on the same day! Adoption costs: 9999€ – and I am worth every cent!

Barely a month later (both of them quit their jobs to take care of me full time) we drove to Karlsruhe, where Birgit’s mother and grandma live. It was very nice to meet her relatives and get to know my new extended family.

In the three months that followed, Johannes and Birgit took great care of me and took on a full-time project of van conversion to camper van. Like most people who take on a DIY project, I’m pretty sure they thought everything would be easier than it was. But for anyone else out there who is thinking of a van conversion, read on to learn about their process. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration from my makeover story!

Essential Amenities for my Camper Van Conversion

Allow me to walk you through a few changes that happened during the story of my Renault Trafic conversion into a cozy camper.

1. Insulation Against Heat and Cold

I was insulated with 19mm, 9mm, and 3mm Armaflex as well as sheep’s wool. After lots of research, Birgit and Johannes found out that wool is one of the best options for insulation: it insulates well against heat and cold, does not mold, and is eco-friendly (after all, it grows on sheep!).  So now, I can protect my family from heat and cold.

Johannes hard at work on the insulation

Johannes hard at work on the insulation

2. Click Vinyl Flooring

To create a liveable interior, Johannes and Birgit set about installing chic flooring. Unfortunately, the click vinyl flooring was much trickier than anticipated. Even I know that you should watch a video of how to lay vinyl flooring BEFORE trying to do it!

Birgit's mission: Move the flooring from the green grass to the green camper.

Birgit’s mission: Move the flooring from the green grass to the green camper.

 

Success! Finishing the edge of the vinyl flooring

Success! Finishing the edge of the vinyl flooring

3. A New Side Window and Skylight

In contrast with the difficult flooring installation, it was a snap to cut two new openings for my roof window and side window. That was done in just one day. I’m glad they chose high-quality Dometic windows. They even come with built-in screens and blackout blinds!

Once I got my new side window I really started to feel like a camper van!

Once I got my new side window, I really started to feel like a camper van!

4. Tigerexped Parking Heater for Winter Trips

The two decided early on that they would want to travel with me in the winter since I am perfect for a cozy retreat. For cold-weather trips, I got a parking heater from Tigerexped, which has 2 kilowatts of power. I’m now able to heat the interior from 0 to 20°C (freezing to a comfortable room temperature) in just 10 minutes! They did all the installation themselves, aside from the gas tank tap, which was done by a pair of helpful hands from a local auto repair shop. I very much appreciate it, since the tank is one of my most sensitive components!

Autoterm Air 2D heater from Tigerexped

Autoterm Air 2D heater from Tigerexped

5. Stylish Side and Roof Panels for a Livable Interior

My side panels are made of multiplex panels that were sanded and painted white, plus 4-way stretch felt. Felting was fun for Jo & Bibs, I could tell they enjoyed it! Luckily, felt is a forgiving material, so they didn’t have to be quite as precise as they had to be for other aspects of my van makeover. They simply applied adhesive spray to the Armaflex and pressed the felt on bit by bit. Their oft-praised “secret weapon” was an orange peeler from Birgit’s mother’s kitchen. With it, they could stuff the felt into even the tightest cracks, and now I look nice and neat! 😉

The secret weapon: an orange peeler to help achieve a clean finish on the felt.

The secret weapon: an orange peeler to help achieve a clean finish on the felt.

My ceiling is made of 4mm-thick birch wood. Before installing, it was soaked with oil to prevent mold and keep it in good shape over the next several years. It was the right plan in theory, however, they realized after the fact that they should have used a different type of oil. Unfortunately, my interior still has a distinct smell from the oil (even tho it is intended for living rooms!). I’m still getting used to it, but they would probably recommend a different one. The smell is slowly fading away, and to accelerate the vaporization of the oil, they leave my closet doors open with the windows cracked whenever I’m parked.

Johannes admires my interior. My conversion from van to camper van is coming along!

Johannes admires my interior. My conversion from van to camper van is coming along!

6. Self-Sufficient Power for Camper Van Living

One of my coolest features is the 6 LEDs embedded in my ceiling- The front 3 can be switched on and off independently from the rear 3, and even from 2 different locations. Alternate switching is the keyword here! All in all, they took great care of my electrical system. Especially Jo was very interested in this part of my van conversion, calculating all the cable strengths and figuring out the necessary fuses that I would need. 

Within my cozy cabin, I have a 180Ah AGM battery, a 300-Watt inverter for laptops, a 32-Liter cooler from Mobicool, a submersible pump, various USB chargers, and even a monitor so that Johannes and Birgit can hop in and travel with me while they work remotely.

The electrical heart of Hugo

The electrical heart of Hugo

And guess what – all of these devices are powered by the sun! My owners installed a 360-Watt solar panel on my roof. It’s a standard solar panel like the ones you see on house rooftops. Johannes and I picked it up from a solar builder in the neighboring village. My owners first used industrial glue to attach 4 spoilers to my roof and then screwed the solar panel onto them. The wires run into my interior and connect to the battery. I think it’s great that during my van conversion they figured out how to use the sun to generate green energy – after all, green is my favorite color!

360 W solar system on Hugo's roof

360 W solar system on Hugo’s roof

Update: Unfortunately the glue didn’t stick to the solar panel spoilers. Luckily Johannes and Birgit noticed before it was too late and dismantled the solar panel during their recent vacation in Italy. So for now I don’t have a solar panel on my roof but Johannes and Birgit are working on a solution. Van conversion is a constant process!

In the meantime, I’m using a charge booster to charge the battery while driving. This can be switched on/off by a special switch in the driver’s compartment. Now that my interior battery cannot be loaded by the sun anymore, I’m very glad that this charge booster was installed.

Space-Saving Design Features

My interior living space is really cool and I have to say, very well thought out! It has to be, because as is the case with all van conversion projects, the space is limited: As a typical Renault Trafic before my conversion, I had about 5m² (54 square feet) of space in the living room – and a height of just 140 cm (55 inches). So it’s important to make the most out of every spare millimeter. 

Like most van conversion projects, I am full of hidden features and tons of practical space-saving tricks! Let me take you on a little tour of all the cool things inside 😉:

  • Funky LED sideboard with a corkboard and integrated USB charging station.
  • White cabinet wall with tons of storage space, the cabinet door is also the table. It’s made of beautiful acacia wood – for a camper van like me, fine wood is basically like fine jewelry. The external monitor is tucked behind the cabinet.
  • A camping stove that can be pulled out through a drawer, making it easy to cook outside if weather permits! Underneath that drawer is another drawer. Drawer-inception, so to speak. It serves as an additional area to cut vegetables when cooking.
Kitchen set up in a van conversion project

Drawer inception for expandable space in the kitchen

  • The entire space under the bed can be used for storage. There are 3 heavy-duty drawers + an area with space for either a folding box or a crate of beer. I’d love to say this was planned – but the fact that my humans chose these exact dimensions was pure coincidence.
  • I even have a small sink. The water comes from a 12-liter fresh water tank under the sink, flows through the kitchen faucet, and drains into the 12-liter waste water tank. By the way, the faucet can be pulled outside through the side window and used as an outdoor shower. Ideal after a strenuous hike!
  • The bed is flexible and adjustable, so it can either be used as a bench or a large bed measuring 200cmx125cm (about the size of a Full bed). If you want to sit at the table, the bed can be made into a U-shape and three people can sit.
  • The acacia cabinet door has two drive-in nuts, which allow you to screw in two large threaded bolts with feet to become the table legs. When it’s folded down, the table legs rest on a part of the bed, so it’s super stable.

The Final Touches for my Renault Campervan Conversion

My cozy interior really came together with the addition of the light gray “home-sewn” mattress (well… sewn by Birgit’s aunt – that was a 14-hour sewing marathon!). The white curtains provide privacy and complement the white furniture and the dark brown acacia wood in the kitchen. Artificial ivy hides the electrical cables and creates a homey atmosphere. With the ceiling lights on and a candle lit, I transform into quite a romantic little place! Seeing me now, you would hardly believe that I was once an empty Renault Trafic before my conversion makeover.

Bed arrangement in a camper van conversion project

DIY Van conversion project

Makeover complete! Can you believe how far I’ve come?

What’s Next for Campervan Hugo?

Originally, my new owners budgeted 2 months to convert me from van to campervan. That they overestimated themselves was clear to me from the beginning – but sometimes people have to learn the hard way!

I will probably never become a real full-time camper for the so-called ‘van life’. Even though Johannes and Birgit are very fond of each other, <5m² is a bit small for the long term.

In any case, the two had a great vacation with me this summer. We drove through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy together. I’m not sure what our plans are for next year, but we will definitely go to the mountains for hiking or maybe a snowy getaway. If you’re interested in what the future brings for me, you can follow along at @hugo_campervan on Instagram. Maybe you’ll get inspiration for your own Renault Trafic conversion.

In closing, I just recently overheard a conversation that made me so happy, and I would like to share it with you. Maybe you as (future) van builders or owners see it exactly the same way:

“Hugo is our little second home and the whole world is our backyard!”

DIY Van Conversion

There are a lot of considerations that go into finding and establishing the right career. Often this is about identifying what job meets your highest personal and values-led priorities in life. You may be one of the increasing numbers of people wanting to find a position that sees you making a meaningful impact on the environment. Not just where eco-friendly methods are used but a career where you’re empowered to truly make a difference. 

At the same time, you may want to also take the opportunity to explore more of what the world has to offer. Making connections with other countries and cultures has never been more accessible. As such, you’re likely to be searching for work that involves travel and a job that enables you to travel across the country or internationally in the course of your duties. 

But are there options providing you with the best of both worlds? Let’s take a closer look at how you can identify and pursue a career involving sustainability and travel. 

Sustainability Travel Jobs in Development

As we have reached a point of climate emergency, there is an urgent need for change. This is beginning to occur at the infrastructural level with various civic, private, and scientific fields contributing to developing solutions. This also presents opportunities for enriching jobs that combine sustainability and travel. Many development positions involve spending time in various areas of the country — or even the planet — and applying your expertise to making meaningful change. 

One of the key sectors to engage in this way is urban planning. Many towns, cities, and rural communities have committed to making sustainable alterations. Urban planners are tasked with developing design strategies for both short- and long-term projects aiding revitalization and better health. Sustainability is an increasingly central part of this career path; not only in managing the environmental impact of projects but also in making design choices that reduce pollution and waste. There tend to be opportunities to find work that involves travel, both to find inspiration from other sustainable communities and in moving from project to project. To engage in the field, you’ll generally need a degree in a relevant area — architecture, economics, and sustainability are good options. 

However, if city design isn’t in your wheelhouse you can still pursue development through a career in environmental science. Becoming an ecologist is a great choice as your work with institutes and government agencies will see you traveling to a variety of locations to research ecosystems. Following periods of analysis in the laboratory you can then provide reports on your findings to help address both local and global environmental challenges. As with any science field, you’ll generally be expected to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, in this case, ecology, biology, zoology, or other related areas.  

Work that Involves Travel and Sustainability in the Nonprofit Sector

How to Find a Career That Involves Sustainability and Travel

Find a Career in a Nonprofit that combines Sustainability and Travel

While some sustainability efforts are being made by large corporations and governments this tends to move at a glacial pace. At the moment it seems like dedicated environmentally-focused nonprofit organizations are doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to educating the public and pursuing projects. This means often your best route to a job that involves travel and sustainability is with a nonprofit. Just as volunteering holds travel opportunities, you can adopt paid professional careers with these organizations across the planet. 

While it’s certainly possible to get administrative positions, you’ll tend to find more success with specialized professions. Accountancy, legal expertise, and cybersecurity are common demands. Sustainable nonprofits are also likely to be looking for those with technical skills for hands-on projects like solar electricity installation and community development. When applying for these positions in countries abroad, you’ll also find specialized jobs are often more eligible for visas than those jobs that can be performed by locals.     

It might seem like an insignificant thing, but when you are pitching your skills abroad, you need to make sure you’re mindful of local customs. Australia is one of the common targets for those seeking nonprofit experience but the sustainable travel job market has some specific requirements for resume formatting and standards. You need to adapt your resume for tone — don’t come across as overconfident, extend your 1-page summary to 3-4 pages of high detail, and nix the headshot. Small, culturally relevant considerations help indicate to sustainable nonprofits abroad that you’re respectful of their standards and keen to engage with them.   

Tourism Careers Combining Sustainability and Work that Involves Travel

Eco Tourism offers a job combining sustainability and travel

Eco Tourism offers a job combining sustainability and travel

The tourism sector has always been a good option for work that involves travel. However, it’s only natural that you might have some reservations regarding how jobs here reflect your environmental priorities. After all, tourism is responsible for around 8% of global carbon emissions. The good news is there’s an increasing number of businesses in the travel and hospitality sectors that offer consumers sustainable options through eco-tourism.  

Guiding is a popular choice for careers in ecotourism that combine sustainability and travel. It sees you operating both as a storyteller and environmental educator, helping to solidify tourists’ connection to the natural world and their responsibilities to it. Guides can often find on-the-job training but in ecotourism, it certainly helps if you have knowledge or experience in conservation. Alternatively, you can target hospitality positions in sustainable hotels which are identifiable through apps like Expedia that allow you to search for businesses with eco-friendly practices. While some simply have eco-conscious aspects, others are specifically aimed at providing holistically sustainable travel accommodation.   

Whichever position you pursue, it’s important to remember you’ll be interacting with the public. This means you also need to be committed to practicing COVID-safe protocols such as wearing your mask in public. It’s vital, too, to get a vaccine, which is considered to be safe, having gone through rigorous testing and approval processes. While you may experience some initial side effects, immunization is a tool to keep you, your colleagues, and the general public safe and healthy. It also moves us closer to achieving herd immunity.

Conclusion

Finding a career that blends your sustainability priorities with your desire to travel is more achievable now than at any other time. Sustainable development, the nonprofit sector, and ecotourism are just a few of the current industries you can target. Take time to explore the possibilities and you can find you can make a difference in far-flung destinations. 

The current pandemic has proven tough for passionate travelers. During these times, many people have taken to pandemic-friendly hobbies like hiking or backpacking to satisfy their need for adventure. If you’re looking for ideas for your next trek, want to reminisce about a former adventure, or just love the great outdoors, any one of these great backpacking and hiking movies should be just the ticket. Even if you just want to live vicariously through the main characters, a hiking movie is a great choice– the stories take place in gorgeous locations and usually center around overcoming hardships– a recipe for a great movie night.

So without further ado, here’s a list of the best hiking movies and documentaries for a thrilling experience without leaving your couch. 

1. Mile… Mile and a Half

Set on the John Muir Trail

Mile, Mile & a Half, one of the best hiking movies set on the John Muir Trail
This backpacking documentary depicts a month-long hike on California’s John Muir Trail. The hikers themselves also happen to be professional photographers, so the epic film is also full of California landscape eye-candy. This beautiful hiking movie is a must-watch for anyone who has dreamed of taking a few weeks to go backpacking in nature.

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

2. Tracks

Set in Australia

Tracks, one of the best backpacking movies

This Australian film is inspired by a true adventure: In the late 1970s, a young woman walked across Australia without much more than our dog and four camels. It took eight months and 2,700 kilometers across Australia’s harsh outback to complete the journey. The leading character is cut from a different cloth compared to the heroines of a lot of the other solo female travel movies, and the stunning film adaptation allows you to follow her on a journey that very few people will ever take. 

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

3. Edie

Set in the UK

Edie, one of the best hiking movies, set in the UK

This heartwarming film tells the story of a woman in the sunset years of her life who fulfills a lifelong dream. Instead of going into the retirement home her family plans for her, she decides to go hiking in the Scottish highlands. Even with 80+ years, Edie proves that anything is possible.

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

4. The Way

Set on the Camino del Santiago in Northern Spain

The Way, a classic backpacking movie set on the Camino del Santiago

The Way is the story of a father who walks the Camino del Santiago in honor of his son. Anyone thinking of walking the famous pilgrimage route should catch this hiking movie about backpacking from France to the western coast of Spain. The film will give you a glimpse into the Spanish countryside and the different types of travelers that you are likely to meet on the trail. 

Watch it on Amazon

5. It is the People

Set on the Pacific Crest Trail

It is the People Backpacking Documentary about the Pacific Crest Trail

This is one of the best hiking movies about the Pacific Crest Trail– it’s beautifully shot and masterfully edited. Anyone who dreams of the PCT will love this short documentary about backpacking that depicts the raw experiences and cast of characters you’re likely to meet along this famous west coast trail. The real stories and personalities of the outdoors adventurers will inspire you to plan your own trip as soon as you can.

Watch for free on Youtube

6. Into the Wild

Set in Alaska

Into the Wild, one of the best travel movies about wilderness adventures

This moving film is a visual treat and a beautiful tribute to a man who felt compelled to go off the beaten path and immerse himself in nature. Though the ending is tragic, anyone who hears the call of the wild can relate to the spirit of the main character and his search to discover the natural beauty of this earth. In addition to being a gorgeous film, it also features one of the best travel-themed soundtracks of all time. It’s a classic backpacking movie that is a must-watch for any true explorer and is available on Netflix.

Watch it on Netflix

7. Wildlike

Set in Alaska

This indie adventure film set in the Alaskan wilderness has won multiple awards at film festivals. The wild Alaskan frontier serves as the background, and reflects the personal hardships that the main characters are trying to overcome. It’s the perfect film for anyone who likes the great outdoors but also wants the watch a character-driven survival story.

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

8. Wild

Set on the Pacific Crest Trail

Solo female backpackers everywhere have been inspired by this movie. Here is the true story of Sheryl Strayed, who embarked on the Pacific Crest Trail after a deep heartbreak. Besides the beautiful images of the Western U.S. landscapes, we love the adventure film for its depictions of everyday struggles that every long-haul backpacker has experienced.

Watch it on Amazon

9. Jungle

Set in the Amazon Rainforest

Jungle - A survivalist movie set in the Amazon Jungle

Based on a true story, Daniel Ratcliffe plays the main character who has to survive in the Amazon Rainforest after getting lost during a backpacking adventure with his friends. Hopefully, none of us will have to experience the near-death experiences depicted in this survivalist film, but from the safety of your own couch, you can watch how this ultimate backpacking adventure goes down. This is one of the best hiking movies for anyone who wants to see the resilience of the human spirit go head to head with the raw power of nature.

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

10. Do More With Less

Set on the Pacific Crest Trail

This backpacking documentary shows short interviews with over 100 hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Some of them have been returning to the trail year after year, some are doing the trail for the first time in their life. The hiking movie captures the sense of community on the Pacific Crest Trail and the inner passion for the great outdoors. Plus, the genuine and inspiring people depicted will give you hope in humanity. Once you see the film, you’ll probably start planning your PCT trip.

Watch for free on Vimeo

11. Touching the Void

Set in the Peruvian Andes

Touching the void - one of the best hiking movies set in the Peruvian Andes

Touching the Void is another epic backpacking and adventure film that is based on a true survival story. Touching the Void recreates a harrowing trek in the Peruvian Andes, where two friends have to figure out how to overcome the impossible.

Watch it on Amazon

12. A Walk in the Woods

Set on the Appalachian Trail

A Walk in the Woods - a classic hiking movie set on the Appalachian Trail

There are a few hiking movies about the Appalachian Trail, but this classic is one of our favorites. The charming story features a stellar cast that includes Nick Nolte, Robert Redford, and Emma Thompson. What more could you want out of a hiking movie?

Watch it on Amazon

Even the biggest homebodies have started to get cabin fever after a year of this pandemic, in which global travel seems like a thing of the past. If you’re suffering from a serious case of wanderlust, trying out virtual travel experiences during quarantine might be the best thing to do right now. Although flights are canceled and borders are closed, you can still see the world through your computer screen. Here are some of the best virtual travel experiences to help scratch your travel itch during quarantine.

1. Explore The World Through Webcam

With a near-endless supply of live stream webcams throughout the world, you can virtually travel just about anywhere. Sites such as SkylineWebCams offer hundreds of incredible viewing experiences, so just pick where you want to go. Webcams can be an incredible way to explore far-flung reaches of the earth that you might never get a chance to visit, such as the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway, where you can live stream the Aurora Borealis. These cameras reveal magnificent landscapes and stunning night skies – you can almost feel the chill from here.

Live stream the Northern Lights over Lofoten Islands in Norway

Live stream the Northern Lights over Lofoten Islands in Norway

2. Embark on a Virtual Roadtrip with Google Maps

If you’re an engine nut then travel restrictions may have seriously ground your gears. Road tripping is a timeless travel experience. From the highways of America to the back roads of Scotland, exploring a country by vehicle is a great way to get off the beaten track. Thanks to Google’s incredible efforts mapping the world through “street view” you can take a virtual road trip. Drop the pin anywhere from Siberia to South Dakota to explore the streets.

3. Take An Immersive Jungle Tour

Take a deep dive into the natural world through audio-visual virtual travel experiences during quarantine. Travel Colombia has created a wonderfully rich and sensational jungle journey, exploring the birdlife of their deep forests through sight and sound. “By downloading the accompanying list, you can test your ornithological know-how and see which species you can spot,” says Dominick Cavazos, a travel writer at Last Minute Writing and Draft Beyond. “The wildlife on offer is astounding.”

Virtual travel in the Colombian Jungles during quarantine

Travel virtually in the jungles of Colombia during quarantine

4. Hit The Club

If virtual bird watching doesn’t get your heart rate jumping, maybe you’d rather explore the underground club scene of cities across the world. Berlin has been the home of hard-hitting techno for decades, and night owls all over the world are missing their dose of dancing. Fortunately, virtual club experiences can bring the latest DJs into your living room. You can even experience the coming-of-age experience, getting rejected from superclub Berghain in virtual reality for a dose of realism.

5. Catch a Virtual Tour of World-Famous Museums

“Museums and art galleries have responded with appropriate creativity to the unfolding pandemic and many are now offering valuable virtual experiences of their collections,” says Alanna Morey, a lifestyle blogger at Writinity and Researchpapersuk. Traditionally, you might have queued for an hour or more to get into the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but now a virtual tour can be loaded up in seconds.

Virtual travel and visiting museums during quarantine

Take a virtual tour of the Van Gogh Museum during quarantine

6. Embrace Yellowstone’s Force of Nature

Exploring America’s national parks could take a lifetime, but fortunately, the pandemic has brought us a few shortcuts. Virtual tours of these parks have been made available free online and can bring you up close and personal with the natural wonders they contain. Yellowstone National Park, for example, provides POV virtual travel experience videos through many of its most famous sights – without the crowds!

7. Explore Architectural Wonders

Step inside some of the world’s most fantastic buildings, without even taking a stride. These virtual architectural tours offer viewers immersive experiences filled with facts and jaw-dropping sights, proving a real insight into the history and cultural impact of these architectural creations. One of the great joys of travel is walking through a new city gazing at centuries’ worth of culture accumulated in the architecture – now you can embrace this experience in the virtual age.

The Future of Virtual Travel Experiences During Quarantine

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can explore the world from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re missing the hustle and bustle of underground clubs or the vast quiet of a National Park, virtual tours can take you anywhere you can imagine – and beyond. A virtual travel experience during quarantine might quench your thirst for travel in surprising ways!

For avid travelers, the pandemic has been tough. Maybe you had to cancel a trip that you’ve been planning for ages, or maybe you’ve had to repeatedly silence that inner voice begging you to pack your bags and explore a new place. During these times, many travelers and backpackers are looking for other ways to soothe their wanderlust. Some are using the time to document their past travels, some are making extensive plans for life after the pandemic, and some are turning to travel movies, podcasts, and books to keep their hope alive!

If you’re looking to experience travel without leaving your couch, here is our round-up of the best movies about travel and backpacking. Sometimes a travel movie is just the ticket, whether you want to relive a past adventure or live vicariously through the characters as they journey through beautiful places.

The Before Series

Set in Vienna, Paris, and Greece

For single travelers, isn’t it secretly the dream to meet your soulmate on the road? Just us? Regardless, this trilogy of movies is set in a different European country each time and tells the story of two people from different places who are drawn to each other over the span of decades. These award-winning movies are not only set in stunning locations, they are a profound study on the highs and lows of human connection.

Before Sunrise: Watch it on Amazon

Before Sunset: Watch it on Amazon

Before Midnight: Watch it on Amazon

Motorcycle Diaries

Set in South America

Responsible for launching thousands of backpacking journeys through South America, Motorcycle Diaries is one of our all-time favorite travel movies. This one is a classic, whether you want to relive your personal travel experiences or want to experience the gorgeous countryside of Argentina vicariously through the antics of the two main characters.

Watch it on Netflix

The Darjeeling Limited

Set in India

Wes Anderson always delivers on the visuals, and this movie about three brothers on a train adventure in India is no different. It’s a travel-themed, smart comedy. Don’t blink, or you might miss a visual joke or a brilliant moment of dialog. A classic we could watch again and again.

Watch it for free on YouTube

The Way

Set in Northern Spain

The story of a father who walks the Camino del Santiago in honor of his son. Anyone thinking of walking the famous pilgrimage route should catch this movie about backpacking from France to the western coast of Spain. The film will give you a glimpse into the countryside and the different types of travelers that you are likely to meet on the trail. 

Watch it on Amazon

Into the Wild

Set in Alaska

Despite its tragic ending (is it a spoiler if it was based on a true story?), this gorgeous movie pays tribute to a man with an extreme need to get off the beaten path. One of the best travel-themed soundtracks of all time, this ultimate wanderlust movie is a must-see for any true explorer.

Watch it on Netflix

Roman Holiday

Set in Rome, Italy

The glamour and timeless charm of old Hollywood set in the dynamic city of Rome. A dream combination of acting talent featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck with an endearing storyline.

Watch it on Amazon

The Beach

Set in Thailand

No matter how many times we rewatch this classic backpacking movie, there’s just something about Leo wandering along Khao San Road that brings us back to our adventures in Thailand. Maybe it’s the fact that most Thai hostels have travel movie nights featuring The Beach? Either way, there is just something about the raw scenes and commentary about backpacking culture that keeps us coming back for more.

Watch it on Amazon

Tracks

Set in Australia

This ultimate backpacking movie is based on a true story: In the mid-1970s, young Robyn Davidson walked across the Australian continent, accompanied only by her dog and four camels. The journey was 2,700 kilometers long and lasted eight months. Set in the stunning yet rugged Australian Outback, this ultimate solo female travel movie allows you to follow along on the journey that few will ever take. 

Watch for free on Amazon

Lost in Translation

Set in Japan

This movie is able to perfectly capture the disorienting yet addicting feeling of being a fish out of water during your travels. Its accolades should be reason enough to catch this quirky travel movie: 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (Sofia Coppola), and Academy Award Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bill Murray), & Best Director (Sofia Coppola).

Watch for free with Amazon Prime

Out of Africa

Set in Kenya

This classic romantic drama is based on a true story, and features young Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the leading roles. With its gorgeous scenery and thrilling events, it’s a way to travel to Kenya from the comfort of your sofa.

Watch it on Amazon

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Set in India

Filmed in beautiful Udaipur, this British travel movie follows a group of retirees who are looking for adventure. The film is packed with stunning scenes that capture the beautiful chaos of India and has a charming cast of characters (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, and Maggie Smith).

Watch it on Amazon

Wild

Set on the Pacific Crest Trail

The backpacking movie that inspired solo female travelers everywhere. This is the true story of hard-core Sheryl Strayed who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail after experiencing deep heartbreak. We love it for the beautiful scenery of the U.S. West Coast and the depictions of familiar struggles that every long-haul backpacker will know all too well.

Watch it on Amazon

Under the Tuscan Sun

Set in Italy

Nowadays, the premise is a bit of a cliché (a woman in crisis travels to a foreign country for adventure and learns a lot about herself in the process), but Under the Tuscan Sun is a classic! The movie still holds up today because of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside and the warmth of Italian culture that can be felt in every scene. A must-watch for anyone who yearns for Italy.

Watch it on Amazon

Amelie

Set in Paris, France

Anyone who loves Paris has to dive into the wonderful world of Amelie. It is fantasy surrealism set in an idealistic version of Paris. Watching this movie is like curling up with a nostalgic childhood book, and the city of Paris and its people drive the story forward.

Watch it on Amazon

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Set in Iceland, Himalayas, and more

This inspiring film is about a man who overcomes his resistance to love and adventure. The story takes place in many gorgeous places on earth, but it’s the attitude and perspective embodied by the main character that has motivated many to get out of their comfort zone and see the world.

Watch it on Amazon

A Walk in the Woods

Set on the Appalachian Trail

This classic backpacking movie is set on the famous Appalachian Trail. It also has a star-studded cast with lovably grumpy Nick Nolte, forever-old-soul Robert Redford, and effortlessly charming Emma Thompson. Need we say more?

Watch it on Amazon

Copenhagen

Set in Copenhagen, Denmark

An indie film and the recipient of multiple international film festival awards, Copenhagen is a coming-of-age story set in, you guessed it, Copenhagen. With a compelling story about the main character backpacking throughout Europe, and the gorgeous city of Copenhagen as the backdrop, you’ll get a serious dose of Scandinavian vibes.

Watch for free on Amazon

Roma

Set in Mexico City, Mexico

This Oscar winner (Best Cinematography) depicts the raw experiences of the director’s life in Mexico City. It’s a true story about overcoming adversity and finding beauty in imperfect situations.

Watch it on Netflix

Midnight in Paris

Set in Paris, France

A surreal fantasy story about Paris and all of its famous residents. This quirky Woody Allen movie lead by Owen Wilson is highly recommended for anyone who has been to Paris or is dreaming of the day when they can visit for themselves. And with an Academy Award, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, you can be sure it’s worth your while!

Watch it on Amazon

Eat, Pray, Love

Set in Italy, India, and Bali

We know, we know, you’ve already seen it. But what travel movie list would be complete without this mainstream classic? Although Julia Roberts wasn’t our favorite leading lady in a travel movie, we can’t ignore the fact that the places depicted in this movie (Italy, India, and Bali) gave us serious inspiration for future travels.

Watch it on Amazon

More movies set in amazing locations

While the plot doesn’t necessarily focus on backpacking or travel, these movies are set in gorgeous places around the globe. ‘Travel’ vicariously by immersing yourself in the characters and settings:

  1. Chocolat – set in rural France
  2. French Kiss – set in Paris, France
  3. Letters to Juliet – set in Verona & Tuscany, Italy
  4. Lion – set in Australia and India
  5. The Sound of Music – set in Austria
  6. A Good Year – set in Provence, France
  7. 7 Years in Tibet – set in China & Tibet
  8. Endless Summer – set in surfing locations around the world
  9. In Bruges – set in Belgium
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople – set in New Zealand
  11. Y tu Mama Tambien – set in Mexico
  12. The Lives of Others – set in Berlin, Germany
  13. The Bourne Trilogy – set across Europe
  14. My Life in Ruins – set in Greece