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The 6 Best Film-Inspired Travel Destinations

The 6 Best Film-Inspired Travel Destinations

Midnight in Paris (film)

I remember it so clearly. After a long night of connecting flights, trains and an expensive taxi that eventually led to my hostel, I arrived. I stepped out onto the street in daylight and was finally there. I was actually standing there and New York City was all around me.

Everywhere looked exactly as it was depicted in the films I adored: the iron fire escapes, hanging street lights, honking, yelling, smoke billowing from the sewer, a sign that read, “Pizza & Coffee $2”. It was one week before New Year’s Eve and the air was too cold to be called crisp. I grinned, punched my gloved hands into my jacket pockets and walked.

It was alarming how much everything looked so familiar. Our favourite movies mythologise places so well. Not only because we associate them with the joy and comfort of the characters who live there, but the fact that it’s a life we could live for ourselves.

For me, there’s no bigger travel inspiration than a really well done film, the destination that it occupies, and the message that it sends.

#1 Midnight In Paris

'Midnight in Paris'
Image: Sony Pictures Classics

Half of Paris’ allure lies in its long artistic history. And no film catches this longing for the Paris of yore better than Midnight In Paris. It was Hemingway’s moveable feast, and it feels almost always perfect, admired in the rain, snow, and sunshine.

Realising that right now is just as good, if not better, than any time before it is a pretty powerful message. One that should ring quite true to any traveller. All of Europe is so steeped in history that it feels almost impossible to tackle it all. But you can always try. Make your own mark on history while you’re at it.

#2 Into The Wild

'Into the Wild'
Image: Paramount Vantage

The book and subsequent film documenting the tragically short life of vagabond and relentless explorer Christopher McCandless has caused countless travellers to search for a life off the grid.

As viewers, the Alaska that McCandless pursues becomes the one that we search for. Uninhabited, sprawling and wild. Despite the clear message that his tale is a cautionary one, it’s hard not to idolise the serene nature he holds so dear.

And it’s not just Alaska that reigns front and centre in the film. The journey takes us through California, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest — an America focused on the raw landscape.

#3 The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'
Image: 20th Century Fox

When I was in Iceland, I remember being shocked at the sheer number of people who had packed their rucksacks and made their way to the very northern, very isolated country of Iceland solely because they watched this film, where it doubles for places like Greenland and Yemen.

It sure did put a very small country on the map. When it came out, it felt like we’d never considered travelling to Iceland, yet there it was, Walter Mitty riding his skateboard through it. The film made small, unheard of towns like SeyðisfjörðurHveradalir, Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur must-see destinations.

Much like Into The Wild, Stiller’s search for adventure was infectious and one watch makes it necessary to visit.

#4 Tracks

Tracks movie
Image: The Weinstein Company

Exploring the ravages of nature isn’t just for men, thank you very much. While Robyn Davidson’s trip from Alice Springs to the Pacific Ocean is a remarkable story, watching the biographical film seems much more about the beauty of the landscape than the triumph of journeying through it.

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Alex looking off towards the beach in the Gold Coast

While the bright red, unforgiving Earth, creepy wildlife and wide expanses of desert should seem off-putting, they’re too beautiful to remain so. In fact, the film makes them all the more alluring.

#5 Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Jason Segel in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'
Dude, literally just turn around and you’ll be fine. Image: Universal Pictures

Watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall makes you realise that there’s no better place to cure a broken heart or simply manage your stress than Hawaii. Mostly because, no matter how much wailing you do, the sun will still shine brightly, the surf will still swell, and the people will always be super lovely. It’s just a matter of how long it will take you to fully appreciate that.

Lucky for us, as viewers, we get it. And the indifference that develops into admiration for the main character only endears us to the place more. In fact, if it’s sun, surf and top-notch people that help you reset, the Philippines, Fiji, Bali will all do the trick, too.

#6 Every Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen Film

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Image: Dualstar / Tapestry Films

If these are your favourite films, boy are you in for an adventure. Rome, Paris, London, Sydney, the Bahamas, New York City, Utah. So little time, so much to do.

(Lead image: Sony Pictures Classics)

Check out Qantas flights and begin your next adventure.

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