Many of us live vicariously through travel books and travel movies. We love hearing about other people’s adventures, and we often use them as inspiration for our own travels. When we think about the best travel books, we dream of the travel adventures that await us.
The transformative journey a reader takes through these pages often lives on in their memory. There is something about being transported somewhere new and seeing things with fresh eyes while learning lessons along every step of your journey.
The following list of travel movies and travel books forever changed the way I travel.
1) Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society (Movie & Book)
I first read the book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows when it came out in 2008, and I was utterly mesmerized by it. The Netflix movie followed in 2018, and after watching it with my husband, we added the island of Guernsey to our coast of Normandy vacation that we took in 2019.
The movie was filmed in North Devon, and Bristol, UK, not Guernsey, but the book was so descriptive that I knew I wanted to see the actual island of Guernsey.
Guernsey turned out to be an extraordinary island, and we loved every minute of our time there. So if you are looking for an island escape with plenty of history and incredible hiking, I highly recommend Guernsey.
2) The Winemaker’s Wife (Book)
While I was on vacation with my husband and two sons in Normandy in 2019, the Winemaker’s Wife came out and I devoured it within days! We had planned to spend a few days in Champagne, specifically Epernay, and once I started reading this novel I could not put it down. The novel is set in the Champagne vineyards of Northern France and depicts the story of Champagne house owners that had vital roles in the Résistance.
Reading this novel helped me get through a couple of days of jetlag at the beginning of our vacation and by the time we arrived in Champagne, I was just enthralled with the city of Epernay. The wide streets are full of Champagne houses, the beautiful downtown area with the large fountain and delightful french restaurants. The city of Epernay is a magnificent sight.
3) All The Light We Cannot See (Book and soon to be a movie)
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was set in the French coastal town of St Malo during WWII. I read this book in 2014, long before we started planning our epic WWII-inspired vacation along the Normandy Coast.
The vivid storyline and the detail the author used to describe the city of St Malo stayed with me for many years, and it was an easy decision to add it to our travel itinerary in 2019.
The tourism office in St Malo offers a map of locations described in the book, and I enjoyed strolling through the city within the rampart walls to find them. The city was almost entirely destroyed by bombs in WWII but was rebuilt to look exactly as it did in the late 1930s.
All The Light We Cannot See is being made into a movie by Netflix and is currently being cast as of this publishing date. I am not sure if they will be filming on location, but you can bet that I’ll go back to St Malo to check it out if they do!
4) Dunkirk (Book and Movie)
The movie Dunkirk is based upon the novel The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord. The Battle of Dunkirk was a significant World War II battle that took place in May and June 1940.
After seeing the movie, my husband and I knew we wanted to visit Dunkirk, France. It ended up being the first stop on our travel itinerary in 2019 along the Normandy Coast.
The town is small, but there are several museums related to WWII and memorials to those who lost their lives in that battle. The beaches along the English Channel are also beautiful, and we were able to see remnants of bunkers from WWII when we walked on them in 2019.
5) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Book and Movie)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt is set in Savannah, Georgia. I read the book in 1995, about a year after it was published, and I was completely fascinated by it. The movie came out in 1997, and I watched it several times after the book.
We made a day trip to Savannah in 2010 while on vacation in nearby Hilton Head Island. I can see why it is called the most haunted city in America. The book and movie are both very descriptive about Savannah’s history and its hauntingly beautiful homes that still stand today.
The city is full of incredible architecture, colorful gardens everywhere you turn, and plenty of history with tours available by trolley, foot or carriage. If you are looking for a charming and historic city to visit in the United States, I highly recommend a day trip to Savannah.
6) Excess Baggage (Movie)
I watched the travel movie Excess Baggage way back in 1997, and I had wanted to go to the Jasper Park Lodge ever since. It took me over twenty years, but finally, we made it there in the summer of 2021.
I’m not sure that I would recommend watching this movie now as the acting is a bit cheesy, and the plotline is pretty predictable. However, I was in my early twenties when I watched it, and at that time, I thought it was the most fabulous movie ever.
The Jasper Park Lodge is located in Alberta, Canada, and it is a stunning lodge surrounded by mountains and lakes. So it’s no wonder that the movie chose to film there. It is also no wonder that I wanted to visit it, even after all these years.
The Jasper Park Lodge has some great packages available if you want an incredible destination or family adventures in the Canadian Rockies.
7) Before Sunset (Movies)
Before Sunset is the second movie in the series, the first movie Before Sunrise was set in Vienna. Before Sunset is set entirely in Paris, the opening bookstore scenes were filmed on the Left Bank.
Paris is an amazing city with so much to see and do. The architecture, food, wine, shopping, it’s just incredible. I visited for the first time in 2002 and then again with my husband and my first son in 2013. I’m not sure that it will ever be topped as my favorite big city to visit.
The restaurants were excellent, the wine was fantastic (although French wines are always excellent), and we loved having afternoon drinks at cafes along the Seine River. So if you only have time for one quick trip this year, make it to Paris.
8) Under the Tuscan Sun (Movie and Book)
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a book about her experience restoring an old villa in Tuscany. The movie was released in 2003, and I have probably watched it at least a dozen times.
The landscape in the movie is breathtaking, and the villa in question is gorgeous. I visited Tuscany for the first time in 2017 with my husband and two young boys, and I still, to this day, vividly remember waking up and opening the window shutters and seeing that epic Tuscan view.
It was a wonderful trip with plenty of fantastic wine and food. We stayed at an Agriturismo on the outskirts of Siena that was also an organic winery. Our experience in Tuscany was exceptional.
9) A Good Year (Movie and Book)
A Good Year is a book by Peter Mayle about an Englishman who inherits his uncle’s vineyard in Provence, France. The movie came out in 2006, and my in-laws took my husband and me to Provence for the first time in 2010.
I had listened to my in-law’s talk for years about their love for Provence, and when I finally traveled there, I instantly fell in love. We have been back three more times since that first trip, and I still cannot get enough of the area.
The food, wine, scenery and relaxed lifestyle is so appealing to me. If you are looking for a beautiful place to travel to in France, I would recommend Provence in a heartbeat!
10) An Unfinished Life (Movie and Book)
An Unfinished Life is a movie released in 2005 about an older man whose estranged daughter and granddaughter visit. The movie’s setting is rural Wyoming, but it was actually filmed in Ashcroft, Savona and Kamloops, BC.
While this movie didn’t inspire me to travel to Kamloops, Jennifer Lopez rented a house in my neighbourhood during filming and friends of mine own that house now.
Many movies filmed in and around Kamloops depict another city, but in my opinion, we have a pretty epic landscape.
11) Moulin Rouge (Movie)
Moulin Rouge is a 2001 movie set in Paris about love, lust and music. I was obsessed with this movie when it first came out, and I remember distinctly thinking that I wanted to go to Paris to see all of the places they filmed.
I visited Paris on a solo trip in 2002, and while I didn’t get to visit all of the places from the movie, I did have dinner and watched the show at Moulin Rouge.
It was a unique experience, and I loved Paris even more after that trip. If you are looking for an excuse to visit Paris, see Moulin Rouge! It’s one of my favorite movies, and Montmarte is a special part of Paris.
12) The Holiday (Movie)
The Holiday is my absolute favorite Christmas movie of all time. I lived in Los Angeles for five years before the film was released, but it inspired me to join Home Exchange, a travel service similar to the one depicted.
I have done several home exchanges, and I love this way of traveling. It is such a great way to feel like a local.
Los Angeles and the beautiful Cotswolds are the towns in which The Holiday was set. The Cotswolds part of the movie plot was filmed in the county of Surrey in the UK, and while I have not made it there yet, it is high on my travel list of places to visit.
There you have it, ten travel books and movies that have inspired my travels over the years. Do any of these inspire you to travel?
I always say, “there is a book for everything.” Travel books and travel movies can undoubtedly inspire a trip, but it’s important to remember there will never be another first-time experience quite like the real thing.
What travel book or travel movie inspired your most recent trip? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!