Travel Inspiration from Films

Blue Crush surfingWhile travel is my true passion, I’m also a fan of film. Whether it’s visiting the cinema to  see the latest blockbuster or watching an unhealthy amount of movies through LoveFilm or on Netflix, films are my favourite form of escapism.

Sometimes these two passions intertwine and a cinematic journey actually inspires me to want to visit somewhere; often destinations that were never really on my radar before. Film most definitely has the capacity to provide travel inspiration. Here are some of the flicks that have either created or increased my fascination with certain places or with travel in general.

Blue Crush – Hawaii

During my teens, I was absolutely obsessed with surfing. I’d never actually been surfing (this didn’t happen until a few years ago), but the whole ‘scene’ seemed so cool to me – from the fitness and fashion to the beach lifestyle and alternative music. This was exacerbated by the fact that my boyfriend at the time was a surfer. Seeing Blue Crush was a real life changer for me. This was the first time I started thinking about how fun and liberating it would be to go travelling and see more of the world. Have you ever had that exhilarating feeling where you know you really want to do something amazing, but it’s teamed with a wave of frustration at the fact that you’re not actually doing that yet? These were the kind of mixed feelings I experienced. 

Blue Crush was released in 2002 when I was around 16/17. The plot centres around a local surfer girl in Oahu, Hawaii, called Anne Marie Chadwick (Kate Bosworth) and her two friends Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Senoe Lake). After a near-fatal surfing accident, Anne Marie receives a wild card entry into a prestigious international surfing competition at a famous North Shore surf spot, Pipeline, known for its huge waves and lethal sharp reef. The film follows her training, set-backs and life occurrences in the run-up to the challenge. Besides the beautiful beach scenery and incredible action shots, that really embroil you in the film, the soundtrack is another plus. One of my favourite tracks of all time, Destiny by Zero 7 is featured along with a great lead track by Lenny Kravitz (If I Could Fall In Love).

The Beach film

The Beach – Thailand

Such an amazing film, The Beach was responsible for transforming the idyllic island of Ko Phi Phi into a tourist hot spot. While the island has probably lost its charm as an unspoiled gem by now, its azure allure in this film was enough to make me dream of travelling to such beautiful paradise islands. The fact that Leo is so easy on the eye naturally added to the appeal.

Based on a novel of the same name by Alex Garland, this iconic film (directed by Danny Boyle and released in 2000) manages to take you on a real roller coaster ride of emotions. Lovely Leo plays Richard – a solo traveller who we first see navigating the chaotic streets of Bangkok before heading back to his hostel that’s crawling with cockroaches. He meets the rather disturbed Daffy (Robert Carlyle) who talks about a perfect hidden beach and goes on to leave a map with Richard after committing suicide in a gory manner. Richard brings Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and her boyfriend Etienne (Guillaume Canet) on board to try and reach the island where this mysterious and spectacularly stunning beach is said to be. After a challenging trip they reach the destination and are welcomed into a small community of fellow travellers. All is well until it isn’t and what seems like the most perfect place in the world eventually becomes a living nightmare. 

vicky cristina barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Barcelona

My favourite Woody Allen film and one of my overall favourite movies actually is Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Brimming with humour, romance, sexiness and an abundance of gorgeous scenery (Javier Bardem included) around Barcelona, this film features an exciting contrast of characters enjoying a sultry summer in this captivating Catalan city. Barcelona has been on my bucket list for a long time and this film just made me want to visit even more.

The plot of this romantic comedy follows two American friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who spend July and August in Barcelona with distant relatives of Vicky’s. While Vicky is engaged and is a straight-laced, practical person with her feet placed firmly on the ground, Cristina has a bohemian soul yearning for that ‘something’ she hasn’t quite found yet. At a gallery opening one evening, Cristina notices an intriguing man – Juan Antonio Gonzalo (Javier Bardem) – wandering around and inquires about him. On learning about his fiery former relationship that allegedly resulted in a stabbing, she becomes even more interested. That evening, she and Vicky are dining when Juan approaches their table inviting them to spend a weekend with him. A number of love triangles ensue. 

 What are your top films for inspiring travel? Have you ever watched a movie and became fascinated by somewhere new?






  1. March 21, 2014 / 17:45

    Weirdly one of my old geography lecturers was an extra in Blue Crush! I’ve never seen it but do love the look of Hawaii so might have to look it out.

    Mine would be Amelie for Paris, Lost in Translation for Tokyo, In Bruges for Bruges and Indiana Jones for Petra in Jordan!
    Lucy recently posted..In pictures: Fishing boats in Essaouira harbourMy Profile

    • March 23, 2014 / 12:59

      Hi Lucy. I love all of the films you mentioned, especially Indiana Jones. It was actually In Bruges that inspired my trip to Bruges a few years ago and Amelie is just the most gorgeous film ever on so many levels.
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  2. Robert White-Harvey
    March 24, 2014 / 04:42

    Hi Alison, Hi Lucy
    Movies have always moved me to want to see distant places. After I saw Peter Weir’s “Gallipoli” I had to go to Gallipoli, Turkey (duing Anzac week, of course). “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” led to many months in Prague (although the film wasn’t actually shot there). One of my favourites though, was American director John Sayles’ “Lone Star” (1999). It is an obscure and complex mystery set in southwestern Texas along the Mexican border. Sayles is a great writer who writes screenplays for other movies in order to raise money for his own films.
    It can work the opposite way, however, with movies making a place look so bad that you don’t want to see a place. While Clint Eastwood’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” drew millions of tourists to Savannah, his film “Gran Torino” would scare anyone away from visiting Detroit.
    Rob W-H

    • March 24, 2014 / 10:05

      Hi Rob, thanks for giving me some new films to add to the list! Haven’t seen any of the ones you mentioned apart from Gran Torino (which I loved by the way!). It’s interesting to think about how films potentially have the power to deter people from visiting as well.
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