Documentary films often provide a unique window into someone else’s experiences. Documentaries that are focused on travel and exploration can be a great source of inspiration for many of us because they either showcase the intense beauty of various regions around the world and/or because they grant us access to the human joys and struggles of exploring a new place. If you want to unleash your wanderlust, check out the five documentaries below — each of which showcases travel and exploration in a unique way.
Meru explores the journey of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk (three prolific climbers) as they scale the Sharks Fin on Mount Meru in the Himalayas. The uniquely difficult terrain proves itself to be a worthy adversary to these seasoned climbers and serves as a test of both resourcefulness and will. While this isn’t a traditional travel documentary, its core lies in the heart of exploration and perseverance. Any avid climber will likely find this film inspiring when planning their next adventure.
PEDAL THE WORLD (2015)
Pedal The World focuses on German filmmaker Felix Starlack as he cycles his way through 22 countries in one year. Felix’s 18,000 kilometer journey took him through several countries in Europe and Asia, as well as portions of New Zealand and the United States. Watching Felix’s struggles as he cycles through the world can be difficult at times, but the moments of genuine cultural exchange provide an underlying positive feeling about travel and the connections that can be forged along the way.
Unlike the other documentaries listed, Planet Earth is completely devoid of people; however, it still contains an interesting narrative. Instead of focusing on the world through the lens of a traveler, Planet Earth highlights the immense diversity of the world’s natural beauty. Impeccably filmed and peppered with interesting facts, each Planet Earth docu series took years to film and the shooting took place in hundreds of unique locations around the world. Nature enthusiasts will have no shortage of travel inspiration when watching this docu series.
EXPEDITION HAPPINESS (2017)
Expedition Happiness follows the journey of German filmmaker Felix Starlack, who created travel documentary Pedal the World, and musician Selima Taibi (also known as Mogli) on their attempted journey across the Pan-American Highway. In order to make their journey, Starlack and Taibi converted an old school bus into a tiny home (you can view a complete tour of it here), a process we get to see in the video blogs they posted on their YouTube channel. The soundtrack for Expedition Happiness was also written exclusively by Mogli on the road — she has released this collection of songs as an album fittingly entitled Wanderer.
Weit chronicles the three and a half year journey of Patrick Allgaier and Gwendolin Weisser around the world. Refusing to fly, Allgaier and Gwendolin travel exclusively via car (hitchhiking), bus, train and ship. Their journey spanned an epic 100,000 kilometers across Europe, Asia, North America and Central America. By providing an authentic and intimate view of the travel experience, Allgaier and Gwendolin do a wonderful job of not only displaying their own journey, but also highlighting the real living conditions of people around the world — all while showcasing the kindness they encountered on their travels.