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30 Movies to Inspire Your Educational Travels

April 16, 2014 James Glavin 11 Comments
Movies that inspire travel

You may have seen our recent blog post about books that have inspired the team at ACIS to travel. We also asked a similar question about films. Which movies fire up the wanderlust in us? Here’s a list of 30 films—in no particular order—that give us itchy feet.

1. Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

‘It’s a love letter to Italy.’
Tim Godby, Tour Manager, UK

2. The Third Man

The Third Man

‘Apart from being the best film ever made, The Third Man gives such a vivid picture of post-war Vienna that you want to walk the streets, see the sights and ride the Riesenrad in the Prater. Whenever I’m in Vienna, Harry Lime is never far from my thoughts.’
Edward Bates, Tour Manager, London, UK

3. The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries

‘Travel doesn’t only have to be relaxing but can also be inspiring to make a difference in the world.’
Jeff Sullivan, Client Services, Boston, MA

‘I’ve been traveling since I was one year old but watching this film made me want to cycle across Brazil and Argentina (preferably behind Gael Garcia Bernal…). It also made me realize how lucky I was to hail from such a beautiful country as Argentina.’
Dana Ptacinsky, Tour Manager Office Director, London, UK

4. Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

‘The fantastic voyage from Sydney to the Red Center of Australia made me want to experience the heat, colors and sounds of the desert for myself.’
Peter Ede, Tour Manager, London, UK

5. Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël

‘This moving film inspired our ACIS trip to WWI sites in France and Belgium. It was unforgettable.’
Saralee Peccolo-Taylor, Tennessee Regional Advisor, TN

6. Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

‘You can’t be afraid to head out into the great wide world!’
Pascale Hickman, Tour Manager, Bozeman, MT

7. L’Auberge Espagnol

L’Auberge Espangol

‘This film sums up a lot of what being young in Europe means nowadays: young Europeans are increasingly multicultural and multilingual. It made me dream of living the Erasmus dream.’
Florent Santaniello, Tour Manager, London, UK

‘It depicts the life of a student living abroad in such a vibrant and exciting way and shows how enriching it is to live in an international setting.’
Sabrina Denault, Encore Tours Regional Manager, Boston, MA

8. Into the Wild

Into the Wild

‘It is an affirmation of the human being as part of a system, not as the lord of it.’
Giacomo Gambone, Tour Manager Operations Coordinator, London, UK

‘Because travel means freedom of the mind, the letting go of all ties.’
Ilaria Fiore, Tour Manager, Italy

‘The stunning images of the Alaskan wilderness are breathtaking.’
Valeria Bullo, Tour Manager, London

9. A Room with a View

A Room with a View

‘I lived in and loved (and still do love) Siena, Tuscany. This film reminds me of the beauty of Tuscany.’
Lucy Ryan, Tour Manager, Spain/Italy/UK

10. Amélie


‘Absolutely fell head over heels in love with Montmartre on screen! After my first trip to Paris, the neighborhood met and exceeded my very high expectations.’
Erin Stern, Online Marketing Manager, Boston, MA

11. The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

‘Draws me back to Austria!’
Randy White, Academic Travel Advisor, TX

‘This was the first movie I remember seeing in the theater in the 1960s. I knew I had to see Salzburg. It was a dream come true to do it with ACIS!’
Pam Skaar Meier, Area Administrator and Travel Coordinator, MN

12. Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia

‘Possibly seems like an odd choice, but the scenes of Greece were just so gorgeous!’
Roni Hyman, Marketing Intern, Boston, MA

13. Bottle Rocket

Bottle Rocket

‘A great, funny, touching—and different!—road movie.’
Jeff Vanderpool, Tour Manager, London, UK/Athens, Greece

14. My Life in Ruins

My Life in Ruins

‘It’s a comedy about group travel. It always makes me laugh and remember that we can not control everything and part of the adventure is the unexpected.’
Mark McBride, Group Leader and Academic Travel Advisor, Bloomington, IL

15. Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

‘It reminds you of the exciting cycle of traveling connecting you with history and literature and how what you learn from them can bear fruit in your life today.’
Nicolette Miller, Group leader and Academic Travel Advisor, Westlake, OH

‘Even though this movie was released after I was bit by the travel bug, it definitely makes me want to return to Paris any chance I can!’
Jill Federschneider, Senior International Program Manager, Boston, MA

‘Together with Amélie, it reminds me what an amazing city Paris is and how much I love it.’
Marcello Mereu, Tour Manager, Brussels, Belgium

16. The Secret of Roan Inish

The Secret of Roan Inish

‘The landscapes are breathtaking!’
Susan Margot Ecker, Director of First Impressions, Boston, MA

17. Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac

‘This marvelous adaptation of the Rostand play evokes both the aspirational spirit of France in the seventeenth century and the romantic vicissitudes of the protagonists, weaving an intoxicating air of francophone charm (it’s a particularly star turn from Depardieu).’
Daniel Finch-Race, Tour Manager, UK

18. Good Bye Lenin!

Good Bye Lenin!

‘This film tells you everything you need to know about Berlin and East Germany.’
Ben Pollard, Tour Manager, York, UK

19. The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits

‘I chose this because of my love for South America.’
Grazia Parisi, Office Accountant, London, UK

20. Central Station

Central Station

‘This is all about the redemptive power of travel.’
James Harding, Tour Manager, Hertfordshire, UK/Csikszereda, Transylvania

21. Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet

‘The scenes of the characters riding along the Italian countryside were stunning!’
Kristin McDuffie, Academic Travel Advisor, GA

22. Paris je t’aime

Paris je t’aime

‘It’s a series of short films that capture so many facets of Paris and show you what a diverse city it is. Everyone thinks they know Paris but there’s always one more thing to be discovered – and this film shows you a few of them.’
Richard Oates, Tour Manager, Dorset, UK

23. Cría Cuervos

Cría Cuervos

‘This film shows a perfect snapshot of Spain’s transition to democracy.’
Samuel Bull, Tour Manager, Spain/Portugal/London, UK

24. The underwater documentaries of Jacques Cousteau

The underwater documentaries of Jacques Cousteau

‘His work made me determined when I was a child to follow in his footsteps which I did, literally and lived on the island of Cozumel filming the amazing sealife there.’
Deborah Wilson, Supervisor/Tour Manager – Spain and Portugal, Granada, Spain

25. Seven Years in Tibet

Seven Years in Tibet

‘It gives me a sense of the entire world out there.’
Julie Fratarcangeli, Director of New Business Development, Boston, MA

26. The English Patient

The English Patient

‘A bit like the book – it’s very atmospheric and makes you feel like you’re in those places.’
Sarah Perry, Tour Manager, Edinburgh, UK

27. Persepolis


‘It’s a beautiful story, both exotic and political since it deals with the relationship between East and West.’
Caterina Panetta, Tour Manager, Rome, Italy

28. Babel


‘A film which focuses on our interconnected world. The initial incident—involving American tourists in a bus traveling through a world they do not understand, immersed in their own personal issues—sparks a world wide chain reaction. This film got me interested in locations which I would not normally find engaging—urban Japan for example—and superbly highlights our common humanity and littleness in the great scheme of things.’
Kate Webb, Tour Manager, Paris, France

29. The Louvre (narrated by Charles Boyer)

The Louvre (narrated by Charles Boyer)

‘A wonderful documentary that presents the history of the Louvre and many of its works of art.’
Elaine Prestel, Academic Travel Advisor, MI

30. A Year in Provence

A Year in Provence

‘I loved watching Peter Mayle learn about the people and culture of the South of France even as he tried to restore a French farmhouse.’
Sue Minor, Academic Travel Advisor/Group Leader, Nashville, TN

Are there any films that you find have inspired you to travel? Let us know in the comments below!


James Glavin

11 thoughts on “30 Movies to Inspire Your Educational Travels

  1. Relatos Salvajes – Wild Tales really inspires you to travel to Argentina and experience the nation’s culture and passion, at least it did for me.

    It’s a great comedic film containing six shorts which demonstrate ‘crimes of passion’ the people of Argentina are presumed feel. I recommend it to anyone who wants a good laugh, wants to practice Argentinian Spanish, and/or wants to experience a characteristic of Argentinian people.

  2. 1. “Jean de Florette” and the sequel “Manon des Sources”. Captures village life in Provence circa 1920’s – 1930’s. Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Beart, Gerard Depardieu.
    2. “Up”. Such a heart warming story with a focus on a trip to South America.

  3. Anne of a Thousand Days made me want to go to the London Towers. The Longest Day led me to the church in Saint Mère-Eglise, Skyfall made me appreciate the skyline of London. Five coins in a Fountain led me through the streets of Rome and to my favorite fountain. Charade led me on a great chase around Paris.

  4. The Lion in Winter chronicles the lives of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their three sons as they struggle for control of France and England.
    While we’re on Henry II, Becket is worth watching. You get Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole for the price of one.
    Henry V as presented by Kenneth Branagh is William Shakespeare’s interpretation of the Lancastrian era of the Hundred Year’s War.
    A Man For All Seasons with Paul Scofield will give you great insight into the intrigue in Henry VIII’s court that led to the trial of Sir Thomas More.
    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World gives a glimpse of early 19th century life at sea. It’s hard not to imagine scenes from that film when you’re walking the decks of HMS Victory in Portsmouth.
    The Battle of Britain provides perhaps the greatest aerial footage ever filmed. Real Spitfires, Hurricanes, Bf-109s and Heinkels reenacted the battle that, as Churchill said, “Wasn’t the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.” If you’ve ever been to the Churchill War Rooms or the bunkers beneath Dover Castle, these scenes will be very relevant.
    I have yet to see Darkest Hour, but it’s on my short list.
    Hope and Glory is WWII in England seen through the eyes of children. One humorous scene has the 9-year-old protagonist returning from the bomb shelter, and when he finds his school demolished he screams to the sky, “Thank you, Adolph!”
    A movie that shows the human side of the mine closures in the 1980s is Brassed Off. An ensemble made up of employees of a mining company competes in a band contest while negotiations are underway to close their mine and put them out of work.

  5. Marius and Fanny (2013) directed by (and starring) Daniel Auteuil, from the Marseillaise Trilogy by Marcel Pagnol. I only wish he had filmed the third part “César”! These movies will make you absolutely fall in love with sailing the sea on France’s southern-most border!

  6. The Original, 1954, Sabrina has some great quotes.
    “Oh Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s for changing your outlook” -Audrey Hepburn

  7. Such a great list! I want to add:
    Inferno: The threat of a global pandemic is saved by Tom Hanks & co while they run around Florence, Venice and Istanbul.
    Quantum of Solace, James Bond. Lots of great scenes in Italy, including the opening scenes right in the Palio horse race in Siena.
    I also like a series called Brunetti – a police detective who lives in Venice. (Based on a series of mystery novels by Donna Leon.) A German company produced 14 episodes filmed in Venice with mostly German actors. Sometimes I get so distracted by the lovely hidden corners of the city that I forget to read the subtitles and have to rewind.
    The Tourist – Another crime/intrigue movie (Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp) that provides eye candy for those of us who can’t get enough of Venice. Apparently I am one of those people.

  8. Local Hero. It came out in 1983 and stars Burt Lancaster and Peter Reigert. The movie tells the story of change caused by travel, and it has an amazing soundtrack by Mark Knopfler.

  9. “Nosotros Los Nobles”
    It is one of my favorite movies! It is a romantic comedy, but also shows some of the economic disparity in Mexico.

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