5 Best Movies of 2012 to Inspire Travel

Wednesday Matinee

By Jane Boursaw

Destination: India, France, Michigan, Yemen, Alaska

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Judi Dench and Celia Imrie in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

For my monthly column here at A Traveler’s Library, I love scouring the world of cinema for the best movies to inspire travel, whether it’s relaxation or adventure you seek. Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite travel films from 2012:

1. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. There’s a lot to love about this movie that tells the story of several retirees who all end up at the same place in India. Namely, a run-down hotel in need of some tender loving care. The lovely old place and the colorful streets of India are yet more characters in this sweet movie starring a who’s who of British acting vets, including Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith. Dench’s beautiful scarves play supporting characters.

2. The Intouchables. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the premise of this film, which tells the story of a wealthy quadriplegic who hires a poor Algerian immigrant to be his caretaker. It sounded like the kind of sentimental tear-fest that always makes me twitch, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. After seeing The Intouchables, it became one of my favorite movies ever — for the touching story, the characters played by Francois Cluzet and Omar Cy, and the gorgeous French landscapes.

3. Hide Away. Who knew I’d find such a lovely movie right in my own back yard? This thoughtful story about a mysterious man (Josh Lucas) who fixes up a dilapidated boat and finds joy in life again was filmed a mile from my house on the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City, Michigan. It truly is a beautiful place to live, and now anyone who sees the movie will know that, too (but don’t everyone crowd in here at the same time).

4. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. With all the political turmoil erupting in Yemen, it’s probably not a place you’d think about visiting anytime soon. But with Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor in the leads and a quirky story about a wealthy sheikh who wants to bring fly-fishing to one of the driest places on the planet, I was ready to book the next flight there. It’s also a joyful story about faith, love and hope.

5. Big Miracle. On the surface, this movie about three whales who get caught in the ice off a small Alaskan town probably won’t go down in cinematic history as the best film ever made. But there’s something about the sweet story, the determination of the characters played by Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, and the beautifully frigid landscape of Alaska that makes me all warm inside.

What are your favorite movies to inspire travel?

Tomorrow our week + of Best Lists features 10 BEST TASTY TRAVEL Experiences by Brette Sember.

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print & online pubs, including her syndicated family movie & TV reviews.

Jane Boursaw – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.

9 thoughts on “5 Best Movies of 2012 to Inspire Travel

  1. “Best Marigold” was fantastic. Of course, anything with Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith is classic!

    Another movie that came out towards the end of the year that inspires a desire to travel was “Les Miserables.” Kinda makes you want to take a nice vacation to Paris.

    And if I may, let’s not forget some t.v. series that can also inspire travel. And first, for me, would be “Downton Abbey”! Totally makes me want to take a trip to Britain.

  2. Well, darn…they may inspire travel, but none of these inspired Academy Award nominations. A couple would have qualified in 2011, instead of 2012, but it is disappointing that The Intouchables was overlooked, certainly. And what the heck happened to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that was talked up early in the year as a sure winner of several awards? Jane, your thoughts?

  3. These are great ideas and two I never saw. In wondering what I would add to this list, I could only come up with TV series. I suppose I need to spend more time in the area before I am inspired to visit. My guilty pleasures for travelling from the armchair are A Year in Provence, the Wallendar series filmed in Sweden, Downton Abbey or Brideshead Revisited, and All Creatures Great and Small.Deadwood is a hard sell due to the language, but I plan to go to South Dakota soon because of it!

    1. We probably need to add a Best TV shows to Inspire Travel to our lists. Stick around, Cynthia. Maybe next year we will do just that–and certainly pay attention to your recommendations.

  4. Just updated my list of movies request through interlibrary loan. Thanks for the reminders of some I meant to see but never got around to.

    Films that make me want to travel include Enchanted April, Babette’s Feast (yes, it’s stark but lovely), and Lawrence of Arabia. My picks are literally, all over the map. :)

  5. My all time favorite is Woody Allen’s views of Paris in Midnight in Paris. A lot of people hark back to Russia in Dr. Zhivago, but the new Anna Karenina has some stunning views of Russia as well. Seems it was a bumper year for movies to inspire travel. And what good company Traverse Michigan is keeping!

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