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5 Best 2013 Movies to Inspire Travel

Secret Life of Walter MittyTime for my annual best movies to inspire travel story. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of movies in 2013 that had a distinct sense of place. And many, like The Great Gatsby, were filmed in a location (Australia, in this case) far away from where the movie is set (Long Island, New York). But here are five that stand out for me.

1. The Book Thief. Based on Markus Zusak’s book, this movie tells the story of a young girl who escapes the horrors of WWII Germany by stealing books and sharing them with others. Locations include Berlin; Görlitz, Saxony; and Studio Babelsberg, Potsdam, Brandenburg. Read my review here.

2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You want travel in a movie? Check out this remake of the classic 1947 movie, based on the short story by James Thurber. Ben Stiller plays a daydreamer who escapes his mundane life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job is threatened, he takes action in the real world, embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Locations include British Columbia, the Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland, and the Time-Life Building in Manhattan.

3. Now You See Me. This movie directed by Louis Leterrier didn’t get a lot of press, but I loved it. The story follows an FBI agent and an Interpol detective tracking a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. Count me in! Filming locations include the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Paris.

4. Beautiful Creatures. Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert star in this movie about a boy who longs to escape his small Southern town. When he meets a mysterious new girl, together they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. Based on the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this movie was shot in three locations in Louisiana — Covington, St. Francisville, and New Orleans. Read my review here.

5. The Spectacular Now. This indie film stars Miles Teller as a charming high school senior with a thirst for alcohol and no plans for the future. Until, that is, he gets involved with Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), a “nice girl” with big plans. This movie was filmed in sunny Georgia. 

13 Best Places to Eat, Shop,Travel and Enjoy

Cultural Travel

Cultural Finds in 2013

By Jessica Voigts

A new year, and a look back at old favorites, leads me to realize that I’m always thinking about food and culture. Not a surprise, given my lifelong pursuit of both! Take a look at some of my favorite posts from the past year (hint: food cues forthcoming).


Canadian butter tarts
Canadian butter tarts. Photo by Jessica Voigts

I love mixing travel and food. In fact, travel for me is food! In this article, Shakespeare and Tarts in Stratford, Canada , family reminiscences coincide with my Granny’s recipe for Canadian butter tarts. Ah, Stratford, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

One of the most popular recipes on Wandering Educators this year was my Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Bark – it’s easy, healthy, and delicious! 

Restaurants & Resources

Scotland Food: Mallaig Prawns
Fresh Mallaig Prawns, The Tea Garden, Mallaig, Scotland – Jessie Voigts

Oh, Scotland – full of such great food! In Exploring Scottish Food One Bite At a Time, I share my favorite restaurants – and some great resources for Scottish food.

One of our editors at Wandering Educators, Casey Siemasko, shared an article on the experience of Night Markets in Taiwan . She notes that your attitude is critical to success – and shares some shopping tips that come from experience.


In How to Take a Delicious Cultural Odyssey, Close to Home I shared my technique of going global while staying local. Whether it is food, books, or art, you don’t need to leave the country to explore the world.

Our Chief Editor, Brianna Krueger, shares some shopping tips that all travelers can use, in Totally Nonsarcastic Ways Layovers are Awesome  Bet you’ll agree…

Art & History

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth
Chartres Cathedral labyrinth, Photo by Tom Flemming

In Tired of Visiting Cathedrals? 7 Reasons to Take Another Look , learn how you can avoid cathedral fatigue and really dig deeply into place.

And, I was very proud of one of our editors, Josh Garrick, who made art history when he was the very first American to exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Greece!


In Visiting the Shire you’ll be inspired by the landscapes of New Zealand, as shown in the Hobbit movies. You’ll also learn how you can take a Hobbit road trip!

In 6 Magical Items to Keep you Safe at Hogwarts, one of the students in our teen travel blogging program, Sarah Albom, discovers some fun and useful items from the Harry Potter Studios in Londonl


Legend of Sleepy Hollow Story Teller
Jonathan Kruk performing at Old Dutch Church
Photo © Tom Nycz

This year, I had great fun at A Travelers Library exploring Medieval Christmas traditions and the Halloween back story of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow . What I love most about these articles is the connection from our practices and readings to history.

More history (and a recipe) awaits, in You Can Thank Napoleon for the Yule Log. Food writer and one of our editors Kristen J. Gough digs up the history of this holiday tradition – you’ll be surprised!

3 Best Children’s Books To Inspire Pet Travel

Pet Travel Tuesday

Destination: Wyoming, England, France Books: Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep by Cat Urbigkit, (2005)  Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930)  Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich, illustrations by Amy Bates (2012).

Pet Travel and Childhood Wonder

By Pamela Douglas Webster 

When subzero temperatures and post-Christmas bills keep me hibernating at home, I love reading about travel to far-off places.

Winter reading about pet travel with the dog in front of the fireplace.
My favorite winter reading spot includes a sleepy dog and a warm fire.

But unlike many people who save their lighter reading for summer vacations on the beach, I prefer simple and uncomplicated books during the short winter days. In fact, I feel a strong urge to read children’s books. Rekindling a sense of childhood wonder takes me as far from today’s worries and cares as any adventure yarn or south seas travelogue. Throw in a kind animal companion and I’m transported far away.

In 2013 I reviewed some delightful books to inspire travel with pets. I’ve found three children’s counterparts that allowed me to revisit my favorites just in time for record cold temperatures. Check them out to renew your sense of childhood wonder. Or read the adult book that inspired me while sharing the child’s story with your own youngster.

Brave and Gentle Dogs Guarding Sheep

Reading Cat Urbigkit’s Shepherds of Coyote Rocks: Public Lands, Private Herds and the Natural World left me pondering the human and environmental benefits of the pastoral life. But in the gloomy winter, I’m more drawn to her photo essay for children, Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep. Anyone who knows enough about a subject to describe it for children knows her stuff. But her beautiful photos are the real draw of this book. How hard must your heart be to spurn pictures of puppies and lambs?

Classic Island Tales and Childhood Wonder

Tom Neale’s account of the solitary life he shared with his cats on an island paradise, An Island to Oneself, continues to inspire. Cruising sailors make pilgrimages to Neale’s island home, Suwarrow, to pay homage to this independent spirit. And enough landlubbers continue their own fantasies of such adventures to make Arthur Ransome’s classic Swallows and Amazons as popular with adults as with children, more than 80 years after its writing.

The story of two rival sets of English children exploring their common river by sailboat and camping on an island continues to enthrall readers. Banding together to make war against the “pirate” living aboard a boat with his parrot makes the children friends. It’s no surprise that both classics of bold and independent adventure remain favorite reads of cruising sailors.

Julia Child Loves Cats

<Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson could almost be a children’s story. One of the endearing qualities of Julia Child is that she never outgrew her sense of joy and wonder. And nothing amused Julia as much as cats.

Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich tells the story of the real-life kitten who sampled Child’s earliest cooking efforts. Amy Bates’s beautiful illustrations transported me to that test kitchen high above the streets of Paris. Reviewing books that inspire pet travel has given me plenty of inspiration both for fantasy and for the trips I wish to take with my dog one day.

As I end my tenure writing for A Traveler’s Library, I’m most thankful for the chance to reflect on the wonderful perspective that travel with pets gives us—a new way of seeing and appreciating the world. And if you enjoy exploring the human-canine bond, whether by traveling or training or just observing dogs, stop by to see me at Something Wagging This Way Comes.

Disclosures: The links will take you to Amazon, where you can buy these books. It will not cost you more but I will earn a few cents commission. Thanks for your support.

Photo credit: jespahjoy via photopin cc