When was the last time you were on the road? I am sure with the current pandemic situation going on, the wanderlust in you is waiting to hit the road as soon as possible.
I remember my last hitchhiking trip in Thailand in 2019 when you still didn’t have to worry about handshakes and hugs. During my time hitchhiking in Thailand, I devoured a ton of movies, some TV shows and books to kill boredom when camping or either Couchsurfing at someone’s house.
Movies are magical! For as long as I can remember, movies are the ones that awakened the wanderlust in me to get off my couch and start hitchhiking.
I watched many movies since I started hitchhiking and even before the thought of hitchhiking even crossed my mind. Out of hundreds of travel movies I have devoured until now, here are the 10 best movies to watch on your hitchhiking journey that will keep your spirits high and inspire you to keep going.
Here’s a list of 10 Best Movies to Watch on Your Hitchhiking Journey
Into the Wild
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? It’s impossible to make a best hitchhiking movies list without talking about John Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild’. Those who have already read this non-fiction book by the same name know what a surreal experience it was going through each and every line of the book.
‘Into the Wild’ chronicles the story of a young college graduate Christopher McCandless who renounces everything and sets on a solo journey of self-discovery across the Northern Alaskan wilderness. We meet several people and get a peek into their personal lives whom Christopher comes across throughout his journey.
The way north-western hills and Alaskan wilderness has been filmed is just spell bounding to watch. Each and every scene unfolds in front of our eyes like a beautiful painting making you fall in love with the stunning landscapes and mesmerising beauty of Alaskan wildlife.
‘Into the Wild’ though at times strays into darker places questioning the irrationality of our protagonist for taking such a leap but it’s a movie that’s definitely not to be missed. The movie ends with a powerful life lesson that McCandless ultimately learned from his journey that “Happiness is meaningful only when it is shared”.
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The Motorcycle Diaries
The Motorcycle Diaries follows the early life of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara as he embarks on a motorcycle journey with his friend to explore South America. Based on the memoir of Guevara himself, this journey leads to the transformation of a young medical student into the most renowned revolutionary of that time.
The film follows the journey of Guevara (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) and his friend Alberto (played by Rodrigo de la Serna) as they begin their journey in Buenos Aries and travel across the Andes into Chile, through the Atacama Desert in Peru, and then into Venezuela.
Director Walter Salles has beautifully captured the breath-taking landscapes of Southern America, and at the same time, honestly portrayed the contrasting lives of poor people Guevara encounters in his journey.
Whether you agree with the politics of the movie or not, it will inspire you to undertake a motorcycle journey of your own. Probably the most controversial movie on this list but a critically acclaimed movie nonetheless.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty follows the life of a LIFE magazine employee (Ben Stiller) who is stuck in his mundane routine day-in and day out aspiring to be a more confident and charming man.
His dream of transforming into a more complete man finally comes true when he sets on an expedition to search for Sean O’Connell, a photographer who sends his negatives only to Walter as he believes he does justice to his photography.
Unfortunately, when the magazine decides to use Sean’s photos in their last issue, Walter finds one of the photos is missing from the negative role. Thus, begins the journey of Walter to search for Sean and extract that photo from him. What follows next is the journey that transforms Walter’s life from being a shy submissive man to being a more confident and charming personality.
What makes this movie special is the seemingly breath-taking cinematography and the Icelandic landscapes. You will be motivated to go to places that Walter goes to and experience the world as he does in the movie. This is one such movie on the list that people will relate to most because there are many such Walter’s in the world waiting to hit the road.
Kikujiro is a heart-warming story of a lonely nine-year-old boy named Masao living with his grandma who sets out alone on a trip to meet his real mother. It is on this journey that he comes across ‘Kikujiro’, a small-time Yakuza goon, an arrogant and uptight person, more like an adult infant.
Although poles apart, Masao and Kikijiro slowly build a strong bond as they march on their journey to meet Masao’s mother. On this journey, they both meet several secondary characters like a juggler and a robot imitator, a travelling would-be poet, and two of the least-threatening Hell’s Angels in the cinema.
Kikujiro sports some of the most stunning scenes of the Japanese landscapes. This movie will make you cry, laugh-out-loud at the same time make you contemplate the unsaid rules the society imposes on the outcastes.
Some travel movies go beyond just inspiring you to pack your bags and hit the road. These movies make you reflect back on your life’s choices and beliefs. ‘The Way’ is one such movie that makes you cry, laugh and contemplate on your past life.
It is the story of an American doctor (Martin Sheen) who travels to France to collect the Ashes of his son Daniel who died on the pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago. This journey ultimately leads to a journey of self-discovery and finding answers to his son’s death when the father decides to finish what his son had started.
Along the way, he makes friends with other pilgrims, listens to their stories and discovers why his son loved travelling so much in the first place.
Martin Sheen has given an impeccable performance as a grieving father set out on a journey of self-discovery. The story is beautifully set at the backdrop of the mystical and serene Camino de Santiago and the French countryside. This movie will inspire you to take a pilgrimage to the Camino as it inspired me to do so.
Y Tu mamá también
This Mexican road-trip story is full of comedy, sex and crazy adventures of two teenage boys full of raging hormones, intense friendships and an eagerness to explore the world.
The film narrates one of the best coming of age story of two teenage boys who take a road trip with an older woman in her late twenties. What follows is an exhilarating journey full of love, sex, drugs and betrayal and a learning experience for our main characters.
Directed by Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuaron, the movie has some of the most beautifully shot scenes of Oaxaca and southern Mexico and will make you fall in love with the country.
Based on a memoir of Robyn Davidson, Tracks is the story of Robyn’s solo journey as a woman from the West Australian desert to the Indian Ocean with her pet dog and four camels.
Robyn’s journey spanned over 1,700 miles (over 2,700 kilometres) in which she endured sweltering heat, poisonous snakes and lecherous men and the exhausting task of keeping her four camels sane.
Robyn’s journey sounds like one which came straight out of a typical Hollywood underdog story, but the fact that it’s true makes it even more extraordinary. So next time you are worried about going on a solo backpacking trip, just recall the story of this courageous woman called Robyn Davidson.
Samsara is an example of documentary filmmaking at its best. This documentary is filmed across 25 countries and took five years to shoot across various locations in the world.
Shot on 70mm film, Samsara is astonishingly beautiful and a visual treat for the eyes. This global travelogue transports you to the mystical Himalayas, the American southwest, European cathedrals, scorching deserts and other beautiful cities in the world.
What makes watching Samsara a more exhilarating experience is there is no voice narration, the mesmerising music and flawless cinematography takes you on a world tour from the comfort of your home.
Nomadland follows the life of Fern (played by Frances McDormand), a middle-aged woman who has lost her job to the recession in a small town in Nevada. Soon after this nightmare, she has to deal with the death of her husband.
To restart her life and find her job she sells everything she has and sets on a journey across west America in search of a job and a new life. Throughout her journey, she meets several other nomads who make their living by travelling in RV’s. On this trip, Fern makes friends with several nomads, finds comfort in their joys and sorrows and even looks after a man who falls ill.
Nomadland is a movie that finds poetry in the lives of simple people you don’t usually see on the screen. Frances McDormand has given the most subtle and nuanced performance of her life and the breath-taking landscapes make it a riveting watch. The film stars many real-life nomads living their life in an RV.
If you are a nomad don’t miss this movie because you will not only get to see how the real nomads live but also the survival skills that make such a living possible.
A Map for Saturday
If there’s one movie on this list that you shouldn’t miss out on, especially if you are a hitchhiker then this is that movie. This documentary film explores what it means to be a solo traveller- the intense friendships that end too quickly, the exhilarating experience of constant movement around the globe, interacting with people from diverse socio-economic strata and the risks involved in travelling solo around the globe.
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Brook Silva Braga, the man behind the documentary has done an excellent job of capturing the intricate details of the art of solo-travelling around the globe. If you are the one who has already done some solo travelling then you will relate to it and if not, then this movie is just all you need to get you going.
So, which movie on this list are your going to watch first? Which movies inspired the wanderlust in you to explore the world? We would love to hear your travel stories inspired from movies and add some awesome recommendations to this list. Please let us know in the comment section.