Check out the must-see images that inspired us in this10-film journey around the world.
The Budget Travel Oscars
The 10 Most Travel-Inspiring Films of the Year
We love the Oscars as much as the next guy, but there’s no adventure in watching movies from your couch. That’s why we’ve rounded up ten films that will make you want to get out of the house, hop a flight, and see the world.
Why it's an inspiration: The whole movie is practically a gilded postcard from the most beautiful places in northern and central Italy, including the regions of Siena, Soave, and Lake Garda. These regions are packed with Tuscan vineyards, rustic villas, marble cathedrals, and, of course, glorious Italian cuisine. It's enough to make you realize, come the end of your trip, that parting really is such sweet sorrow.
Price check: Fly to Venice: It's usually significantly cheaper than flying directly to Verona. Plus, it's only an hour-and-a-half train ride from there to Verona (a round-trip ticket costs $16, Trenitalia.com). Round-trip airfare to Venice with one layover can be as low as $958 from New York (Aer Lingus) or $1,346 from San Francisco (Swiss).
Where to stay: Where else but the two-star Hotel Giulietta e Romeo? Named after the star-crossed pair, the 30-room hotel even has two balconies as a nod to their late-night wooing. Giuliettaeromeo.com, doubles from $132
Beijing: The Karate Kid
The flick: So karate is technically Japanese—but this remake of the 1984 teen classic relocates the bullied-kid-learns-martial-arts story from L.A. to Beijing. Jayden Smith (son of Will) plays Dre Parker, the awkward 12-year-old who learns the tenets of self-defense from Mr. Han, played by Jackie Chan. Key scene: Real training takes too long—that's why we have montages! The aerial shots of Dre running up and down the Great Wall of China as part of his regimen will make you want to see the enormous world wonder yourself, but likely at a more leisurely pace.
Why it's an inspiration: The film is a breathtaking ode to one of the most populous (and historically fascinating) countries on earth. Dre visits the Forbidden City while on a field trip, trains along the Great Wall, and strolls the labyrinthine streets of Beijing. Tantalizing shots of the city skyline and the famous Bird's Nest stadium remind us that the city has a modern side as well. The Karate Kid also showcases the mist-enshrouded Wudang Mountains in southern central China, where Han takes Dre to learn about the origins of kung fu at one of the region's many Taoist temples. The cheapest and most direct way to follow in their footsteps is to take a train from Beijing, but it's far—20 hours one way ($25 round trip).
Price check: A search for tickets in June reveals that Air China will take you to and from Beijing nonstop for $1,454, if you're starting in Los Angeles, and $1,514, if you're starting in New York.
Where to stay: In another life, Beijing's two-star Lu Song Yuan Hotel, with its tea room and 19th-century stone architecture, was the residence of a Qing dynasty general. Today, it's a 59-room hotel that places you firmly in China's storied cultural past while providing easy access to sights such as the National Museum of China and Tian'anmen Square. The-silk-road.com, doubles from $88
- Related: Pop Culture Pilgrimages
Southern California: The Kids Are All Right
The flick: Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a married lesbian couple living in perpetually sunny SoCal. Their two children decide to track down their sperm-donor father (Mark Ruffalo), and his entry into their lives rocks the family unit. Key scene: Ruffalo's character owns a restaurant and an organic farm, and when we first see him, he's harvesting a basket of fresher-than-fresh vegetables. He takes a bite out of a vine-ripened tomato, and suddenly you're wishing you were the one in the sunshine biting into that juicy, red fruit.
Why it's an inspiration: The near-constant sunlight and luxuriant gardens of the film may make you want to lie back and bask in the Golden State's glory, but there's also plenty of stuff to do and see. The house where they shot much of the film is located in Venice, Calif., a perfect home base from which to enjoy all the wide-flung variety the region has to offer. Venice Beach (one of the country's most beautiful strands) is right there, and if you keep driving along the coast, you'll reach the picturesque beach town of Malibu in about 35 minuts. Hollywood is a 30-minute drive northeast from Venice and if you're willing to venture a couple of hours outside of the city, you can ski in the San Bernardino National Forest.