Itching to get out and travel, but stuck at home for the foreseeable future? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Pack your bag, put your seat back, and put on some of these documentaries. It’s the next best thing, right?
1. 180 Degrees South (83% on Rotten Tomatoes)
A travel documentary of the most wanderlust-inducing variety, 180 Degrees South is the story of a man attempting to retrace the steps of his heroes, Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, who in 1968 traveled to Patagonia from California by van. The entire documentary is full of incredible quotes and imagery, but my favorites are from the trailer itself: “The unknown is the greatest fear of all. But we just went for it.” “The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life..you can’t just keep trying to make a flawed system work.”
2. Samsara, 2012 (77% R.T.)
Widely praised for it’s overall theme and beautiful imagery, Samsara is the visual tale of 25 separate countries and cultures filmed over the course of five years. By getting rid of traditional documentary narration, director Ron Fricke forces you to ask for yourself what it means to be human.
3. Mile…Mile & a Half: A Journey Along the John Muir Trail
Following a group of artists as they walk the entire 219 mile length of the John Muir Trail, Mile…Mile & a Half: A Journey Along the John Muir Trail is a wonderfully filmed documentary that exhibits a profound respect for the wild and unexplored regions of America.
4. Maidentrip (83% R.T.)
Maidentrip is the story of Laura Dekker, who at the age of 14 set out to be the youngest person to ever sail around the globe solo. The majority of the filming is done by Laura herself, who quickly sets herself apart as someone of incredible maturity and bravery. The entire film is a testament to the power of youthful idealism and recklessness, inspiring all of us to reach beyond what we think we can do.
5. Blindsight (98% R.T.)
Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, Blindsight follows the gripping true-life adventure of six blind Tibetan teenagers on a climbing expedition up formidable Mount Everest. Inspiring, terrifying, and gripping all at once.
6. Encounters at the End of the World (94% R.T.)
Famed documentary Werner Herzog explores the human side of life in the antarctic, shedding light on a place that few travelers will ever have the joy of seeing. It’s a fascinating look at life at “the end of the world”.
7. God Grew Tired of Us (91% R.T.)
While not technically a “travel” documentary, God Grew Tired of Us is still a must see for people interested in the crossroads of culture and humanity, where people from totally different worlds meet in a testament to human spirit and hope. Incredibly inspiring and hopeful.
8. Wasteland (100% R.T.)
Top-selling contemporary artist Vik Muniz takes us on an emotional journey from Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to the heights of international art stardom. Described as the “Slumdog Millionaire” of documentaries, it’s an crowd pleasing look into hope in the seemingly most hopeless of situations.