In this strange period of our lives where travel is still restricted and many of us are itching to continue learning about other countries and cultures, travel documentaries can be the escape that we are desperate for. In this blog I have listed some of the best travel documentaries to give you that sense of wanderlust and inspire your travels when the world starts to open up again.
1. Simon Reeve Around the World
Let’s face it, you know that anything with Simon Reeve is going to be high quality. Born in London in 1972, Simon began making travel documentaries for the BBC in 2001. Simon has travelled all over the world, documenting everything from a 25,000 mile journey around the Equator to travelling the length of the Americas. One of my favourite documentaries was the four-part journey around the Meditteranean, uncovering the secrets and exploring the extremes behind popular locations behind the region.
2. Under an Arctic Sky
Perhaps one of the first travel documentaries that inspired me to (one day) film a documentary of my own, Under an Arctic Sky is a documentary following a group of surfers on a pilgrimage to Northern Iceland, with the dream of catching perfect waves under the Northern Lights.
Where to watch: https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/films/under-an-arctic-sky
3. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
Not necessarily a travel programme, but certainly another one to give you wanderlust, The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes follows the award-winning architect Piers Taylor and actress and property enthusiast Caroline Quentin on a journey to find some of the most inspirational and incredible home designs around the world. Series one focuses on themes such as forest homes and mountain homes, whereas series two takes on a different country in each episode. For fans of architecture and travel, this one’s definitely for you!
Where to watch: The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes has been available on Netflix and Apple TV, though it currently only seems to be available to watch on regular TV broadcast reruns. You can see when it is next due to air here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tqygb/episodes/guide.
4. An Idiot Abroad
One of my favourite shows of all time, An Idiot Abroad follows unlikely hero Karl Pilkington as he visits the wonders of the world and popular bucket list travels such as swimming with dolphins, driving Route 66 and staying on a deserted island. Formerly a radio producer, Karl found fame when producing Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant’s radio show on XFM, and later on the Ricky Gervais Show Podcast, offering his alternative and slightly grumpy views on the world. In An Idiot Abroad, reluctant traveller Karl is often set up by producers Ricky and Steve in order to take him as far out of his comfort zone as possible, to maximum comedic value to the viewer.
5. Street Food
The Netflix Original ‘Street Food’ is a relatively new find for me, with the two series following the chefs behind some of the best street food in Asia and Latin America, and the effect of this food on the region. As a lover of food, the Spanish language, and Latin American culture, I was absolutely enamored from the first episode of the Latin America series, concentrating on Buenos Aires and Tortillas, Fugazzeta, Empanadas and Choripán.
For me, Street Food has the perfect ingredients for a travel documentary: beautifully shot stories told by locals that teach you about the things that are intrinsic to the local culture, underpinned by moments of human connection.
Where to watch: https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81249660
6. Chasing Ice
Chasing Ice is an Emmy Award winning documentary following National Geographic photographer James Balog as he aims to position time-lapse cameras to capture years-worth of the changing face of Arctic glaciers.
Where to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8trYg1lytg&ab_channel=YouTubeMovies.
7. Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing
The warm and quirky Gone Fishing series follows the inimitable comedian Bob Mortimer and acclaimed actor Paul Whitehouse on a fishing trip around the UK, which provides a backdrop for beautiful nature and a chat about the important things in life.
8. Blue Planet II
You didn’t think I could write a travel documentary roundup and not include the national treasure that is David Attenborough did you? Honestly, pick anything that David Attenborough has done to gain a deeper appreciation of the natural world around us. Blue Planet II takes a look at the oceans and everything in them, whilst exploring human-kind’s increased need to help protect them.
Where to watch: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p04tjbtx/blue-planet-ii
Travel documentaries are a fantastic way to escape into the world that we love during this difficult period. Let me know some of your favourite documentaries in the comments below!