The best travel experiences depicted in books and films

If you’ve got the travel bug, but can’t decide on a place, check out these books and movies for some instant inspiration.

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

This was the first book I ever read that inspired me to pack my bags and see the world.

It tells the story of a classroom of children in the wilderness of Alaska in 1948. Teachers from mainland United States never stay long because they cannot handle the culture shock. But this year, the children finally get a mainland American teacher who cares about them named Miss Agnes.

Although it’s a story written for children, it deals with the clash of cultures that inevitably happens while travelling and has always highlighted, to me, the importance of learning about the rest of the world.

—Janoah Willsie

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Over the past few years my back-to-school ritual has involved re-reading Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.

This novel, set on the Isle of Skye in northern Scotland, is a perfect read for the hazy heat of August. It tells the story of the Ramsay family, lead by their mesmerizing matriarch Mrs. Ramsay, at their summer home. The rambling prose focuses on thoughts and observations as it delves into the complexity of familial bonds.

Woolf’s expert descriptions might just entice you to visit the Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall, England, the real life structure that inspired the breathtaking landscape in the novel.

—Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi

Stephen King novels

For horror fans, there is no setting more iconic than one of Stephen King’s idyllic but eerie New England towns. In 2012, my family took a literary road trip to King’s hometown of Bangor, Maine, which is as close as you can get to stepping into one of his novels.

The inspiration behind Derry and Castle Rock, Bangor is home to the graveyard from Pet Sematary, the Paul Bunyan statue and standpipe from It. The seaside town is also home to King’s private home, distinguished by its cobweb windowpanes and foreboding wrought iron gate.

—Madison McSweeney

Whale Rider

I have dreamed of visiting New Zealand ever since I first watched Whale Rider.

This 2002 drama follows the story of a Maori girl named Pai, who wants to inherit the leadership of their tribe from her grandfather. But because she is female, she is not permitted to take up that title.

Whale Rider masterfully intertwines the beauty of New Zealand with the rich Maori culture to produce a story that is heartwarming and inspirational.

—Janoah Willsie

Into the Wild

Into The Wild tells the story of Christopher “Alexander Supertramp” McCandless, an American hiker and minimalist who gained international fame after an ill-fated trip to Alaska.

McCandless’ views on human relationships, the mental drag of material wealth, and his reckless attitude made him a controversial figure. However, he embodies everything I love about backpacking and served as an inspiration for me both at home and abroad.

Although several adaptations of his life have been produced, the 2007 film starring Emile Hirsch paints his character in the multifaceted light his legacy deserves.  

—Eric Davison

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I’m not Woody Allen’s biggest fan, but the man does make some great travel films.

Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona are two of my favourites. The latter is about two girlfriends who spend a summer traveling in Spain. The film portrayed the warm country and its people so charmingly I even ended up visiting beautiful Barcelona myself.

I have visited over 30 countries, but that trip to Spain will always be in my top five.

—Nadia Helal

Stealing Beauty

This Bernardo Bertolucci drama follows Lucy Harmon, a 19-year-old woman who visits her late mother’s best friend in her lush Tuscan villa.

This film has an optimal mix of Liv-Tyler-dancing-to-Courtney-Love-in-polka-dots nostalgia and modern worries about mental health and sexuality. Lucy doesn’t let a disappointing love interest stop her from exploring the breathtaking countryside and all of the charming characters that inhabit it. You’ll definitely want to move to Italy after laying your eyes on the view, the houses, and even the gorgeous pizza parlour where they grab a bite to eat.

Plus, this movie features a delightfully bitchy Rachel Weiss. What’s not to love?

—Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi