The Movies and Music that Inspired Us to Travel in 2009

Man playing flute

Man playing flute. Photo by monkeyboy1.

What inspired you to travel in 2009?

Earlier this week, bloggers shared which books inspired them. Today, we have a dozen bloggers sharing which movies and music inspired them to travel this year. Again, it’s fascinating to see just how varied their sources of inspiration can be — people find travel inspiration in everything from the Bourne soundtracks to Indiana Jones and Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia
Recommended by Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere Travel Blog

I had the pleasure of visiting Jordan in 2009 and I made it a big priority to visit Wadi Rum. The sole reason I visited Wadi Rum was because of my love of the movie Lawrence of Arabia which was filmed on location in Wadi Rum. I first watched Lawrence of Arabia is glorious 70mm in 1988. I have since had the pleasure of seeing it three more times in theaters in 70mm and have seen it countless times on DVD. Lawrence of Arabia is my favorite movie of all time and visiting Wadi Rum was the highlight of my time in the Middle East.

Available from Amazon.

Eden by Syros

Recommended by Nora Dunn from The Professional Hobo

I’m happy to put 2009 to bed. In February I saw gorgeous communities destroyed (and was evacuated myself for a month) during Australia’s worst natural disaster: the Victorian Bushfires. It set the scene for a year of slow and painful recovery of the people, houses, and the land around us.

My boyfriend Kelly and I volunteered full-time in the recovery efforts, and are happy to have made a positive difference. In addition to volunteering, Kelly was commissioned to compose an album for a bushfire art exhibition. He did so, pouring the emotion of the event into his music. Listening to this album helps me reflect, relax, and regain hope. It reminds me of the many ways we can be of assistance around the world – every day. I encourage people to listen (free) to this album (Eden by Syros); $5 from the sale of each CD goes towards ongoing bushfire relief efforts.

Available from ReverbNation.

The Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles

The Magical Mystery Tour
Recommended by Greg Wesson from Greg Wesson’s Esoteric Globe

Living is easy with eyes closed, said the walrus. Inspiring words to remind us to not take the gift of life for granted and be concious of the choices we make. On the three days sight-seeing I spent in Liverpool, I couldn’t stop humming Magical Mystery Tour. Liverpool is a city that is impossible to walk through without looking at it through Beatles-tinted glasses. For inspiring me both to live with my eyes open and go and visit the Mersey-side city of Liverpool, Roll up… Roll up… for The Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles, released 1967.

Available from Amazon.

Oracular Spectacular by MGMT

Oracular Spectacular by MGMT
Recommended by Scott Shetler from 9000 Miles

I spent this summer traveling the country in a van, inspired by several songs, in particular “Time to Pretend” by MGMT, an ode to living for the moment. Andrew Van Wyngarden sings, “This is our decision, to live fast and die young/We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.”

The lyrics are a bit tongue-in-cheek but are inspiring nonetheless: “What else can we do? Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?” As someone stuck in a 9-to-5 job when the year began, that line hit home and reminded me there’s so much out there to do and see in the world.

Oracular Spectacular is a fun album of psychedelic-tinged pop music, and while the other songs on it aren’t as directly inspiring as “Time to Pretend,” they do make for enjoyable listening while cruising down the road.

Available from Amazon.

Out of Africa

Out of Africa
Recommended by Neelima from The Wandering Soul’s Wander Tales

Out of Africa is a brilliantly taken movie which follows the life of Karen Blixen in Kenya as she struggles to keep up with the coffee plantations, a marriage of convenience and an affair with the aviator/hunter – Denys who prefers freedom over anything else. The cinematography is simply mindblowing and is aptly supported by a haunting musical score.

Adventure, romance, exotic locales and bittersweet farewells make this movie an interesting watch – and even more so for a travel freak. The free spirit of Denys is something that many can relate to. After watching the movie, I have a stronger urge to visit Africa and experience the wilderness someday soon.

Available from Amazon.

Putamayo Presents: Paris

Putamayo Presents: Paris
Recommended by Mara Gorman from The Mother of All Trips

Putumayo is a label that puts out delightful albums of world music. I love their CDs, both those for adults and kids, and find they often inspire me to think of traveling to places I’ve never been (my younger son has been lobbying for a trip to Hawaii every since I checked Hawaiian Playground out of the library).

But my favorite CD concerns a place I have visited and with luck will return to many times again. It is simply called Paris and the music on it, although it is all new and original, is in the classic style called chanson. Think Parisien café life around 1959 and you get the idea – it’s the fastest way I know to feel chic and French. Although my family didn’t take a trip to Paris in 2009, we did spend two weeks there in 2008 and this CD was our favorite in the car this past summer as we traveled for 3000 miles in our small sedan across the prairie in Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Looking at those enormous stretches of sky, I easily imagine myself sipping a demi in the Café de la Paix, which I plan to do as soon as possible. And the best part? Putumayo donates part of the proceeds from their sales to organizations like Oxfam and Amnesty International in the countries where the music comes from.

Available from Amazon.

The Bourne soundtracks

The Bourne Ultimatum soundtrack
Recommended by Matt Morelli from Here to Geneva

I’ve long been a fan of the Bourne films starring Matt Damon. I love the realism, camerawork and that the focus is on character and plot development more than it is on action. Earlier this year, I downloaded the three soundtracks to listen to as I took the Eurostar under the English Channel from London to Paris. In the third film, Bourne does this himself, only he went the other way. Even so, I found that the soundtrack complemented the journey perfectly, to the extent that when I marched towards the buffet car to the rhythm of the music, I felt I might have been becoming Bourne himself. Now, whenever I listen back to the soundtracks, I reignite my passion for travel.

Available from Amazon:

Indiana Jones — The Complete Adventure Collection DVD

Indiana Jones — The Complete Adventure Collection DVD
Recommended by Dave from The Longest Way Home

I nearly feel like apologizing for even mentioning this as travel inspiration. But truth be told I have this DVD in my laptop as I travel. It serves as a little protection for my DVD drive, and when ever I feel like a little pick me up or inspiration for going off the beaten path I’ll pick one of the four movies at random. While I do cross my fingers that “Crystal Skull” does not pop up too frequently, there’s no getting around that all four movies do get one’s travel heart a pumping.

And at Christmas, there’s no getting away from these classic travel adventure movies. Just let that theme music start!

Available from Amazon.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman, The Philosophy of History and Yellow Submarine

Best of Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Recommended by Chris Fink from Hoboxia

My journey was undertaken with the express purpose of creating a novel, one totally unrelated to the actual travel, so I’m of two minds how to answer this. It would be a challenge to come up with what inspired the choice to build a bed and bookshelf into a Honda Element and take the project on the road for a year, but I think I’ll go with some items that inspired the book, though the sources are myriad, it’s a bit of fun to distill it to one tumbler per category (all sparks from oh so many years ago):

Born Into Brothels

Born Into Brothels
Recommended by Sherry Ott from Ottsworld

Over 4 years ago a movie came out that inspired me to travel, and more specifically volunteer during my travels. Born Into Brothels is a heartbreaking and inspiring documentary that was awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2005. A documentary photographer went to Calcutta to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriended their children and offered to teach the children photography to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. The children were given film cameras to learn photography and possibly improve their lives. Camera crews followed the kids through their daily lives and struggles (that’s the heartbreaking part) however, much of the children’s work was used in the film. The children’s work was eventually exhibited, and a book was produced of their work that is sold all over the world. A stunning look at a culture through the eyes of a child and what a difference you can make if you just take the time to befriend and teach them. I ended up volunteering in Delhi, India teaching computers and English – the highlight of my around the world journeys.

Available from Ottsworld Travel Store

The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries
Recommended by Jon Brandt from Travel Guy

If we’re talking about movies, then I have to go with the almost cliché by now, The Motorcycle Diaries. I realize that this was listed in last years’ discussion, but the fact remains that it has inspired me to explore South America top to bottom. Maybe what touched me more was seeing it while living in Ecuador, and truly understanding that scenery of the Andes and the issues they spoke of. It made me want to find every little town and talk to as many people as possible, if for nothing else than to understand it all a little better.

For the books, I’m going to take a slightly different route and say it was reading so many blogs out there that got my interested. Every time I read someone’s blog talking about the Salt Flats in Bolivia or a random river boat trip in the Mekong, it gets my so interested and thrilled that I want to book the next flight to wherever and get started on my own adventure. Looking at the amazing pictures taken by regular people, whether it’s on a blog, an article on the Matador Network, or someone’s newsfeed in Facebook, it makes me want to get out there and do it on my own.

Available from Amazon.

Into the Wild

Into the Wild
Recommended by Alice Griffin from Fanciful Alice

I watched this with my husband a couple of months back and the beautiful scenery, haunting soundtrack and thought-provoking words really imprinted themselves on our minds… the next morning as I laid in bed looking all wistful, he said “We are not going to go and live in an abandoned bus in Alaska … I know you, you get ideas!!” and no, we’re not – although a month or so in Alaska is probably on our travel wish list. But, it made us think about why we travel and we are always drawn to the freedom that the open road brings. It was a perfect film for us wandering and restless types – about a young man keen to leave behind the material world to go in search of … well, I’m not sure – finding himself? Finding beauty in nature? Finding truth in life? Anyway, whatever you take from it there are messages, not least about being true to ourselves and living life out as an adventure … and always having that spirit for adventure. That’s kind of how we are and therefore, it certainly inspired us to keep trying for a life less ordinary.

Available from Amazon.

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Discussion »

  • #1John R.

    Good list, but you need some Genghis Blues…..

  • #2April

    I love the Bourne movie but my heart goes out to the Indiana Jones movie series ever since I was a kid. Watching the film made me feel that adventure was my calling and I wanted to go to exotic places like Africa, India, Cuba, Caribbean Island and much more. Thanks for sharing…love your blog…


  • #3Sherry Ott

    After just re-watching it – I have another movie to add to the list – Revolutionary Road

  • #4Scott

    The movie that inspired me to take this year’s trip was “The Story of the Weeping Camel.” It is a Mongolian made movie and is so well acted that at times I thought it was a documentary. The cinimatography was really amazing; the beautiful landscape and sparse population really attracted me to Mongolia. Of course the trans-Siberian Railroad is a “must do” for any “veteran” traveller – so I thought I’d roll the two together. Mongolia turned out to be as spectacular as I imagined it after this movie…

  • #5Worldwide Travel Recommendations

    This is a great list!

    I would also nominate several of the James Bond movies. A good one is Octopussy, which has some great scenes from around the area of Udaipur (India), as well as From Russia With Love, which takes place along the route of the Orient Express.

  • #6Sonya

    Thanks for this thought-provoking story on movies and music that inspired us to travel in 2009. Last year, I watched the Bourne trilogy of movies again and again…

  • #7TangoAna

    Thanks for this interesting blog !!!!!

    Last year it was my inspiration ….THE MOULIN ROUGE…and MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

    El Tango De Roxanne – Moulin Rouge

  • #8ohtallinn

    I love the “Into the wild”. I have watched this movie couple of times and for months i was thinking to do the same thing as the character. I don’t know what holded me back, maybe too scared to do actually do it but this still remains a secret dream.

    Thanks for the read!


  • #9syuk

    OMG ! into the wild! i watched it countless times, INSPIRATION of A PURE LIFE, BACKPACKER who SEES FREEDOM EVERYWHERE! :)

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