Let me just start this post by agreeing that affinity to travel is not hereditary.
Born to a military family, very few of my relatives find bliss in discovering new places and meeting new people. In fact, most of them seem content in going about their everyday rustics, no matter how bland or boring they may be.
And being in the immediate proximity of such people, helped me become somewhat aloof and shy during my childhood. It also limited the places I was able to go to. No field trips, no weekend getaways, and no fun. I was able to go to my first province at age 15.
But as I widen my sphere of influence, thanks to my days in the state university, I developed a keen sense of desire to break away from the confines of my daily routine, and get as far as possible.
Provided that I still didn’t have the guts and the finances to travel, but at early age of 16, I knew that my passion and interest lies in wandering through unfamiliar streets and looking at unfamiliar faces. Amid a sea of strangers, I feel completely happy.
And thanks to these movies, my desire to just pack my bags and go, just kept on building and building until there was no other option left but to do it. These movies, corny some may say, fed my wanderlust and shaped me into the traveler/adventurer I am today.
Before Sunrise (1995)
There is a romantic in each of us. The idea of finding a soul mate from another end of the world is just too much to resist. And as a wide-eyed freshman in 1999, it was difficult to get over this movie. Ethan Hawke was then, one of the most intriguing actors in Hollywood, barely years older than his character in Dead Poets Society and his portrayal of a backpacker in Europe was just accurate and the way he and Julie Delpy discussed various topics, from death to love, was just impressive. If you’re ever half the traveler you claim to be, you would know that starting conversation with a stranger, probably a fellow traveler is quite easy and you tend to discuss random, unrelated topics at a time.
And of course, you can deny it, but sometimes we tend to start conversations with people we are attracted to. Many years later, I would have a similar experience, through it was in Thailand and it stays with me even after quite a long time.
The gorgeous background that is Vienna is also obviously a driving factor for anyone to see this movie. Definitely, this is one of the many reasons why I wanna visit Europe and Austria in the first place.
The Beach (2000)
No, I was not a fan of Leonardo di Caprio but I find myself attached to his character Richard in this turn I of the decade travel adventure. Just like Richard, I was desperately in search of a place where I belong..away from my reality. Sure, they edited the looks of the beach and had to cut down trees in Koh Phi Phi to get the look they wanted, but Thailand just enticed me to travel. It was liked a mythical place where people from every nationality collide.
And no surprise, Thailand, was the first country I visited to backpack and the busy streets of Khao San Road because my annual birthday haunt. Every July, just before the full moon party, you will find me in KSR hanging out with different groups of travelers, drinking from our beer fountains and smoking pipes.
And in Thailand, everything comes full circle. If you visit KSR, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Pangan, you’ll be hard pressed to find a hotel or bar that doesn’t run The Beach on their TV monitors.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Long before Liz Gilbert’s Eat, Pray Love, travel fanatics have already adored Frances Mayes and her travel memoire Under the Tuscan Sun. C’mmon who will not love the idea of jumping off your usual travel tour and live in the gorgeous city of Tuscany in Italy.
Yeah, the movie may have been a semi-enjoyable chick flick starring Diane Lane, but it was the premise of the book and the movie that really inspired me. I always had dreams of just vanishing in a gorgeous city, preferably Europe or The Caribbean, and live there for the rest of my life. For travelers, vanishing is easy and I have met several people who were just supposed to travel for a few weeks but have been global citizens for months now.
I was also tempted to try such a feat in Siem Reap when several people offered me to be a bartender for $15 and an English teacher to Cambodian schoolchildren. I would have loved the experience but I guess I wasn’t ready yet.
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
No, I am not a supporter of communism but the realities seen by Fuser (Ernesto Che Guevarra) in his 8,000 motorcycle adventure around South America is just hard to ignore. The disparity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s of Latin America, the unjust treatment of workers and lepers in Peru are realities that changed him forever. His days of traveling, may have led to his quest for communism and for travelers, the realities we see as we explore unknown territories also change us.
My mom asked me one time, what I really get in my constant travels. And I told her, that I always try to find myself. That answer was quite vague and ambiguous.
But what I meant with that was finding yourself means knowing how you will react when presented with scenarios and realities different from what you have. Will these hings change you and bring our your innermost feelings and thoughts.
I saw this movie 9 times already and each time, it brings out a sense of duty in me. I may not have started a new political propaganda during my travels but I always try to give back to the communities I visit. Because if there’s one thing I learned from my years of wandering, traveling is not just about having fun, but also giving back.
Into the Wild (2007)
Imagine yourself, alone in an unfamiliar place. No loved ones, no possessions and far far away from the trappings of the modern world. You might find peace for a time, but how long can you survive in the ‘real world’. This movie, based on the story of Christopher McCandless inspires us to challenger ourselves but at the same time, reminds us of that no matter how alone we wanna be, and no matter how far we go to achieve that feeling of freedom, there are still limitations.
I have known several travelers who have abandoned the comforts of their daily lives in order to find that something missing in their lives. Perhaps, it is freedom, but I always find it funny and interesting that no matter how long we have been away, there is always that feeling of wanting to come back home. Not for your possessions, but for the people you love and for the people who love you back.
There is no doubt in my mind that in the near future, I would be able to drop everything and just travel the world. See things I don’t normally see in my normal life, meet more interesting people but I know deep inside, that there will always be a reason to come back home.
As what one line from the movie said, “happiness is only real when shared”
Update: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is now included in this list. Loved the cinematography
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants—Who can resist Santorini?
Seven Years in Tibet——–The Dalai Lama and the gorgeous city of Lhasa
Eat Pray Love———-Italy, India, Bali………among my favorite destinations