Aug 08

Have you seen any travel-related Movies?Most people love to watch movies. Travelers are no difference. In most Bars in Thailand, movies are shown every sunset on a TV or even on big screens.

In Vang Vien in Laos, Travelers sit in restaurants and watch “Friends” episodes all day and night long; surely the smoky atmosphere there helps a bit to be in the right mood.

Then there are movies about Travel and Travelers.

Somehow those are basically pretty scary, after all traveling is dangerous, right? But there are the odd romantic and thoughtful flicks as well, which will blow your mind, make you shed a tear or at least entertain you for a good 100 minutes.

Let’s start with 5 tougher examples of the above stereotypes:

The Beach Moview Poster The Beach, 2000 with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton

Tagline: “Paradise has its price.”

Location: A lonely beach in Thailand (hence the name)

Intellect to Popcorn Ratio*: 3:5

The Low-down: I remember reading Alex Garland’s book “The Beach” in 1996 in a hang mat on Roatan/Honduras. It was a gripping story and I spent almost 3 full days reading it with as few breaks as possible. When the film version was released in 2000 directed by Danny Boyle (better known from his movies “28 Days later” or “Nightwatch”), the movie received more negative than positive reviews. Although, upon seeing it again recently, I must admit it is actually pretty good. Of course they left out plenty from the book, changed the ending and raped Maya Bay near Koh Phi Phi to get the best shots for the flick – but still it’s an entertaining film.

So yeah, it’s basically about an American traveling to Thailand. He has some strange adventures but learns about the perfect beach and tries to find it. On arrival there, things will change forever.

Goose-bump moment(s): When Richard is “forced” to have sex by/with Sal for keeping “their” secret. As well, when Richard and Francoise jump into the water and start glowing due to the plankton surrounding them.

Real Life Connection: Plankton actually works this way! I used to breakout from work with week-long dive trips to Egypt back in the 90’s and had more than one experience with plankton like this. During a night dive, you could rub your arms under water and it would start to glow. A truly magnificent sight! You float in the dark in the middle of the universe with strange lights all around you. Out of this world!

Hostel Hostel - Movie Poster, 2005

Tagline: “Welcome To Your Worst Nightmare”

Location: Eastern-European City somewhere in Slovakia

Intellect to Popcorn Ratio*: 1:4

The Low-down: This movie received a lot of hype previous to its release, due to the involvement of Quentin Tarantino as a producer. Also there were rumors that people had to be carried out of the cinema at its first screening at the Toronto Film Fest, due to its drastic scenes. That helped to fuel the hype and drove people into the cinemas. If I remember correctly, it came out around the same time as the original “Saw”, but most people liked the latter better. Nevertheless, if you are a horror and splatter fan, this can be your film.

The story is pretty plain forward: some young twenty-somethings travel through Eastern Europe and hear about the sex-mad women of Slovakia. Of course they want to check them out. So it opens like a teen sex comedy, but soon reveals its true colors. The amount of blood, gore, innovative hack and slash techniques is outstanding, but can be a bit numbing towards the end. Sex is the lure to get people trusting and leaving their mind at home, jumping right into their own disasters.

It has a lot of racist and sadistic moments and somehow leaves you with a strange feeling in the stomach, even after its ended. You have to give it credit though of having influenced the genre with plenty of copy cats with similar story lines coming after it.

Goose-bump moment: I can’t recall a specific moment in the movie. It was overall quite a creepy experience for me. But the feeling that there could be a place where rich people can simply pay money to abduct and torture a human being to death is mind boggling.

Real Life Connection: At, a viewer left a comment I want to quote here: “One should also note the historical context of the film. This is an American movie, about torturing people, made at a time when America, right or wrong, is receiving flak for torturing prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere, and makes no mention of the current world situation. It’s also worth noting that the audience I watched this picture with cheered and applauded at each new horror. It all seemed so Circus Maximus.” – Amen!

Turistas Movie Poster Turistas, 2006 with Josh Dushamel

Tagline: “Go Home.”

Location: The beaches and jungles of Brazil

Intellect to Popcorn Ratio*: 2:5

The Low-down: Josh Dushamel usually makes more headlines with whom he is engaged (currently Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas) than with his acting, but in this flick he is pretty good.

What’s it all about? A mixed crowd of international travelers gets stranded when taking an overland bus instead of a plane through beautiful Brazil. A nearby dream beach bar is helping to ease the tensions and soon everyone is engaged in all kinds of entertainment, singing, dancing, having sex and enjoying Brazil’s beauty in their very own way. The morning after will leave them not only with a hangover, but robbed of all their belongings and due to some stupid actions with the hate of the villagers. Now a road trip starts, accept there are no roads; but jungles, waterfalls, crazy locals, caves and a strange house in the middle of nowhere. Add some meat/organ hunters and plenty of splatter like flying fingers and chopped off limbs and you have the recipe for a blood-freezing thriller. The story is pretty similar to ‘Hostel’, but overall a bit more polished for the eye.

Goose-bump moment: When being chased in the underwater cave, Bea is losing her torch and panicks while searching for the next air bubble. Everyone who is a bit afraid of drowning – this scene will make you cringe and choke.

Real Life Connection: The movie actually has a realistic background and a believable storyline to start with. Of course everything is a bit exaggerated in the typical Hollywood fashion. That doesn’t change the fact, that things like killings for organs happened already in China and South America. So yeah, watch out what you throw at your livers and kidneys! ;-)

Gone Gone - The Trip of a Lifetime, Movie Poster, 2007

Tagline: “The trip of a lifetime.”

Location: East Coast and Outback, Australia

Intellect to Popcorn Ratio*: 4:4

The Low-down: I saw this one recently on HBO. Didn’t find a lot of reviews about it, though most of those pretty underrated. The movie is more like a psycho thriller, in which a British couple, Alex and Sophie, meet up separately in Australia, to backpack together. Sophie arrives a few days later, little does she know, that Alex was traveling meanwhile with a charismatic American, Taylor, who has its own agenda. The 3 decide to travel together and a game of manipulation and awkward moments starts. It’s an interesting triangle situation, battle of the sexes and display of primal and even stupid traveling behavior. Who is with whom and whom is to trust? The film changes a bit into a road movie with a surprising, non-typical ending.

Goose-bump moment: When Sophie discovers Alex’ cellphone in the pocket of Taylor. Suddenly everything is clear, but that doesn’t make her situation any better. On the contrary!

Real Life Connection: The whole movie reminded me somehow of one of my own trips to Down Under in 07/2001, when British tourist Peter Falconio was kidnapped/shot somewhere on Highway 87 in the Northern Territory. He was traveling with his girlfriend and they stopped for someone who asked for help. Soon all hell broke lose and only his girlfriend could escape with a pool of blood being everything what was ever found of Peter. I passed the area on the exact same day and was wondering about the Police presence in the area. Do we sometimes trust too easily?

The Ruins The Ruins - Movie Poster, 2008

Tagline: “Terror has evolved”

Location: A sunken Mayan Ruin somewhere in Mexico

Intellect to Popcorn Ratio*: 0:4

The Low-down: Ahem. Some twenty-somethings travelers hear from some German dude about some cool Maya ruins in Mexico and decide to check them out on their last day before flying home from their all-inclusive resort. Then disaster strikes and they fight for survival. Does the story sound familiar?

Pretty girls in mini skirts and tank tops in search of a special place, making stupid decisions, getting punished for it? Oh yeah. Add some alien/ancient/strange species this time. Certainly innovative. This one is a mere popcorn movie, simply enjoy the beautiful landscapes, some splatter and what’s left of our travelers. On there is a funny thread “101 things I learned watching The Ruins“, which makes fun of the many faults of the movie. An example, “number 11: When you REALLY need help, you will try to ask the guys who shot dead one of your group members in the first place.”

Still the movie has its moments, especially when you take it as what it really is: a Horror Holiday Comedy. Oh yeah – and Greeks ARE always drunk or too late. ;-)

Goose-bump moment: When Mathias fell down and broke his legs and developed an infection. So the legs had to be cut off with a small butter knife. He dies the same night. Don’t laugh! No logic here, but surely horrifying.

Real Life Connection: Uh, oh. This is a tough one. None? ;-)

Okay. So much about the more horror thriller or action travel movies. What do you make out of them?

Did you enjoy watching one or more of the above movies?

Which typical examples are missing here?

In the second part I will have a look at some other genres of Travel/Traveler movies. We will see some higher numbers in the intellect category. I’m sure most people know Lost In Translation, Under the Tuscan Sun, L’Auberge Espangole, Borat (NOT!). As well I’m currently re-watching Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. So stay tuned or add your Travel Movie recommendations via the comment form below!

*** Oops. I almost forgot to explain the Intellect to Popcorn Ratio. Intellect is obviously how smart, thought-through or innovative the movie is, popcorn means how watchable. Both numbers can reach from 1-5 (okay, they might get a 0 if they are really below par), with 5 being the highest. By adding those you can have the overall rating of the movie on a scale from 1-10. The closer to 10 the better. Full numbers only, but then, for a better detailed review, it’s always good to check out the Internet Movie Database at, for bio data, stats and plenty of user comments and reviews. ;-)

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written by Chris

23 Responses to “5 Travel Movies that will give you Goose Bumps”

  1. Nomadic MattNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    The beach is really good! I don’t like the whole video game scene but the rest of it is great even if none of it is like the book.

  2. Backpack EuropeNo Gravatar REPUBLIC OF KOREA Says:

    I’ve only seen the Beach out of the above. I’m a coward so I have avoided gory films like Hostel and Wolf Creek, the latter of which is apparently in the same vein as the tragic Falconio murder you mentioned.

    I enjoyed The Beach, but detested Leonardo DiCaprio’s character – a cheeky, dislikable oik if ever I saw one, who muscles in on someone’s relationship and generally acts like an utter twat. I seem to remember from the book that the lead character was clearly painted as fallible, a flawed person, but I recall in the film he was more the typical Hollywood hero. But it’s ages since I’ve seen and read them, so I might be mistaken ;)

    Almost Famous is an enjoyable road trip/music/coming of age flick you might enjoy… Little Miss Sunshine is a cutting family road trip with a classic ending… I’ll rack my brain for some others!

  3. Mark HNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Quite enjoyed both The Beach and Gone.

  4. MikeNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    You should definitely include Wolf Creek. Similar, but more scary than gone and has elements of a true story.

  5. Top 5 Funny Travel Movies | HostelBloggers UNITED STATES Says:

    […] our cue from Chris, who’s just posted a list of the Top 5 Travel Movies to Give you Goose Bumps over at Nomad4ever, Hostelbloggers have been banging our heads together over a similar subject – […]

  6. EpicurienneNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I really enjoyed this post. More please!
    Even though it sounds gruesome, I’ll be checking out Hostel. The only one I’ve seen out of these 5 is The Beach.
    FYI one of my all-time favourite feel-good travel films is Under The Tuscan Sun. Definitely less gory.

  7. Carnival of Travel Blogs | Nomadic Matt's Travel Site UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Nomad 4 Ever is giving his list of five scary travel movies. […]

  8. amandaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Just when I was looking for some stuff to do to kill time on planes ! Thanks for posting ! ;)

  9. Budget TravelNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Would the movie ‘Wolf Creek’ count? These were British backpackers I believe who were lost in the outback.

    the scariest fricken movie i ever saw!

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Guys, I had the chance of seeing the movie ‘Wolf Creek yesterday – and you are definitely spot on! It is one of the better travel horror movies.

    And yes, as it came out in 2005 it probably influenced movies like ‘Turistas’ or ‘Gone’. Especially the scenes where they find the passports of the other missing travelers or the scene with the ‘flying fingers’ (“that’s what I call a knife!”) are definitely stolen from ‘Wolf Creek’, when you see ‘Turistas’.

    Goose-bump moment in ‘Wolf Creek’ for me: when the girl tries to start the car in the garage and suddenly the killer appears behind her with the knife. Uaahhhh! What a ‘head on a stick’. :-o

  11. MarcNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    You might want to consider adding “the Art of Travel” and “Motorcycles Diaries”

  12. Linda PoseyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I just rented “The Art of Travel” on Netflix and fell in love with that movie! I was so dam entertained and now I want to sell everything I own and go and travel the world! Has to be one of the top travel films I’ve ever watched.

  13. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Did you know that the book “The Beach” was inspired by Palawan and Boracay according to the writer himself who stayed in the Philippines for a while?

    “Garland spent six months living in the Philippines. Much of that experience was incorporated into “The Beach,” which he purposefully set in Thailand. “That’s because Thailand is more of a Mecca for a certain kind of travel, the kind of backpackers in the book,” he explains. “And I wanted to write a certain kind of book about travel.””

  14. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Yup Marc, the Motorcycle Diaries is quite nice! Can’t wait for that new movie with Benicio del Toro as Che. Don’t know about the “Art of Travel”, but Linda Posey seemed to like it as well.

    Ryan, I heard about it, that he wrote The Beach in the Philippines, but didn’t take it too seriously, as plenty of places make such claims. But your link and info sheds some new light to that theory. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Gonçalo APNo Gravatar PORTUGAL Says:

    nobody considers “Into the Wild” one of the best Travel Movies,…?!

  16. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Goncalo, I heard about that one, but haven’t seen it yet. That’s the one directed by Sean Penn, no? So you can recommend it? Cool.

  17. Lassi from FinlandNo Gravatar FINLAND Says:

    I agree with Goncalo, the movie “Into the wild” is a good traveller movie.

    It is not one of those great movies, but very thought-provoking. The book is even better.

  18. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Lassi and Goncalo, I saw “Into the Wild” now a few weeks ago. Didn’t even get the title until after the movie. It was quite interesting and followed the idea of Thoreau somewhat, to go into the woods and live a simple life. Didn’t know that it was based on true events. Interesting, interesting…. :D

  19. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I rarely watch movies but get to see the movie Turistas on DVD. It was entertaining and some of the facts may be believable such as the harvesting of internal organs that usually happen in some countries… But maybe the killing is naturally an exaggeration typical of a Hollywood movie…

  20. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Ops, IP problem? Australia flag is indicated beside my name. I’m still in Manila, Hehehe…

  21. Myrna PipkinsNo Gravatar CHINA Says:

    Hi, You have some really Great articles on your blog. I also like the theme and the layout as well. Nice work!

  22. Nepal TravelNo Gravatar NEPAL Says:

    I am fan of Leonardo since Titanic and watched The beach also. The beach is simply awesome travel movie ! The list wouldn’t have been perfect without it.

  23. SheilaNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    You also should include A Map for Saturday. It’s a movie documentary of a backpackers life. This movie made me want to travel more!

    Now downloading turistas and gone. I have watched all the movies in this blog except gone.

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