If the COVID19 crisis has you feeling anxious about travel, you’re not alone. Countless travellers experienced their worse-case-scenarios when the pandemic hit and these stories have left many of us fearful of travel. But we believe that the benefits of travelling - even just short weekend trips - give you more than just a change of scenery. We believe that travel has the power to expand people’s horizons and change them for the better.
If you need a little push or reminder of why travel is worth it, take inspiration from these brave travelling protagonists. We rounded up ten of our favourite travel-themed books and films with main characters that overcome adversity, encounter life-changing experiences, meet amazing people and come home transformed in a good way.
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ is a classic read regardless of whether you travel or not. But if you do, the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who embarks on an epic journey in search of treasure is sure to stir up the adventurous spirit inside you. Though the story is fictional in setting and time, the experiences such as walking into a local bar as a foreigner, are relatable.
What is best about The Alchemist is the important life lesson the boy learns about his search for treasure. Most travellers hit the road in search of something, even if it is just to see something new. The Alchemist teaches us how to we can take what we experience while we travel to enrich our lives at home and reminds us of the importance of both.
Wild - Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed had been through the worst by the time she reached twenty-two. She had lost her mother, her family scattered and her marriage fell apart. Four years later she decided on impulse to attempt one of the most challenging hiking journeys in America - the Pacific Crest Trail which leads you from the Mojave Desert in the south all the way up to Washington State.
'Wild’ is truly an amazing story of a woman who forced change into her life by undertaking an epic journey alone, with no experience or training. Strayed is a brilliant writer, whose book will enthral you with suspenseful storytelling, relatable warmth and humour. The film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon is just as inspirational for those that prefer film. It also has the bonus of beautiful scenery from the Pacific North West. Wild is an against-all-odds journey of a woman in the wilderness, but is ultimately a journey towards healing that we can all take lessons from.
P.S. I Love You - Cecelia Ahern
'P.S. I Love You’ is a romantic drama that centres around Holly and Gerry - a very relatable Manhattan married couple. That is until Gerry unexpectedly loses his battle with a brain tumour. The loss of her husband leaves Holly understandably lost and distraught, but post-humous letters from Gerry give her a sense of direction and hope for moving forward with her life.
His letters take her and a few friends to his homeland of Ireland, where her adventure takes her on a journey toward self-discovery and healing. With Gerry’s letters and the support of those around her, Holly learns to live and love again. P.S. I Love You is a beautiful story about appreciating the life you have and the people in it, and is a reminder of how travel can change your perspective in a good way. The film is based on a novel that is equally as enchanting by Cecilia Ahern.
Love with a Chance of Drowning - Torre DeRoche
'Love with a Chance of Drowning' is a book written by author, Torre DeRoche, as she recounts her experience with sailing on the Pacific Ocean with her boyfriend. The catch is that DeRoche has a crippling fear of the ocean. DeRoche isn’t someone you would expect to go on an oceanic voyage - she is a city girl from Melbourne - but when faced with the hard decision of choosing to sail away with the love of her life or watch him sail away alone, she decided to jump into the sailboat. DeRoche has a special talent for descriptive writing. The way she describes the ocean allows the reader to vividly picture her surrounds, even if the middle of the ocean is uncharted territory. Her accounts of the mishaps that occur on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean have to be read to be believed. Love with a Chance of Drowning is a fun and inspiring read about broadening your horizons, relationships and how an unexpected journey can change a person in unbelievable ways.
Richard Wright’s Travel Writings - Richard Wright
Richard Wright is most famous for his memoir ‘Black Boy’ originally published in 1945, but his collection of travel writings are an amazing source of inspiration for travellers, particularly people of colour. Richard Wright was born in Roxie, Mississippi; first relocated to Chicago then New York, and finally fled the United States and landed in Paris in 1946 where he stayed as an expat.
Richard Wright has an interesting perspective on travel because of his Black ancestry and his experience in the United States. He writes about travel as one of the first Black travel writers and explores themes of post-colonialism, foreign cultures, politics and socialism. His is not a typical narrative of lost and found but is one of learning. This book gives the reader insight into what it is like to travel from a Black perspective and give us valuable lessons for how to travel as global citizens.
Tracks - Robyn Davidson
'Tracks’ is the film adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name that recounts her journey through outback Australia in the 1970s. Davidson leaves her life in the city to trek almost 2000 miles from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean accompanied only by her dog and four camels. She eventually meets Rick Smolan, a National Geographic photographer who captures her journey and provides some companionship.
Davidson's story is an amazing reminder of what a person can achieve if they put their mind to it, and of how a journey can bring out your strength and character. It is also considered a feminist adventure story which is sure to inspire intrepid women to head out into the world once again.
Lion - Saroo Brierley
'Lion’ is a biographical drama that tells the true story of an adopted young man’s quest to find his birth family. After getting separated from his family in Burhanpur at the age of five, Saroo ends up being adopted by an Australian family. Twenty-five years later he returns to India in search of his birth parents.
Lion is an emotionally moving story of survival, family and the search of identity. It’s impossible not to be moved by this film, which is filled with gorgeous cinematography, stunning acting and is at its core, a human story filled with heart.
Like Father (2018)
'Like Father’ is a light-hearted comedy about a woman trying to bond with her estranged father on a cruise after she is left at the altar. The film stars Kristen Bell as Rachel, a young workaholic executive who goes on her honeymoon cruise with her father (Kelsey Grammer), with whom she has a fractured relationship. With the help of her fellow cruisers, a few hilarious adventures and many cocktails, the father-daughter relationship is mended and Rachel is able to move on with her life in a healthy way. It is a great reminder of how travel can bring people together - both family and strangers alike. It’s also a wonderful reminder of how new experiences can bring you a better understanding of yourself.
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ hit the world by storm as a book and again as a film starring Julia Roberts - and for good reason. It tells the story of one woman’s life-changing journey on a solo trip to Bali, India and Italy in a very relatable way. Gilbert is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. She has a great career as a writer, a loving husband and a beautiful home, and yet feels unfulfilled.
So, she dismantles her life and embarks on a journey abroad to get her out of her comfort zone and back to herself. If you’re a traveller, it’s easy to picture yourself doing everything that Gilbert does while she’s on the road. In her travels, she discovers the joys of food, love and spirituality that she’d lost and is able to find the direction she needs to live a more fulfilled life.
With these heroes and heroines, and the stories of their journeys, the world should seem a little less daunting. Do you have a favourite novel or film about travel? Please share yours in the comments below.