InspirationTRAVEL TIPS

5 Documentaries & TV Shows That Will Inspire You To Travel

Sometimes, as travel lovers, we need to find ways to satisfy our hunger for adventure when we aren’t on the road.  Luckily, we live in a time where books, movies, podcasts, TV shows, blogs, and social media provide an infinite amount of content to hold us over until our next trip.  Today, I want to talk to you about my favourite 5 Documentaries and TV Shows that will inspire you to travel.

5 Documentaries & TV Shows That Will Inspire You To Travel Cover Photo

I have watched many of these multiple times, and every time I do, there is always something new to learn.  And while I obviously wish I could see them with my own two eyes, I must admit that it’s amazing to see some of the world’s most incredible sights from the comfort of your own home.  Wine glass in hand.  Pants optional.  Oh yeah.


1. Departures

Departures is my favourite show of all time.  When my now-boyfriend of 5 years and I started hanging out, he would come over with a bottle of Wine and a hard drive full of Departures Episodes.  Is it any wonder that I fell in love with him?

What started as an independent documentary chronicling three twenty-something Canadian friends traveling the world for a year quickly exploded into a 3 season, 42 episode adventure that will leave you feeling breathless at times.  Go on a journey with Scott, Justin, and cameraman Andre as they explore the entire globe – from Canada to Asia to Africa to South America and everywhere in between.  The show is an open and honest account of life on the road, including the moments that leave you speechless, but also the moments that make you feel lonely, uncomfortable and unsure of yourself.  Follow along as the guys jump off cliffs in Brazil, have a drink with a king in Madagascar, camp on a Japanese island, live amongst a reindeer tribe in Mongolia, and so much more.  (, Available on DVD and iTunes)


2. The Kindness Diaries

I originally heard about The Kindness Diaries on one of my favourite podcasts, The Budget-Minded Traveler.  The host, Jackie, was interviewing a man named Leon Logothetis (what a name, hey!?) about his trip around the world on his bright yellow motorcycle.  Here’s the catch – Leon did this relying strictly on the kindness of strangers to feed him, give him somewhere to sleep, and fill the tank of his bike so he could continue on his journey.  I immediately got my hands on a copy of his book (also called The Kindness Diaries, also highly recommended) but when I saw that he had also made a documentary about it, Sean and I watched the entire thing in a single evening.

Leon’s adventure is broken down into 13 twenty minute episodes, and I guarantee that almost all of them will bring a tear to your eyes.  While Leon travels the world relying on the kindness of strangers, he and his crew are prepared to give back some pretty incredible and surprising gifts to those who help them the most.  I don’t want to give anything away, but please do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a half-day marathon of watching this incredible show.  (, Available on Netflix in Canada and some other countries)


3. Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain

Stunning scenery.  Drool-worthy food.  Questionable characters.  Anthony Bourdain has done an incredible job with Parts Unknown, and it is one of my favourite shows of all time…just make sure you have snacks handy, because it will definitely make you hungry.

World-famous chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain travels to far-flung and often times lesser-known places in this series in search of the best food.  From 5-star restaurants to the homes of locals to street market stalls, you will learn about the culture and the history of the places he goes as well as the gastronomy.  (Website Here, Available on iTunes)


4. A Map For Saturday

Possibly the best travel documentary I’ve ever seen, A Map For Saturday follows an ordinary young man’s year-long journey as he quits his job and explores the globe.  A brutally honest and intimate account of long-term solo travel, Brook Silva-Braga dives deep into the world of hostels, fast friends, faster romances, budgeting, loneliness and unimaginable inspiration that you can only find on the road.  Whether you’ve traveled solo or not, Brook’s story will have you reaching for your laptop to book your next plane ticket.  Like you needed another reason.  (, Available online and through Amazon in some countries)


5. Living On One Dollar

An unlikely candidate for this list, but one I just had to include, Living On One Dollar follows four young friends who set out in an attempt to live in extreme poverty for two months in rural Guatemala.  With only $1 a day, the friends face situations they’ve never had to deal with before like disease, hunger and lack of knowledge and skills that are required to live in such a vulnerable state.  Through the people they meet, the boys are able to rise above their challenges and gain a new understanding of what the world’s poorest go through every single day.  As inspiring as it is heartbreaking, this film may just change your life.  (, Available online and Netflix in Canada and some other countries)

What are some of your favourite travel shows, documentaries, and movies?

How do you stay inspired when you can’t travel?

Tell me in the comments below, tweet me, or have your say on the Facebook page.

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.


  1. I have seen Anthony in many cooking shows and always thought he was such an *ssh*le, but I actually do enjoy his travel programs, especially parts unknown and the layover.

    1. Oh he can be a TOTAL jerk. But that’s kind of half the reason why I’ve learned to love him. And yeah, I like The Layover too! I’ve only seen a few episodes because I’m trying to get through all of Parts Unknown, but The Layover is next on the list 🙂

  2. I absolutely love Anthony Bourdain. Never heard of departures tough and I will check it out for siure. Thanks for the tips. THere is also a documentary about 4 guys who went live in Haiti on one dollar a day after the earthquake. Interesting documentary. I think you can find it on youtube.

  3. What a great list! I’ve never heard of any of them so I’m now going to do my best to find every one of them and watch it. If I book a flight to somewhere in the middle of the night, I’ll blame you! =D

  4. I’ve seen 2/5 of these! Thanks for the other suggestions, they looks amazing!! Especially Living on One Dollar, I’ve seen little clips on Facebook but didn’t know it was a full documentary 🙂

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