It’s a big world. How you choose where to travel next, and what inspires you to select that destination is a personal thing. Being television junkies, many of our travel decisions are influenced by travel shows. Here we share a few of our favourites.
Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach are friends who dreamed of travelling the world together. And they did. Alongside cameraman and friend Andre Dupuis. Departures’ 42 episodes focus on their journeys, rather than their destinations. Don’t expect to see shots of Paris or Rome – Departures focuses on regions off the beaten path.
What’s most enjoyable about Departures is the sense of travel realness and imperfection. The cultural interactions are genuine, the discomforts not overlooked, and individual celebrations sincere. Scott and Justin have perfect balance: they play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses and it benefits them as a team. These three Canadian boys do us proud, not forgetting their manners and displaying a high level of respect towards all places and people they encounter. The show was nominated for 13 Canada Golden Sheaf Awards and won 5.
The series originally aired on OLN. Now all three seasons can be enjoyed on Netflix.
What’s our favourite episode? Mongolia: Tribes and Tribulations (Season 2, Episode 6)
Andrew Zimmern is a travel guru and professional foodie with an iron stomach. In Bizarre Foods he navigates the globe in relentless pursuit of unusual regional delicacies. With vivid description, he describes texture and taste but also covers the history and importance each food has to a local area.
Zimmern is the reason Bizarre Foods is justly one of the best travel shows of all time, he is everything a host should be. He finds unique foods that would make most of us gag and balances them against those we really want to try. With confidence he does his best to appreciate ethnic dishes that Western society would typically wrinkle their noses at. And he reminds us that “not all foods ‘unique’ are found in exotic locations” (seasons 7-12 take place in North American cities.)
Currently airing its 15th season, Zimmer and his bizarre foods can be enjoyed Monday’s on the Travel Channel.
Here’s our favourite episode:
Premiering in 1984, Globe Trekkers was the original adventure travel series. It was inspired by the renowned ‘Lonely Planet’ travel books. With 200+ episodes, there are few places this program and its thrill-seeking guides have left to explore. They find the places all of us travellers dream of experiencing an open the door to explore what the destination offers.
Each episode follows the same general format: a host takes viewers on a quest to discover a certain destination, travel route or cultural experience. Apart from the all too familiar train sequences and grainy camera filters, the likable host portrays each region respectfully. The host’s in-depth regional knowledge of each destination is complemented by ways to be sustainable and thoughtful travellers.
Episodes can be found on several networks: PBS, OLN and Travel Channel.
Best of the bunch “The Silk Road 1: Xi’an to Kashgar” (Season 16 Episode 6) and this one:
Follow skilled travel bloggers and Word Travels’ hosts Robin Esrock (South African) and Julie Dimon (Canadian) to the far corners of the earth as they attempt to capture their travel experiences in ‘words’. Travel often leaves us speechless, making it difficult to put into words. Add to that the fact that imagery and feelings often need to be experienced first-hand to be appreciated. Word Travel clearly demonstrates the challenges travel writers have in coming up with unique ways to captivate people and entice them to a destination.
The co-hosts are very different and both shine light upon what makes the places they visit interesting to them. Robin is an all-out adrenaline junkie, while Julie is motivated to discover unique cultural rituals and hidden gems. Watch the season one finale in New Zealand, and you’ll see what we mean by differing perspectives and travel experiences.
Watch reruns and new episodes on OLN and National Geographic Adventure. Or check out their YouTube channel.
Here’s a highlights reel:
This was another mini-series and isn’t really about travel, but it would be unfair for me to leave out Planet Earth. All our blog posts (including this one) are meant to inspire and excite you, whether you currently live a life of travel or dream to. No series inspires quite like BBC’s Planet Earth which focuses solely on the gifted natural beauty of our planet.
Each episode takes you on an adventure across vast lands and turning oceans. The series is a journey of life throughout the animal kingdom and the landscapes showcased are simply the most beautiful this world has to offer. While watching the cinematic views of dense jungle and rugged mountaintops, something deep down grabs your soul, enticing you to go out and cultivate a greater connection to the world around you. To feel the full force of this majestic series, get it on blue ray, dim the lights above your favourite resting spot and watch in complete peace. We promise the next 24 hours will be spent researching the next adventure to wherever your heart feels it belongs. Sir David Frederick Attenborough performs the narration poetically; he’s like a British Morgan Freeman, perhaps better.
You can buy the complete series online, in-stores or watch the whole thing on Netflix.
Of course this is only a sampling of the many great shows out there. And TV is only a sampling of the many great sources for travel inspiration. Share with us where you go to find your next destination.