8 Travel Shows to Help Fuel Your Wanderlust
Updated: Jul 26
We all need a bit of escapism from time to time, and the [tragic] reality is that we can't all travel constantly, so if all you need is just an evening of travel inspiration and/or imagining you were somewhere else, then here are a few ideas as to how to what you can settle down in front of.
Somebody Feed Phil
By far one of my favourite shows out there, presented by Phil Rosenthal who is not only hilariously funny and animated but so great with the people around him in whatever context. The show is a great combination of food and travel inspiration, showcasing both gourmet and street food in some pretty incredible locations all around the world. He's been to places on every continent, celebrating not only some quality food and talented chefs but the cultures and traditions of each place, all of which are beautiful and beautifully done. One of my favourite things about Somebody Feed Phil, however, is the way that he goes up to random strangers and invites them to eat with him so that he can share the joy - in a word: wholesome.
Available on: Netflix
Race Across the World
What a show. If you're unfamiliar with Race Across the World, the basic premise is that teams of 2 are given a starting point and a finish line, and they have to reach the latter by any means possible except flying. Along the way, they have various checkpoints to reach and at the end, the winning team receives a £20,000 prize. So far, the teams have raced from London to Singapore and from Mexico City to Ushuaia. The thing I love most about this show is that it allows contestants and viewers alike to get into the nitty-gritty of some real down-to-earth travel: the joys of backpacking on a budget; discovering unexpectedly beautiful places; street food; interacting with local people, and so much more. Read more on what I think we can learn from Race Across the World in my previous post about it.
Available on: BBC iPlayer; Sky On Demand; Apple TV
North Korea from the Inside with Michael Palin
Michael Palin is one of the UK's most respected travel presenters and let's face it; pretty much all of his documentaries are fantastically done. However, my firm favourite of these is North Korea from the Inside. Given North Korea's political situation, it's extremely rare, to say the least, that we in the West might see behind the scenes of this secretive country, and so this documentary is absolutely invaluable in my opinion. It's a fascinating place, which seems to have amazing natural beauty in some places as well as some great traditional food, though it's never possible to lose the sense that the crew were watched closely every step of the way, which of course they were. However, as Michael Palin does, he always remains non-judgmental of foreign cultures whilst giving the viewer an incredible insight into what North Korea is really like - I honestly can't recommend it highly enough.
Available on: My5; Amazon Prime; Apple TV; Google Play
The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals
Know where you want to go but not where you want to stay? The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals goes from country to country finding amazing accommodation in each place: one budget option, one luxury option, and one option that comes with an amazing experience attached. The 3 presenters - Luis, Megan, and Jo - have backgrounds in real estate, interior design, and the travel industry respectively, so the combination of their expertise means that they're able to find some phenomenal places! They've stayed in villas, ranches, treehouses, and even caves, all of which seem to provide amazing accommodation experiences, and great bases from which to explore the surrounding area.
Available on: Netflix
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown is another travel-foodie programme, and it's a good one. The late and great Anthony Bourdain takes us here, there, and everywhere on a fantastic and food-filled journey, even sitting down to share a meal with some famous faces like Iggy Pop, Barack Obama, and Bill Murray along the way. True, it is similar to Somebody Feed Phil - in fact, I believe that the whole premise was actually based on Parts Unknown after Bourdain sadly passed away in 2018 - but both are still absolutely worth a watch. One of the things I love the most about this show is that it doesn't shy away from talking about the difficult parts of a country's history or politics, which often gives a really powerful insight into what life is really like for the people that live there, but without forgetting to celebrate its positive aspects.
Available on: Amazon Prime; UKTV Play; Google Play; YouTube
Joanna Lumley's Silk Road Adventure
The Silk Road Adventure is one of those programmes that really highlights the magic of the places it showcases. Joanna Lumley guides us through the length of the ancient Silk Road, from Venice to Eurasia to the Far East. Although most if not all of her travel shows are fantastic, what I really appreciate about this one in particular is that it shows us an area of the world that is often forgotten and underappreciated. Eurasia and the Middle East have a lot on offer but have generally been ignored in favour of other travel destinations, so it's a breath of fresh air to see these areas portrayed in such a favourable light on mainstream television and to get some amazing insights into the cultures and daily lives of the people that reside there.
Available on: ITV X; Amazon Prime
The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan
Perhaps one of the more unorthodox travel shows out there, but I can't say I didn't rate it. In Misadventures, comedian Romesh Ranganathan goes to the places that no one else seems particularly interested in visiting, such as Haiti, Romania, Mongolia, and Albania, all of which have some surprisingly great experiences on offer. He's brutally honest about each country (though on 1 or 2 occasions I'd say he's maybe a little bit too honest, but nevermind) so for those looking for some travel inspo, it's a brilliant watch because you get a review that's not sugar-coated in any way, but also suggestions that will take you almost completely 'off the beaten track'. That being said, it's pretty lighthearted so it'll probably give you a good laugh as well!
Available on: BBC iPlayer; Amazon Prime; Apple TV; UKTV Play; Google Play; YouTube
Simon Reeve's South America
Anyone who knows me knows that South America has my heart, and I don't think I've seen anyone present it better than Simon Reeve. He's another presenter that has several amazing shows, but of course, this one was a real highlight for me. What I love about Simon Reeve's programmes is that although he still showcases the immense beauty of each destination, he's uncompromising on the things that really matter. There's nothing wrong with enjoying shows about culture, food, and architecture (I mean, the rest of this post would be irrelevant if there was) but within all of those delights, if we lose our compassion for people and animals and our concern for the environment then we're missing the point. As someone who has lived in and is passionate about Latin America, it's so refreshing to see it presented as it truly is: vibrant, complicated, colourful, poverty-stricken, joyful, steeped in tradition, diverse, and exquisitely beautiful.
Available on: BBC iPlayer; Apple TV
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All programmes listed above stated as available according to UK availability.
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