Backpacker? Luxury traveler? Beach Bum? Culture nerd? RV dad? It doesn’t matter – everyone has that itch to escape their day-to-day, even if just for a weekend.
Whether you prefer to surf in Iceland, lounge on the shores of Thailand, explore the streets of Vienna, or simply drive through the country, these movies will inspire your wanderlust and will make you wish you could leave your home ASAP.
10. The Beach
No summer movie list would be complete without this cult favorite. A secluded tropical island solely to yourself? Baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio? All Saints’ “Pure Shores” playing in the background? Yes, please!
Best quote: “Take me to the beeeaaaacccch!”
9. Castles In The Sky
No, not the war film. Shot by Taylor Steele in a span of three years, this under-the-radar surf movie was the first I ever watched and the only one that still sticks with me. It follows several famous surfers traveling to the farthest reaches of the world, from sunny Africa to snowy Iceland, doing what they love most.
What I adore about this film is hearing surfers talk about their style and what the sport means to them on a personal level as shot after shot of delectable hidden locations and perfect cutbacks play on screen. The film has a chill, authentic, wanderlust vibe that gives you a glimpse into the different cultures of the five countries they travel to. Castles In The Sky is a fresh surf movie with an open, aching heart. It has minimal dialogue and a whole lot of indie music your ears will thank you for. Since when has a surf movie made you catch FEELS before? Now, I say. Now.
Best quote: “There was once a man who became unstuck with the world, and each person he met became a little unstuck themselves… He traveled only with himself, and he was never alone.”
8. Before Sunrise
Ever daydreamed about finding yourself during one of your travels? Let this wonderful movie indulge your fantasies. Set in scenic Austria, French girl Celine (Julie Deply) meets and is convinced by American guy Jesse (Ethan Hawke) to get off a train in Europe and explore the city of Vienna for one night only. It’s full of great dialogue and has an innocence that most of us don’t give freely in real life when we travel solo.
Best quote: “I wish I’d met you earlier. I really like talking to you.”
7. American Pie 2
Miss your old school buddies? Why not rent a beach house for your reunion and make a pact to have the best summer ever? Crazy antics, a couple of laughs, and nostalgic youth. This sequel is one of the sequels I don’t completely hate and will probably make you want to call all your friends to plan your own summer vacay, too.
Best quote: “Holy shit dude. I found a dildo. Dildo. Dildo. Dildo. Big blue rubber dicks for everyone!”
6. Mamma Mia!
I watch Meryl Streep on my screen anytime I can, but Meryl Streep singing? And glorious shots of Greece?! If the breathtaking views of this historical country’s emerald waters, delectable food, whitewashed architecture, and postcard sunsets don’t tempt you to go on a relaxing holiday, I don’t know what will.
Best quote: “But I love Sky. I love Sky more than anything.”
Ridiculous is the word to describes this movie. It can be funny in a very teenage way with its inappropriate jokes and stereotypes. Still, something about it makes this movie an easy watch and is one of my go-tos to guffaw at. Who WOULDN’T want to backpack through Europe as a graduation treat?
Best quote: “[after being told they’re stuck in London] Europe is like the size of the Eastwood Mall. We can walk to Berlin from there.”
4. The Bucket List
The number one reason I travel for my summer vacations is because I want to see as much of the world as possible before I die. If only we were all millionaires like Jack Nicholson and were only limited by our imaginations. The Bucket List will make you smile, want to spend your next day off in a remote location, question your existence and probably cry.
Best quote: “Everyone’s afraid to die alone.”
3. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
If you ignore Britain’s problematic history with India and that this movie features rich British retirees saving an old hotel (and its employees) in India from ruin, this flick is pretty good! It does a wonderful job of showing how charming India is and how luxurious it is to stay in a hotel with a staff that genuinely enjoys their jobs. It has engaging storytelling and reminds us that you don’t need to be young to revel in life and adventure.
Best quote: “Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected. Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.”
Never mind that I live in Denmark; it has nothing to do with the fact that director Mark Raso did a magnificent job at capturing the beauty of this little city.
A guy spends his vacation in Copenhagen in search of relatives and lets the audience have an exciting tour of the city in the process. The cast, acting, and script are more than excellent, and the shots of familiar Danish landmarks and hidden corners will make you want to bicycle here — stat.
Best quote: “You know how I told you that, um… I never saw my father smile? I saw him smile once. The day he left.”
1. National Lampoon’s Vacation
If road trips are your thing, especially with the fam-bam, then this one’s for you! National Lampoon’s Vacation is practically a classic and is the quintessential summer comedy movie. Watch it to see why it’s on almost every summer movie list ever.
Best quote: “Fuck yo mama!”
Sade Andria Zabala is a twenty-four year old Filipina surfer sometimes living in Denmark. She is the author of poetry books War Songs and Coffee and Cigarettes. Her work has appeared on places such as Literary Orphans, The Rising Phoenix Review, Hooligan Magazine, Germ Magazine, and more. In her spare time she likes to eat words and drink sunlight. You can purchase her books here.