If your childhood family vacation felt like less comical versions of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, trust me, you’re in good company. Between the stories I could tell of epic nose bleeds in any location even slightly more elevated than sea level to the time a flock of birds unleashed a wave of bodily fluids that would make that scene in Bridesmaids seem tame, I’ve come to accept my family is just not very good at traveling together. And, while some trips with friends over the years have improved my personal travel juju, I often find I have little time, money, or energy to spend on getting away from it all.
Instead, I find myself more and more often being an armchair traveler—happy to spend a weekend in with a bottle of wine, some popcorn, and a new place to visit through the powers of the internet. So, if you’re like me and can only travel as far as Netflix can take you, here are some different “journeys of a lifetime” (to every continent except Antarctica) that you can take in just a few hours:
The Road Trip
The road trip is the classic American travel story. And these films are the best of them—from the buddy film Thelma and Louise to the hilarious holiday travel nightmare Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. If you’re looking for a more offbeat trip, there’s always To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar about three drag queens (Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo, no less) who travel cross country in an old Cadillac convertible to compete in the “Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant” in Los Angeles. If Westerns are more your speed, it’s hard to go wrong rooting for outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And, of course, there’s the ultimate road trip—the surf documentary The Endless Summer, which just might convince you to spend your own life pursuing the elusive perfect wave until you realize a) you don’t know how to surf and b) Northern California’s water is really, really cold.
The Internal Journey
If you’re in the mood to reflect about the meaning of life, try Into the Wild (the true story of Chris McCandless’ fateful solitary journey to Alaska), Wild (the true story of writer Cheryl Strayed’s solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail) or Tracks (a woman’s 1,700 mile trek across Western Australia with just four camels and a dog). If the thought of even going solo to the grocery store makes you break out in hives, there’s always the opposite story: the journey back to love. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love (the food alone will make you feel surrounded by warmth), How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Under the Tuscan Sun will make even the most cynical viewer feel a little better about the world.