Best TV Shows to Inspire Wanderlust

Hiking Nuwara Eliya

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We all have our Netflix guilty pleasures. I mean, there has to be some reason shows like The Bachelor have stuck around for 99 seasons, and I don’t think it’s because they inspire deep intellectual conversations.

Our TV picks typically revolve around our favorite hobby: travel. When our travel fund is depleted, we’re low on vacation days, and we don’t have any trips on the immediate horizon, binge-watching an inspiring travel show is one of the best ways to satiate our wanderlust.

These are some of the best TV shows to inspire wanderlust:

TV Shows to Inspire Wanderlust

Departures

Scott and Justin are two high school friends who decide to put their life on hold for a few years so they can travel the world. Scott is a Type A overachiever; Justin is a junk food-loving party boy who just wants to have a good time. Together, they embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Following along on their travels is certain to make you want to hop on a plane to, well, just about anywhere.

I especially enjoyed this show because Scott and Justin are fellow Canucks!

Watch it here.

Planet Earth


In the epic cinematography department, Planet Earth certainly takes the prize. The David Attenborough-narrated documentary series offers an up-close, high-definition look at exotic natural habitats around the world. From the tiniest insect to the largest sea creature, the footage in Planet Earth will leave you in awe of our incredible planet. Of course, Attenborough could read me a toaster manual and I’d enjoy it.

Watch it here.

Covert Affairs


Annie Walker is a linguist-turned-CIA field agent. Her hunt for high-level targets inevitably leads her to fabulous locales around the globe.

Though Covert Affairs is not a “travel” show in the strictest sense, the globetrotting nature of Walker’s job will make you wonder if you missed your calling as a polyglot CIA spy. Business trips to Paris and a never-ending supply of Christian Louboutin stilettos? Sign me up!

Watch it here.

Rick Steves’ Europe


No person is as worthy of the moniker “Travel Guru” as Rick Steves. His iconic guidebooks and television show have inspired countless Americans to pack their bags and finally embark on that European adventure they’ve always fantasized about.

Watching Rick Steves’ show is bound to get your feet itching. Not that we ever need much of an excuse to plan a trip to Europe.

Watch it here.

Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table is the perfect show for globetrotting foodies. Each episode tells the story of a world-renowned chef. Not only does the show take the viewer on a culinary adventure but it also offers viewers a glimpse into fascinating foreign cultures.

Just don’t attempt to watch this show on an empty stomach. Things could get ugly.

Watch it here.

The Durrells in Corfu


Tired of life in dreary England, Louisa, a widow, packs up her four eccentric children and relocates to the beautiful Greek island of Corfu. After settling into a dilapidated shack of a house, they experience frequent missteps as they adjust to their new life as expats.

Sam and I love this show because it’s hilarious and the setting is postcard perfect. It was one of the primary inspirations for our anniversary trip to Greece earlier this year!

Watch it here.

Somebody Feed Phil

Somebody Feed Phil

In Somebody Feel Phil, Phil Rosenthal, the writer behind Everybody Loves Raymond, eats his way through different cities or regions of the globe. And I honestly never knew I could so thoroughly enjoy watching someone else eat! The food looks delicious, the scenery is fantastic, and Phil is a riot. It’s pretty well impossible to watch this show without smiling.

Watch it here.

Tales by Light 

Tales by Light

Each episode of Tales by Light profiles a different photographer from around the world. From the rivers of Brazil to the African plains, these photographers will stop at nothing to get the perfect shot.

Watch it here.

Long Way Down


In this documentary series, actors Ewan McGregor (of Star Wars fame) and Charley Boorman travel from the north of Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa, on their motorcycles. Their journey takes them far off the beaten track and showcases parts of Africa the typical safari-going traveler would typically miss.

This series is especially great for travelers who are interested in Africa!

Watch it here.

Amazing Hotels

Amazing hotels

If you love luxury hotels (or are simply curious to see how the other half lives), Amazing Hotels is the show for you. In each episode, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti visit luxury properties in exotic locales. Whether an Eco-lodge in the remote Ecuadorian rainforest or a skyscraper in a bustling metropolis like Singapore, these unbelievable properties will tempt you to hand over your next six paychecks in order to experience one up close.

One interesting twist about this show was the Giles and Monica don’t simply enjoy the hotels as guests. They temporarily join the hotel staff to experience the hotel from both sides of the equation.

Watch it here.

Crossing Lines


A special Netherlands-based crime unit is tasked with tracking down crooks whose criminal activity has crossed European borders. What differentiates this show from other crime dramas is the fact that each episode takes the team to fantastic European destinations. Granted, they are typically in pursuit of a viscous, psychopathic killer. But no city is perfect!

Watch it here.

VOX Borders 

vox borders

In each episode of VOX Borders, filmmaker Johnny Harris examines the dynamics around some of the globe’s most controversial borders. The episodes are short, so you can easily plow through an entire season in one sitting!

Watch it here.

Doctor Who 


A sci-fi show about a Doctor from a foreign planet who travels around the universe in a police box  defeating Daleks and saving lives.

Though not a typical “travel show,” Doctor Who will definitely have you itching to set out on a new adventure! Though, sadly, you’ll likely have to travel the old fashioned way–by plane.

Watch it here.

Human Planet 


This eight-part documentary series explores various civilizations around the world. From the arctic to the desert, Human Planet shows how people have learned to survive—and thrive—in even the most hostile environments.

Watch it here.

What series would you add to this list?


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Best Travel TV Shows to Inspire Wanderlust

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