Suffering from a serious case of travel withdrawals already? Here are nine of the best travel shows on TV to help soothe your wanderlust.
1. Ugly Delicious
Technically a food show that also takes on travel, Chef David Chang’s, Ugly Delicious, is a beautiful combo of both things beloved by us all. Chang travels the world talking to his guests about their upbringing, life, and passions and of course all the while eating their way through the city of choice. The real beauty of it is the informal style that feels more like you are along for the ride with Chang and his guest as opposed to a separate viewer. This has put this brilliantly loose format for a travel show top of the list. Available on Netflix.
2. Billy Connolly: Journey to The Edge of The World
Legendary Scottish comedian Connolly is well known for his love of travel. Of all of the series he’s brought to the world, this has to arguably be one of the best. In the summer of 2008, Billy set sail on a ten-week journey from ocean to ocean: from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by way of the Northwest Passage – a fabled route deep within the Arctic Circle that has thwarted explorers and fortune-hunters for centuries. His delivery is personal and anecdotal which not only gives an insight into the places he’s traveling and the people he meets but peels away the fascinating layers of his wonderful mind. Available on Amazon.
3. Larry Charles’ Dangerous World Of Comedy
Acclaimed TV and film comedy director, Larry Charles, travels the world seeking out how comedy is done in war zones, on Indian reservations, in theocracies, in slums, and beyond. This is the sort of show that takes you deep inside the jagged and uncomfortable edges of the world. It’s a part behind-the-scenes look at TV comedy around the world and a part subversive travelogue with a keen eye on finding the grey areas of life and comedy in places few dare to travel. It’s also only one-hour episodes, making it the perfect binger. Available on Netflix.
4. Dark Tourist
Most tourists like to visit popular sites and attractions, like beaches, stadiums, and museums, while on vacation. There is a subset of tourism, however, that involves visiting places that are historically associated with death and tragedy. Journalist David Farrier focuses on that area of travel, known as dark tourism, in this docuseries. In each episode, Farrier travels to a different locale to visit destinations and have experiences that wouldn’t be on most vacationers’ bucket lists. He embeds himself in a death-worshipping cult in Mexico, sees tourists soaking up radiation left behind in Fukushima, meets vampires in New Orleans, and travels to the most-nuked place on Earth for atomic swimming and fishing. Lovely. Available on Netflix.
5. Night on Earth
This is a nature documentary series with a difference. The makers have revealed the wonders of the nocturnal world never previously seen before. Following the lives of wild creatures in the dead of the night, from monkeys in the city to whales in the ocean, the show documents the habits and activities of a diverse set of creatures by nightfall. Orange Is The New Black actor Samira Wiley narrates with style and intensity that perfectly compliments the tension and beauty of the cinematography and soundtrack. If you are a behind the scenes fiend check out their Night on Earth: Shot in the Dark to see how the series was made. Available on Netflix.
6. The Americas with Simon Reeves
Simon Reeves is one of TV’s lesser-known and much underrated British travel journalists. His likable, down to earth delivery takes us along for the ride to some of the most captivating places on earth courtesy of the BBC. He tackles and breaks down complex environmental, sociological and economical topics into easily digestible episodes that are shot and told beautifully. This is one of his many series that have included trips across the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Australia, Africa, Colombia and many more. We recommend you check out as many as possible for easy and educational travel viewing. Available on Amazon.
7. Michael Palin’s Around the World in 80 Days
Author, actor, and former Monty Python member, Michael Palin, has been presenting top-notch travel series for decades and this one has become somewhat of a classic in the travel documentary ranks. A seven-part BBC television travel series first broadcast on BBC1 in 1989, the show was inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days, in which a character named Phileas Fogg accepts a wager to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days or less. Palin was given the same challenge and the same deadline, and not allowed to use aircraft, which would’ve made completing the journey far too easy. He follows Phileas Fogg’s route as closely as possible, coming across plenty of challenges along the way. His reliably charming and insightful commentary on the sights and cultures he encounters along the way are a must-watch for any travel buff. Available on Amazon.
8. An Idiot Abroad
Veering into the world of travel comedy, An Idiot Abroad is the brainchild of British comedian Ricky Gervais. The rather cruel intention is to send fall guy Carl Pilkington, someone who has rarely left their own home town, off into the bewildering prospect of the most extreme foreign destinations. It’s a dream journey for most, but Pilkington has reservations, to say the least, especially considering Gervais and co-host Stephen Merchant want him to become “one with the locals” at each stop. Somewhat of a cult classic in British comedy, if you haven’t witnessed the sheer comedic buffoonery of Pilkington then you haven’t lived. Available on Amazon.
9. Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father
Comic Jack Whitehall and his father, Michael, are like an odd couple – the son is jovial and the patriarch is stuffy. So traveling together makes for an interesting dynamic, as viewers experience in this travelogue series. Jack invites Michael to go with him on a trip through Southeast Asia in an attempt to try to strengthen their bond. Along the way, the Whitehalls partake in a number of unique experiences, including attending an elephant polo match in Bangkok and taking a primitive train ride in Cambodia. When it’s over, the father and son reflect on the impact of their journey. Subsequent seasons take the father-son duo to other parts of the world. Available on Netflix.