Don’t have any travel plans this long weekend, but looking for inspiration for your next big trip? Netflix is a perfect starting point as the popular streaming network is brimming with interesting and innovative travel programming.
No other broadcaster does natural history with the verve and authority of the BBC and this eight-part series from 2011 is both informative and visually stunning. With John Hurt narrating the aim is to convey the sweep of human civilisation and the degree to which we have reshaped the planet in our image. But even if you’re the sort who thinks “anthropology” is a shop that sells scented candles, the show will appeal as it makes for an absorbing travel documentary. One moment we are surfing in Hawaii, the next swimming with barnacle collectors in Galicia and visiting underground aqueducts in Algeria. Human Planet makes you want to fling wide your front door and hit the open road.
Culinary tourism is booming and the thrill of high-end dining in exotic locations is breathlessly conveyed in this original Netflix series. We visit Francis Mallmann of El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Magnus Nilsson of Sweden‘s Fäviken and Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York. A feast for foodies obviously but a compelling travelogue too. Arriving on Friday 27 May series two will cast the net even further, visiting Sao Paulo, Slovenia, Peru and Moscow.
Street Food Around the World
Continuing with the gastronomic theme, this fast-paced travelogue follows host Ishai Golan as he samples street bites from Turkey to Tbilisi, Vietnam to Vienna. There’s a genuine sense of veering off-the-beaten track as he journeys to destinations such as Palermo in Italy, Nazareth in Israel and Mexico City.
Another timeless wonder from the BBC, Planet Earth pairs David Attenborough’s classic goose-bump narration with gorgeous aerial shots of galloping wildebeest and whales splashing about. In addition to ranking as one of the great nature shows Planet Earth is an invitation to pack your suitcase and see the world. If you don’t want to rush and book a safari STRAIGHT AFTERWARDS, we give up.
Long Way Round / Long Way Down
This two-hander from Ewan McGregor and best mate Charley Boorman communicates the giddy glee of striking out on the open road better than anything else on television. Long Way Round sees the swashbuckling duo crossing Eurasia by motorbike and becoming embroiled in endless scrapes along the way. The sequel chronicles a biking trek down the spine of Africa. What both have in common is a sense of going into the great unknown, where delights and potential setbacks lurk around every corner.
21 Days Under the Sky
Driving across America is for many the ultimate holiday dream. The excitement of zooming toward a limitless horizon is perfectly conveyed in this chronicling of a 3800-mile bike ride across the heartland, starting in San Francisco and taking in the Lincoln Highway to New York, the oldest coast to coast route in the United States. Along the way, our quartet of biking enthusiasts find time to stop off at small towns and bask in the gorgeous sweep of some of America’s grandest landscapes. As travel journal, 21 Days Under The Sky is mesmerising, with gorgeous direction by esteemed photographer Michael Schmidt.
The ultimate backpacking adventure, Departures follows two footloose Canadians as they travel the world and broaden their horizons. Series one sees them make their way to Jordan, India, Japan, Thailand and New Zealand while subsequent seasons stop off in Brazil, Libya, Mongolia, Chile and Indonesia. What elevates the series is its wide-eyed enthusiasm. The opposite of jaundiced travellers, presenters Scott Wilson and Andre Dupuis are genuinely curious about the cultures and people they meet. Their sense of derring-do is infectious.
The majesty of America’s first natural park is captured in this BBC documentary, which chronicles a year in the life of the vast nature reserve (straddling Wyoming, Montana and Idaho), from a winter so cold it produces the famous “diamond dust” effect to scorching summers in which the great beasts of the High Plains vie for resources. For anyone contemplating a trip to a natural park in the US, Yellowstone will close the deal.