Travel movies – Lone man or woman

Last modified 14.11.2022 | Published 15.12.2016Travel

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This is a list of travel movies, in particular about a lone man or woman off to discover the world and him-/herself.

This article is part of a series of great travel movies. Find the other articles at the bottom.

Here are eight travel movies from this rough category of a lone man or woman. We are in a series of articles hunting good travel movies, and here is a collection of a special kind. If life is in ruin, everything is miserable, or on the contrary if life is good but you are missing excitement in your daily routine, what do you do?

You take a break, go for a hike, discover the world on a physical level, and yourself on a metaphysical level. This article covers a number of movies that could be categorised as travel movies. I have of course seen them, I have enjoyed them and I would certainly recommend all of them.

Previously on Sandalsand, you have had the opportunity to browse 20 Great Travel Movies. This next collection of films is a continuation of that list, and is by no means to be understood as being of inferior quality or the like.

It is just that I need to split my suggestions into several articles. The following list is about the loners, men and women. The next article will deal with the groups set out on the same mission, i.e. moving from place to place with the intention of challenging his or her mindset. Check out the different lists at the bottom of this post.

Eat, Pray, Love (2006)

“A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to “find herself”. (IMDb)”

Julia Robert’s portraying a grown woman discovering herself and the world, at home in New York, in Italy, in India and in Bali. There are more films with a slightly depressed, middle-aged female character and a plot roughly like this one, albeit in different locations: Under the Tuscan Sun (mentioned in a previous article) and Shirley Valentine to mention two. They are all worth seeing, but you may not want to do it a sequence.

Shirley Valentine (1989)

“Shirley’s a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husband’s chip’n’egg, wondering what happened to her life. She compares scenes in her current life with what she used to be like and feels she’s stagnated and in a rut. But when her best friend wins an all-expenses-paid vacation to Greece for two, Shirley begins to see the world, and herself, in a different light. (IMDb)

I haven’t seen this movie in years but I remember it as warm, funny and entertaining with a bit of life experience to learn from. Two Oscar nominations.

If you believe there are only middle-aged women who have been portrayed in travel movies like these, think again.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

“When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. (IMDb)”

Ben Stiller’s portraying an office worker turning global nomad. The humour is warm, the photography from Iceland and the Himalayas is splendid.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (2013)

“After living a long and colorful life, Allan Karlsson finds himself stuck in a nursing home. On his 100th birthday, he leaps out a window and begins an unexpected journey. (IMDb)”

I really loved this movie, not only because it is Swedish and I finally came up with a non-American movie, but also because it is so sweet, funny and surprising. The plot is not only about what is happening here and now, but also a look back into the past of the 100-year old man – and what a past!

The Way (2010)

“A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself. (IMDb)”

This is the most famous pilgrimage in the Christian world and very long indeed. The movie invites us to tag along with Martin Sheen and others in search of peace of mind – and laughter. Starting out on his own, with the ash of his cremated son in a box, Tom is soon joined by others. Joost from Amsterdam trying to loose some weight, Sarah from Canada trying to quit smoking, Jack from Ireland trying to ease his writer’s block. Their diversity does not make them an obvious group, yet they manage to stick together. Also, their motivations for taking the “camino” also hint that not all pilgrimages are for religious purposes.

Then we have the movies with the young loners, adventurous, leaving everything behind.

Into the Wild (2007)

“After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. (IMDb)”

Here’s the first of several movies showing men and women in their twenties seeking adventure in natural surroundings, away from families, friends, careers and the noise of the city. This particular movie received good critics from near and far, and should definitely be on your list of favourite travel movies. Two Oscar nominations.

Tracks (2013)

“A young woman goes on a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with four camels and her faithful dog. (IMDb)”

Based on a true story, this road movie invites us onto the great Australian outback and desert. Mia Wasikowska plays the young, very determined woman who wants to ride across the land on a camel. Rather she walks alongside the animals using them to carry her goods. This is a quiet yet entertaining movie that shows us that we can accomplish anything, if we’re bent on it. The look into the culture and life of the Aboriginal Australians is particularly interesting. This movie is a fine addition to this category of travel movies about a lone man or woman off to discover the world and him-/herself. 

Wild (2014)

“A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy. (IMDb)”

Wow, another woman solo tripping across a continent. Featuring Reese Witherspoon this movie shows a desperate and determined young woman trying to get away from it all, by taking a long hike along a part of the Pacific Crest Trail. This movie is good, and it is based on a true story by Cheryl Strayed. The Trail from the Mexican to the Canadian border is tough, (2,659 miles or 4,279 km) and so is this filmed hike in everything from physical to mental stress. I have not read the #1 selling book, but the movie was so good that I gladly included it in my list of great travel movies.


The simple criteria I have used to compile my lists are these:

  • The plot involves a movement from one place to another, at least for some of the characters in the movie.
  • The plot is set somewhere else than what a character is familiar with. He or she is challenged by this fact.
  • I must have seen the movie myself and I must have liked it.

All articles in this series of great travel movies:

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