photo: Sundance Film Festival
Go behind the scenes or in front of the camera with travel quests inspired by movies and film-making
by Jennifer Mitchell
Much like books inspire us to explore new destinations, great films introduce us to beautiful landscapes, bustling cities and other walks of life. They have the power to metaphorically transport us to different time periods and foreign destinations. We quickly become immersed in another world, escaping real life for just a few hours.
At No Small Plan, we couldn’t help but come up with a few ways to turn this popular form of escapism into an escape. Beyond traveling to destinations portrayed in films—which we think is a fantastic idea—we have a few fresh takes on how to create a movie-inspired travel quest for movie buffs in need of inspiration. So, without further ado: lights, camera, action!
1. Walk the red carpet with a film-inspired travel quest
For those who get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of the film industry, create travel plans to visit the top 10 most prestigious film festivals in the world. Not only will you watch premieres of some of the best movies of the year, but you’ll have the opportunity to rub elbows with the Hollywood elite. You may even consider getting your ticket to each festival autographed by one of your favorite actors or directors, so you’ll have a keepsake of your adventures.
While most film festivals offer tickets to the public, some like Cannes, will require a little more creativity. But have no fear, it’s been done before. To learn how to persuade a celeb to hand over a coveted ticket, check out People Magazine’s tips for scoring a ticket to Cannes. Spoiler alert: you’ll need a sharpie, some cardboard and a tuxedo.
2. Go behind the scenes with a movie-themed travel quest
If your interest in film production overshadows your awe of celebrities, make a list of your top 10 favorite movies or movie scenes, and visit the locations where they were shot. Seeing buildings and landscapes that were caught on film will make you feel like you have VIP backlot passes for all your favorite films. Rom-com fans should start with the bookshop from Notting Hill. Comedy lovers should be sure to visit the fire station from Ghostbusters. And those who love drama—or at least dramatic movies—can visit the Shawshank State Penitentiary from Shawshank Redemption. No matter where you start, there’s no shortage of shooting locations around the world to inspire your travels.
Because visiting filming locations is a fairly common travel plan—after all, Lord of the Rings fans essentially put New Zealand on the map—many travel companies have put together movie-themed travel tours, or you can design your own. Whether you’re looking to visit the most popular shooting destinations or multiple locations for a particular film, there’s a movie-themed tour for you. For inspiration on where to travel, check out these popular filming destinations from Travel + Leisure and Oscar-worthy movie tours from U.S. News.
photo: Kara Walsh
3. Pass the popcorn in movie theaters around the world
If you love watching films on the big screen, try to see a movie in 20 countries, particularly films produced by or starring actors from the country you’re visiting. Though it might feel odd to travel halfway across the globe only to sit in a dark, familiar movie theater, you’ll be exposed to new films, filmmakers, styles and genres that offer a fresh perspective on life. You’ll widen your worldview, and who knows, you may even discover a new style of filmmaking that sets the stage for a new interest. Even if the film is not spoken nor sub-titled in a language that you’ve mastered, you may be surprised how much you can pick up, especially if it’s a comedy, since laughter is universal.
Another great advantage of this travel quest is that it allows room for other interests to inspire your travels as well. How about combining your film-related travel quest with your ambition to visit all 50 U.S. states by visiting the coolest movie theater in every state? Or merge your film and architecture travel quests by seeing a film in the world’s best movie theaters, many of which are architecturally significant.
4. Film a documentary about your travel quest
When crafting and working on a travel quest, we recommend documenting your travels and experiences. Whether you drop pins on a map, keep a journal or snap pics on Instagram, your quest will come alive with each entry. If you’re proficient in film production, consider filming a documentary about your travels—or create a thesis and let your documentary dictate your travels.
Whether you’re attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world or discover your ancestors and where you came from, capturing your adventures on film will lead to an even more fulfilling experience. Plus, you’ll have a work of art to share with the world once your quest comes to an end.
However you decide to let film inspire your travels, we’d love to hear about it. Share your movie-inspired travel quest ideas in the comments below or share destinations you’ve visited that fit into one of these four categories.
Once your quest has been planned, don’t forget to create your map, which can be turned into shirts, tanks and totes with No Small Plan. And be sure to check out additional ideas for travel quests inspired by art, recreational sports and architecture.
That’s a wrap.
Jennifer Mitchell is a blogger, comedian, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast.