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18 Epic Adventure Travel Movies Like Into the Wild

Love the film 'Into the Wild'? These 16 adventure travel movies like Into the Wild explore similar themes of self-discovery, isolation & escapism.

A good travel film can transport you to a far-flung location without the need to leave your living room. But the best travel movies often lead you on a different journey: One of self-discovery.

Here are 18 adventure travel movies like Into the Wild that are guaranteed to leave you feeling contemplative, energised, and ready for your next journey into the unknown.

All of these films are available on Amazon Prime and some can be streamed on Netflix. I’ve included a link to access each one – plus, for a bit of fun, I’ve also added my favourite inspirational quote for every movie on the list.

More film inspiration: 25 travel movies like Eat Pray Love.

Love the 2007 biopic 'Into the Wild'? These 15 travel movies like Into the Wild explore similar themes and are bound to inspire your wanderlust.

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18 epic adventure travel movies like Into the Wild (biopics, dramas and comedies)

Travel has a way of expanding the limits of your comfort zone – and these 18 movies like Into the Wild prove it. Live vicariously through these spirited, bold protagonists who push themselves to their physical and mental limits in search of something (or in some cases, nothing) beyond the ordinary.

Some of these films are about overcoming adversity; others are about escaping reality. Some document journeys that must be taken alone while others tell of individuals who are humbled by nature or form unlikely friendships on the road.

If you liked Into the Wild, Sean Penn’s classic biopic about a young man who hitchhiked across the US, chances are you’ll love these 18 travel films like Into the Wild that explore similar themes of escapism, isolation, adventure, and self-discovery.


Jungle

One of my favourite lesser-known movies similar to Into the Wild, Jungle (2017) is a biopic based on true events that unfolded in Bolivia in 1981.

“This is the last frontier on earth. The jungle shows us what we really are.”

Karl, Jungle

The film follows Israeli adventurer, Yossi Ghinsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe), as he attempts to trek deep into the Amazon Rainforest. After a series of unfortunate events leaves Yossi stranded and disoriented, he must fight to find his way back.

Jungle is a story of mental endurance and physical survival in the harshest conditions. Filmed in Colombia and Australia, the majestic backdrop is a reminder of nature’s wild and unpredictable beauty – the very thing that drew Yossi to the Amazon in the first place.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Wild

One of my favourite films like Into the Wild, Wild (2014), is yet another adventure biopic that brings a seemingly impossible journey to life on the screen. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of the same name, the film follows her quest to walk the Pacific Crest Trail.

“I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it.”

cheryl, wild

For Cheryl (played by Reece Witherspoon), it’s a deeply personal voyage of self-discovery and healing. She puts her body on the line, but in the end, her biggest triumphs are all psychological as she overcomes self-doubt and makes peace with her mother’s death and the breakdown of her marriage.

Despite numerous challenges, she digs deep and after more than 90 days, completes what she set out to achieve. This movie also touches on the theme of solo female travel and the particular challenges women often face when travelling alone.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


The Loneliest Planet

Instead of a single protagonist, this adventure movie centres on a young couple, Alex and Nica (‎Gael Garcia Bernal‎ and ‎Hani Furstenberg)‎ – both of whom discover a lot about themselves, and each other, as the story unfolds.

The Loneliest Planet (2011) has mixed reviews, but it’s truly one of the most haunting and memorable travel films I’ve ever watched. The plot is simple: Whilst on holiday, the couple hire a guide to take them backpacking through a remote mountain pass. When things go array, survival mode kicks in, resulting in some unexpected consequences. Both characters are forced to examine themselves (and their relationship) and their priorities.

I watched The Loneliest Planet long before I visited Georgia for the first time, not realising it was filmed in the Caucasus mountains! The film’s extremely sparse dialogue (no quote to mention for this one!) and slow pace underscores the stunning setting and sharpens the themes it explores. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s uncomfortable at times – but hey, that’s what transformational travel is all about.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


The Peanut Butter Falcon

One of my favourite travel films of late, The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) is a comedy-drama set in North Carolina. It’s a classic adventure tale with Mark Twain vibes and nostalgic undertones of Americana.

“Yeah, you’re going to die. It’s a matter of time. That ain’t the question. The question is whether they’re going to have a good story to tell about you when you’re gone.”

tyler, the peanut butter falcon

In the film, Zak (Zack Gottsagen) and Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) each set out on independent courses not so far from home before they cross paths and strike up an unlikely friendship. Travelling across the state by foot, the two travel buddies come to realise how much they have in common – including the fact that they’re both running away from something. Their journeys were bound to become intertwined.

In the end, both characters have some resolution – although it’s not what you might expect at the outset. This indie film is a bit of a tearjerker and absolutely heartwarming. It will leave you in awe of travel’s uncanny ability to bring people together through adversity, and is a good reminder to always venture out with an open heart and mind.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


180 Degrees South

180 Degrees South (2010) is one of only two documentary films like Into the Wild that appear on this list. If you don’t know the names Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, you’ll surely recognise the name of the brand they founded – Patagonia. A classic in the canon of adventure films, 180 Degrees South retraces a formative expedition the duo took in 1968 from California to Chile overland.

“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex.”

yvon chouinard, 180 degrees south

The movie intersperses Chouinard and Tompkins’ home video with new footage filmed when adventurer Jeff Johnson emulated the journey. As he follows in his heroes’ footsteps, Jeff explores the rugged landscape that inspired the duo to found their ethical outerwear brand and invest their savings in protecting the environment for future generations. Interviews with Chouinard and Tompkins also appear in the film.

This travel movie captures the pure spirit of adventure while recalling the fascinating history behind one of the world’s most recognisable brand names.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Inside Llewyn Davis

Written and directed by the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is a black comedy that toes the line between biopic and drama epic. Partially set in Greenwich Village and with energetic nods to Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan, it’s a gritty film that channels some of Into the Wild‘s darker undertones.

“In my experience, the world’s divided into two kinds of people. Those who divide the world into two kinds of people…”

llewlyn, inside llewyn davis

The movie is partially based on folk singer Dave Van Ronk’s autobiography. Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling musician with many mountains to climb in his personal life. The film peaks with his cross-country journey to Chicago by car, a fraught journey that brings yet more dilemmas his way.

Grungy New York City circa-1961 is the perfect setting for this earthy, stirring film.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Lion

I distinctly remember the first time I saw the preview for Lion (2016) at my local cinema. I bawled! In anticipation of the release, I rushed out and bought a copy of the autobiographical novel it’s based on. Although I preferred the book to the film, Lion is still one of my favourite movies of any genre.

“Every night I imagine that I’m walking those streets home and I know every single step of the way, and I whisper in her ear, ‘I’m here’.”

saroo, lion

The story is breathtaking – it’s difficult to believe it’s all true. It begins with a young Saroo Brierley (played by Dev Patel), born and raised in a small town in India, who through some very sad circumstances becomes separated from his family after falling asleep on an intercity train. Saroo tries, but he can’t get back home. In the end, he finds his way into an orphanage and is adopted by an Australian couple.

As an adult, Saroo revisits India to embark on the most important journey of all: The quest to find his hometown and reconnect with the family he lost all those years ago. How he goes about it beggars belief… You’ll just have to watch the film to find out what happens!

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Swiss Army Man

I have to admit, it took me a couple of tries before I could get through the first 15 minutes of Swiss Army Man (2016). This film is pretty offbeat (especially in the beginning) and won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s worth persevering.

“I just had a thought about a thought. How do you hide your thoughts, and why do we have to hide everything?”

hank, swiss army man

The story follows a classic plot: Man gets stranded on deserted island (in this case, it’s Hank – Paul Dano) and is ready to throw in the towel when all of the sudden, he discovers he’s not alone. Only it’s not another person, but rather a human corpse with superpowers (in this case Manny – Daniel Radcliffe).

Hank and Manny form a strange and macabre friendship as they navigate together through various trials. Peculiar and unlike any other movie I’ve seen, this one should definitely be on your watch list if you enjoy eccentric indie films.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Leave No Trace

If complete isolation in the wilderness strikes a chord with you, Leave No Trace (2018) will remind you of Into the Wild and the main character’s quest to go beyond the ‘regular’ world in search of a more idyllic existence.

“They don’t think I was where I was supposed to be… They just don’t understand that it was my home.”

tom, leave no trace

This movie focuses on Will (Benjamin Foster) and his daughter, Tom (Thomasin McKenzie), who extricate themselves from their community to live alone in a forest in Oregon. After the duo is spotted one day by a passerby, their reality crumbles around them as they’re forced to return to civilian life.

Father and daughter grapple to hold onto their old lifestyle while realising their beliefs and needs are diverging. If you think it’s too far-fetched to be real, this movie, like Into the Wild, is also based on a true story.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Love the 2007 biopic 'Into the Wild'? These 15 travel movies like Into the Wild explore similar themes and are bound to inspire your wanderlust.

Free Solo

The second documentary on this list of movies similar to Into the Wild is Free Solo (2018). Over the course of several months, filmmakers follow Alex Honnold as her pursues his dream of scaling El Capitan, the iconic 3,200-foot vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about fear. For me the crucial question is not how to climb without fear-that’s impossible – but how to deal with it when it creeps into your nerve endings.”

alex, free solo

Alex is a free climber, thus he needs to complete the climb without a safety rope – something that’s never been done before. To reach his personal summit and push himself to the absolute limit, he must overcome other barriers in his personal life first. As the camera rolls, his blind ambition – and at times, foolhardiness – is captivating to watch. This doco is painful at times, but you can’t look away.

Alex’s off-the-grid lifestyle, comfort with complete isolation, his stoicism and single-mindedness as he works towards the goal he is so fixated on reminds me a lot of Christopher in Into the Wild. Does he achieve his goal? You’ll just have to watch to find out!

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Tracks

As far as adventure travel movies go, Tracks (2013) is hard to beat. One of my top choices for movies like Into the Wild, this biopic recites the 9-month overland journey taken by young Brisbane woman, Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska), as she attempts to conquer one of the planet’s harshest landscapes: The Australian Outback.

“The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.”

robyn, tracks

Joined by National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan (played by Adam Driver) and several animal companions (including a troupe of camels and a loyal pup), Robyn ends up walking 2,700km from Alice Springs to Australia’s west coast. The actual journey took place in 1977; after several failed attempts to turn Robyn’s story into a movie, Tracks was finally put into production and filmed in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The themes of this movie will remind you of Into the Wild: Solitude, being an outsider in a foreign land, and the unexpected acts of kindness one often encounters on the road.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) is a travel film with cult status – and for good reason. Adapted from a pithy short story, the film follows one man on his spirited quest across the planet in search of a photographer and a missing film negative.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

walter, the secret life of walter mitty

Walter (Ben Stiller) works a corporate job at Life magazine and daydreams of travel and adventure in his spare time. When he’s accidentally thrust into a real-life treasure hunt, he’s forced to confront his biggest fears, learning many poignant lessons about travel and life in the process.

This movie, like Into the Wild, proves that the greatest journeys of one’s lifetime often come from looking inward, not outward. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a heartwarming and uplifting film – I promise you’ll want to re-watch it at least once!

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


The Way

While some of the adventure travel movies that feature on this list have an abstract backdrop, the location plays a leading role in The Way (2011). If you haven’t guessed from the title, this film pays homage to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage (AKA The Way) that stretches across Spain and France.

“Most people don’t have the luxury of just leaving it all behind.”

tom, the way

The story begins under tragic circumstances when the lead character, Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen), is forced to travel to France to recover the body of his son (played by his real-life son, Emilio Estevez – also the film’s director) who died while walking in the Pyrenees. As a salve for his grief, Thomas decides to complete the trail and honour his son’s final wish by carrying his ashes with him.

Thomas falls in with a group of other pilgrims, all with their own personal reasons for attempting the Camino. Some are searching for something; others are trying to escape. Interestingly, aside from the main actors, everyone who appears in The Way is a real-life traveller who just happened to be on the trail at the time of filming.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


The Life of Pi

With four Academy Awards to its name, The Life of Pi (2012) is considered a classic in its genre. This fantastical story follows Pi Patel (played in the film by Suraj Sharma), a young boy stranded at sea.

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

the life of pi

After a shipwreck claims his entire family and leaves Pi stranded in the Indian Ocean with only a menagerie of wild animals for company, he must struggle to overcome the various challenges nature throws at him.

This movie is philosophical, introspective and beautifully poetic, with ‘believeability’ emerging as one of the key themes. When Pi is finally rescued, his saviors don’t buy a word of his story – but he doesn’t mind at all. The Yann Martel novel that the film is based on won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and is definitely worth reading.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


The Way Back

Not to be confused with the 2020 Ben Affleck basketball flick, The Way Back (2010) is a survival film created by legendary Australian director Peter Weir. Another stranger-than-fiction story, it’s based on the memoirs of Sławomir Rawicz, a Polish lieutenant who was held as a prisoner of war during WWII.

“Survival was a kind of protest. Being alive was my punishment.”

mr smith, the way back

The film begins when Janusz (Jim Sturgess) is sent to a Gulag deep in Siberia. When he arrives, he meets several other prisoners who are planning a great escape. After making a break for it, they trek for months across Siberia before finally reaching their destination, the Mongolian border. Their salvation from communism is short-lived, however, and the group must continue on foot to the Himalayas, eventually finding refuge in Tibet.

Questions remain as to the accuracy of the story – is it truth or fiction? – but the heroism and camaraderie of the characters as they persevere on their walk to freedom is epic.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Seven Years in Tibet

Seven Years in Tibet (1997) is the oldest adventure movie on this list, yet it’s another absolute classic. As much a historical document as a travel film, it chronicles the traumatic political, social and cultural events that took place in China during the 1940s and 50s.

“The absolute simplicity. That’s what I love. When you’re climbing, your mind is clear and free from all confusions. You have focus. And suddenly the light becomes sharper, the sounds are richer, and you’re filled with the deep, powerful presence of life.”

heinrich, seven years in tibet

When Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (played by Brad Pitt) set out on a climbing expedition, he had no idea he would bare witness to one of the most significant chapters in China’s modern history.

Like The Way Back, the movie begins as a tale of escape when Heinrich and his companion give the guards of the POW camp where they’re being detained the slip. After an epic journey by foot across the Himalayas, the pair end up in Lhasa where Heinrich forms a bond with a young 14th Dalai Lama (Tibet’s current spiritual leader). As Heinrich witnesses the Chinese invasion, themes of responsibility, loyalty and freedom bubble to the surface.

The movie was filmed in Argentina, Nepal, Austria and Canada – but it features about 20 minutes of ‘secret footage’ shot in Tibet. It was enough to get Brad Pitt, his co-star David Thewlis and the film’s director banned from ever visiting China.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Cast Away

We can’t talk about adventure travel movies without mentioning Cast Away (2000) – the original tale of physical and mental transformation through overcoming adversity.

“Now I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

chuck, cast away

Like the protagonist in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Chuck (Tom Hanks) leads a normal life in corporate America. That’s until a plane crash leaves him stranded on a deserted island, thrusting Chuck into the unknown and pushing him to the brink. He befriends a volleyball, and… Well, you probably know how the rest of the story goes!

Even if you saw it when it first came out, Cast Away is worth a re-watch, if only for the nostalgia factor.

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


127 Hours

If you’re looking for an adventure film that speaks to mental fortitude and human endurance, look no further than 127 Hours (2010). The plot of this true story is the stuff of legend.

“I’ve been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I’ve taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface.”

aron, 127 hours

Described as ‘painfully accurate’, 127 Hours is a film adaptation of Between a Rock and a Hard Place, a memoir by mountaineer Aron Ralston (played in the movie by James Franco). When Aron’s hiking adventure turns bad and his arm becomes wedged between a boulder and a cliff wall, he grapples with an impossible decision and starts rethinking his life decisions – all the while narrating his inner thoughts in a soliloquy captured on video.

This film is an enriching story of triumph over adversity and a good reminder that even the most pressing trials can shape us into better people. If this movie like Into the Wild doesn’t ignite your passion for the great unknown, I don’t know what will!

How to watch it: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime.


Movies like Into the Wild – quick reference


Which of these adventure travel movies like Into the Wild is your favourite? Are there any other films you’d like to add to the list?

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