When we can’t head out on our own adventures, sometimes we have to settle for the next best thing: living vicariously through myriad programs designed to tap into our inherent wanderlust and desire to experience something outside of our own backyard.
Fortunately, the television programmers know what we want and have created plenty of opportunities for us to see the world, from the big cities to the jungle villages, and everything in between. Whether you’d rather see Samantha Brown check into some of the world’s most beautiful hotels, watch Rick Steves explore Europe, or enjoy Anthony Bourdain’s acerbic wit as he eats his way around the globe, there’s a show for just about every taste.
There are plenty of shows on television (hello, Travel Channel) that give you insight into life and travels, but these are some of our favorites. You can even see the filming sites up close on TV and film site tours around the world.
What’s your favorite travel related show?
This reality show is packed with adventure and challenges. At the start, 11 teams embark on a 25-day race around the world. Each spot lends itself to a new challenge before they can move to their next destination. Along the way, teams are eliminated as they fall behind. The first team to arrive at the final destination wins $1 million. While the focus of the show is the teams and their challenges, it also opens viewers’ eyes to parts of the world they’ve never seen, and the obstacles that travelers face in foreign countries. The show airs on CBS.
An Idiot Abroad
Poor Karl Pilkington. His travels lie in the hands of his former radio show host colleagues, funny man Rickey Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Swearing he has no desire to see the world, Gervais and Merchant make him do just that — send him around the world with an enormous bucket list of both tourist and crazy things to check off while they hang out in London and check out what he does from afar.
Travels go from the typical bucket list items like climbing Mount Fuji to the downright crazy. The normal? Pilkington heads to Machu Picchu to cross this world wonder off the list. The insane? He’s dropped into the Amazon jungle and told he has to survive.
On this show, it’s all about pulling the unexpected on Pilkington, whose reactions to his experiences are the focus of the show. While Gervais and Merchant often promise easy travels and comfortable living, they often sneak behind his back and throw in curve balls to spice things up. While the two seasons of the show have wrapped, you can catch repeats nearly all of the time on the Science Channel. Plus, fans of the show can also check out Pilkington’s book, “The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington,” which sheds more light on his personal experiences while shooting the show.
Airing on Halogen in the US, Departures follows friends Justin Lukach and Scott Wilson as they abandon their stationary lives for new experiences around the world. Together, the two, along with cameraman Andre Dupuis, expose viewers to remote locales, new cultures and their own personal journeys only the ups and downs of travel can provide. While there are no new episodes being produced, you can check it out on DVD and online.
House Hunters International
The original show, House Hunters on HGTV, journeys abroad in its latest incarnation, taking want-to-be international home owners on tours through some of the most magnificent cities in the world with one quest: to find a home to buy. While this show focuses more on the buildings, it is a great way to see how locals live, along with getting a feel for architecture and lifestyle in each city. Not only is this show a great way to see other cultures, but it is also educates those who have dreamed of owning property in another country to each locale’s own rules for buying real estate.
Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe
Internationally-acclaimed photographer Art Wolfe lets viewers journey the world with him, giving them a view of some of the most beautiful places and nature as seen behind his lens. Airing on PBS, he introduces the audience to some of the most remarkable places, culture and nature the world offers, all the while educating people on the art of taking photos. Great for travel photographers and those who simply want to see the beauty in the world, Art Wolfe lends his own expertise to the program, creating a unique way to view the world.
Since 1994, Globe Trekker (originally broadcasted as Lonely Planet and called Pilot Guides in some areas) the Globe Trekker series sends one traveler to a different location each episode. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, in big cities and more remote locales, the hosts have covered the world, checking out traditional festivals, exploring the culture, eating, drinking, hiking, and interacting with local people. One of our favorite hosts was Brit Ian Wright, known for his unbridled enthusiasm for just about any adventure, even the ones that didn’t go as planned.
- Diana Edelman
Editor’s Note: Viator has it’s own travel videos to watch! We recently held a contest to “Win Your Dream Travel Job” where we selected 4 finalists to travel the world shooting video. These teams traveled and filmed in some of the world’s top destinations, documenting their experiences along the way. Go here to watch their unforgettable journey!