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Travel Tips

50 of the Best Travel-ish Shows to Watch When You Can't Travel

Scott Keyes
By 
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert
5 min read
Last updated 
March 30, 2020

We are living in unprecedented times. Most of us are practicing social distancing and self-isolating, which means we’re spending a lot of time in our homes and any travel plans are put on hold indefinitely. There are only so many things a person can do at home, so when you inevitably settle down onto the couch, check out one of these shows to transport you to a different place.

Here are 50 of our favorite travel tv shows. 

Traditional Travel Shows

Anthony Bourdain in the The Layover

1. Rick Steves’ Europe

Rick Steves might be a bit bookish but that’s one of the things we love about him. The man knows Europe—and the continent’s history—like the back of his hand, and his love for the region is clear. Whether you already love the countries and cities he visits, too, or are dreaming of the day you finally make it there, don’t be surprised if you find yourself geeking out right along with him.
Available on:
Amazon, Hulu, YouTube

2. Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown

Sam Brown travels with a sense of curiosity and excitement that you can’t help but get caught up in. “Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown” is packed with history, popular landmarks, local restaurants, and shopping spots—literally everything you need to know about both major cities and smaller spots in Europe.
Available on: Amazon 

3. The Layover

This one is made for travelers who love to maximize every. single. second. when they travel, including the time in between flights (looking at you, Type As). In “The Layover,” the late Anthony Bourdain uses every travel trick in the book to do—and eat—as much as he can within 24-48 hours. 
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube, Sling, Amazon

4. The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Most of us have hiked, backpacked, or at the very least, driven through one of the United States’ national parks. From lesser-visited spots like the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska to (maybe a little too) popular ones like Yellowstone, this documentary pays homage to these beautiful places, sharing the history of the national park system from the 1800s to the present time through breathtaking video footage, interviews, and untold stories. 
Available on:
Amazon, YouTube

5. Globe Trekker

Featuring a rotating cast of hosts, “Globe Trekker” is a real-life version of the Lonely Planet guidebooks. The first few seasons were filmed in the 90s so don’t expect high-def, but over two decades they cover just about everywhere that you could think of, from London to Northern India to the Australian Outback.
Available on:
Amazon 

Experiential Travel Shows

dark tourist

6. Dark Tourist

If you are fascinated by all things unusual—and maybe even morbid—you’ll definitely get some ideas from this Netflix series. In “Dark Tourist,” journalist David Farrier explores destinations with a grim history, like witnessing an exorcism in Mexico, hiking through a haunted forest in Japan, or swimming in a lake formed by a nuclear blast in Kazakhstan. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you if you have trouble sleeping after!
Available on:
Netflix

7. Conan Without Borders

Team Coco, this one is for you. See a side of Conan you never knew you needed as your favorite late-night talk show host takes his antics on the road to experience pop culture in other countries firsthand. Always wanted to see Conan star in a telenovela? Check. Wonder if he could hack it as a K-pop star? Done. Curious to see what his, um, dance skills look like? Season 1, Episode 1. 
Available on:
Netflix

8. Tales by Light

There’s something about an amazing photo that makes the rest of us wonder how it even happened. While there’s a little bit of “right place, right time” to many great shots, the best photographers know exactly what to look for when it comes to lighting, angles, and capturing emotions and feelings. Not just a behind-the-scenes look at how the pictures are taken, “Tales by Light” also show us how powerful images can be when it comes to conservation.
Available on: Netflix

9. Expedition Unknown

With a background in archaeology and a “passion for the unexplained,” Josh Gates investigates unsolved mysteries, lost cities, and buried treasure all around the world. He’s got a little bit of an Indiana Jones vibe going on, and actually does get himself in some hairy situations while tackling challenges like searching for Amelia Earhart’s remains in Fiji—but without the Nazis breathing down his neck or giant boulders barreling his way.
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling

10. The Moaning of Life

After “An Idiot Abroad” concluded and comedian Karl Pilkington turned 40, he had some big life questions, as one does. “The Moaning of Life” documents Pilkington’s mid-life crisis as he travels around the world to see how other cultures tackle big topics like marriage, having children (they’re not for him), the secret to happiness, and even death.
Available on: Amazon 

11. Planet Earth

The BBC put some serious funding into the production of “Planet Earth” and it has paid off. The series has been awarded four Emmys and a Peabody Award from the Royal Television Society for its breathtaking episodes featuring a different biome or habitat each time. From the Arctic and Antarctica to the depths of the oceans, if this doesn’t inspire you to see more of our planet, nothing will.
Available on: YouTube, Amazon

Road Trips 

Top Gea

12. Long Way Round

Watch actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman hop on their BMW R1150GS Adventure motorcycles (hey, some people are interested in those kinds of details) and cruise from London to New York. They take an eastern route through Europe, Asia, and Alaska, then down to the contiguous US, usually off-road. The two have an obvious shared passion for riding, which is a definite requirement if you plan to sit on a bike seat for 19,000 miles!
Available on:
Amazon

13. Long Way Down

A sequel to their 2004 adventure, Long Way Down follows Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman again as they ride their trusty motorcycles from Scotland through Europe and down Africa to Cape Town, South Africa. This time the duo covers an impressive 15,000 miles—though as the episodes show, it’s not always easy.
Available on: Tubi

14. Epic Drives

Come for the cars, stay for the conversations. Created in partnership with Motor Trend magazine, this show highlights fast cars, unique trucks (Ford Falcon XR6 Ute anyone?), and stories from locals in epic locations.
Available on:
YouTube

15. Top Gear

There’s a reason that there are nine (!) movies in the Fast & Furious franchise—people love watching drivers push their cars to the limit. "Top Gear" is part review, part road trip, and all adrenaline, and the celebrity guest drivers and absurd challenges add to the fun. Now that we think about it, maybe Rocket League® was inspired by the Top Gear Car Sports segment…?
Available on:
YouTube TV, Amazon 

16. The Grand Tour

Filled with bits of uniquely quirky (and questionable) advice like “looking good is more important than looking where you’re going,” "The Grand Tour" finds Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May (of “Top Gear” fame) driving unique automobiles in interesting places. The friends drive everything from an Aston Martin in South Africa to the Fiat Panda 4x4 in Colombia to beach buggies in Namibia. They talk, they eat, they race.
Available on:
Amazon 

Food & Drink

Ugly Delicious

17. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

“No Reservations” combines two of the best things about traveling: food and adventure. Throw in Anthony Bourdain and you’ve got a truly entertaining TV show. The chef gets down and dirty in each location, giving us a look at not just the food, but the people and a fun way to experience the culture.
Available on: Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling, Amazon 

18. Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown

Bourdain once said, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” “Parts Unknown” brings the table to you, as the chef learns about the history of often-complicated places (Detroit, Iran, Senegal) by sharing a traditional food or drink with the people who live there.
Available on: Hulu, YouTube TV, Amazon 

19. Gordon Ramsay's Uncharted

Chef Gordon Ramsay is probably best known for his strong personality on his reality TV shows, like “Hell’s Kitchen,” but in “Uncharted,” we see a more humble side of the Brit. He frequently finds himself thrown out of his comfort zone while learning about the cuisine or traditional cooking methods from a local and is then thrown into the fire by attempting to make a dish for the community himself.
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling, Disney+

20. Gordon's Great Escape

Imagine Gordon Ramsay in a white tank top, admitting that he has no idea what he’s doing and traveling around India (often on motorbike) to become versed on what “real” curry is like compared to the dish he loves in the UK. The show embodies the sights and sounds of India and Ramsay even experiences “travel sickness,” just like the rest of us. The last four episodes take place in Southeast Asia and Ramsay continues his role as the student, which isn’t a position we’re used to seeing him in.
Available on: Amazon, Disney+

21. Ugly Delicious

Each episode revolves around a type of food and then James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang travels to different countries to explore how those places interpret it or make it. With close-up shots of the food as it’s being made, cooked, and consumed, you can almost smell the warm pizza crust and feel the heat of the hot chicken in your mouth.
Available on: Netflix

22. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

If you like “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” you’ll love "Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner." David Chang travels the world to meet up with funny, food-loving celebrities like Seth Rogen and Chrissy Teigen as they embark on culinary adventures in various cities around the world.
Available on: Netflix

23. Street Food

Street food is almost like a culture within a culture. Wherever you go, travelers can count on carts to have the most authentic food—and people—you’ll ever find. Capturing the vibrant colors and essence of each dish, this show manages to make even the most humble of street food look so beautiful; it's like a love letter to the food and the people who make it.
Available on:
Netflix

24. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

Even if you consider yourself an adventurous eater, this one might make you a little squeamish. But hey, you’ve gotta give Zimmern credit for being up for anything, like lamb brains and duck tongue.
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling, Amazon 

25. Three Sheets

Comedian Zane Lamprey is living the dream—traveling the world to meet new people and drink alcohol with them. It’s essentially an international pub crawl, including the day-after hangover cures.
Available on: Amazon 

26. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having

Phil Rosenthal is hilarious (he did create “Everybody Loves Raymond”) but in a very wholesome way. He had an admittedly bland diet as a child, so Rosenthal wants to experience as much as he can as an adult—even if that means stepping into the unknown. His friendly demeanor and childlike innocence make you feel like you are just tagging along with an uncle and experiencing a place for the first time.
Available on: YouTube, Amazon 

27. Somebody Feed Phil

In “Somebody Feed Phil,” Rosenthal actually brings his friends and family along as he visits cities ranging from Tel Aviv to New Orleans. Phil’s excitement is contagious as he tastes the best pizza, egg cream—and even hot dog—of his life.
Available on:
Netflix

28. BuzzFeed's Worth It

BuzzFeed knows how to tap into popular culture, and “Worth It” offers a unique spin on your typical food review. Instead of just eating a meal somewhere and talking about it, hosts Steven Lim and Andrew Ilnyckyj eat three different dishes at three different price points (affordable, mid, luxury) and then decide if it’s worth it to spend more money. The guys bring an everyman attitude to the whole show, so they rarely pick the most expensive option.
Available on:
Hulu, BuzzFeed’s website

29. Booze Traveler

Host Jack Maxwell is the real deal. At a young age, he made money by shining shoes in local pubs and gin mills (seriously) and then became a bartender in South Boston. He found that you can learn a lot about a person when you take the time to sit down for a couple of drinks, so naturally, he hit the road to learn about what people are drinking and why they drink it.
Available on: Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling

30. Chef's Table

Many cooking shows give you a look into the chef’s personality, but sometimes you want to go a little deeper, learn a little bit more. Enter Emmy-nominated series “Chef’s Table.” Each season dives into the lives and personal stories of six chefs, discussing their discipline and culinary talent while they prepare a dish. It’s the best of both worlds and a must watch for serious foodies.
Available on:
Netflix

Reality TV

Extreme Engagement

31. Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father

If you’ve ever traveled with a parent, you will be hard-pressed to find a more relatable show. Comedian Jack Whitehall and his father, Michael, hit the road together to “strengthen their bond.” Dad is definitely out of his element in this one, as Jack wants to be in the thick of everything, while Michael would definitely prefer a bit more familiarity.
Available on:
Netflix

32. The Amazing Race

Featuring 11 teams of two that race around the world to make it to the final leg and take home the $1 million prize, contestants on “The Amazing Race” face everything from grueling heat to freezing temperatures, while having to complete physical and mental challenges on a limited budget. There are many reasons why this show is so popular, but perhaps the biggest is the relationships between the partners. Just traveling with another person on vacation can be stressful enough, but the competition adds another layer of complexity to the relationship as they try to navigate through completely foreign cities and countries.
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube, Sling, Amazon 

33. Survivorman

Canadian survival expert Les Stroud strands himself in the remote wilderness for 7-10 days with only his clothes, a one-man camera rig, his harmonica, a multi-tool, and often, items relevant to his survival situation or location. While it may not make you want to go off on your own in the middle of nowhere for days on end, it might motivate you to spend a little more time in nature in a place you hadn’t thought of before.
Available on:
Hulu, Amazon, YouTube

34. An Idiot Abroad

Poor Karl Pilkington is constantly pranked by British comics Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in “An Idiot Abroad.” To be fair, it’s probably not possible for Pilkington to be that clueless, but he plays the part well and with quite a bit of humor as he’s repeatedly surprised and confused about the cultural customs of people around the world.
Available on:
YouTube, Amazon

35. Restaurants on the Edge

Love a good makeover show? Check out “Restaurants on the Edge,” a show in which three food and design experts revive restaurants that are on the edge of failing by re-connecting them with the local culture and food. The newly improved eateries offer a redesigned decor and unique menu, but the views throughout the show—filmed at restaurants in places like Malta, St. Lucia, and Hong Kong—give you a real idea of what the locale looks like.
Available on: Netflix

36. Extreme Engagement

It’s your typical love story: man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get engaged, and then spend two years apart while man is filming another TV show. Okay, so that last part is not so typical, but when PJ Madam and Tim Noonan came back together, they decided to spend every waking second together and travel the world for an entire year to see if their relationship could cut it. Unlike most travel shows that visit the hotspots, the couple travels to remote villages and experiences life with tribespeople in their quest to “discover the secret to a perfect marriage,” giving viewers a real sense of place and a deep look at places many tourists never see.
Available on:
Netflix

37. House Hunters International

If you’ve ever dreamt of living abroad, “House Hunters International” is the best way to get a glimpse of life in another country—and where you could potentially live there. The buyers’ often-unrealistic expectations or lavish budgets have become the source for many a meme and with 115 seasons, you’ve got some catching up to do.
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling

38. Basic Versus Baller: Travel at Any Cost

“Vagabrothers” Marko and Alex Ayling vlog their 24-hour adventures in popular cities across the globe. Each episode starts with a little brotherly competition with a trivia question about the city to determine who will experience the destination on a shoestring budget and who will get to ball out. Whether you’re a penny-pinching backpacker or an all-out baller when you travel, you’ll get to see both sides of the coin.
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube TV

Scripted Shows Set Abroad

Midnight Diner

39. Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories

The show takes place in a fictional small Japanese bar called Meshiya in Tokyo that is open from midnight to 7 a.m. While the menu technically only offers four things—sake, beer, shōchū, and tonjiru, a pork soupthe chef (known only as the Master) will create any dish that a customer may want using the ingredients that he has on-hand that night. The camera follows that night’s patrons out of the bar and into their lives to continue their stories, but still manages to capture the true feeling of the show—that food is about coming together but life is boring without a little joy every now and then.
Available on:
Netflix

40. Srugim

Based on the lives of five single men and women in their 30s in Jerusalem, “Srugim” checks all the boxes for a binge-worthy show: controversial issues (in the Religious Zionist society), marriage problems, a character struggling with their sexuality, and a bonus for travel junkies—true cultural immersion.
Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube

41. Lost

Regularly ranked as one of the most popular TV shows of all-time in the US, “Lost” is about the survivors of a commercial jet airliner that crashed on a mysterious island in the South Pacific Ocean en route from Sydney to Los Angeles. The show was filmed at Mokulē'ia Beach, near the northwest tip of Oahu, making it easy to imagine spending a week on your very own deserted island.
Available on: Hulu, YouTube, Amazon 

42. Outlander

With elements of romance, history, and science fiction, “Outlander” is filled with sweeping landscapes, historic castles, and elegant gardens. Filmed mostly in the Scottish Highlands, but also in Prague (to capture the spirit of 18th-century France in Season 2) and Cape Town, South Africa, you can visit many of the sites where Clare Randall lived her double lives.
Available on:
Netflix, Hulu, Sling, YouTube TV 

43. Downton Abbey

This series is set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926 and depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. If the show inspires a trip to the British countryside, be sure to add Highclere Castle to your list—it’s where the TV show was filmed.
Available on: Amazon, YouTube

44. Grantchester

Taking place in a picturesque 1950s Cambridgeshire village named Grantchester, this detective drama will have you dreaming of spending your next vacation in a sleepy British town. You can actually visit the actual town of some 540 people and take a walk through the Grantchester Meadows, stop in the pub, and sit down for afternoon tea, just like Sidney Chambers and Geordie Keating.
Available on: Amazon, YouTube 

45. Trapped

Though it’s been gaining in popularity as a tourist destination in the past few years, Iceland is still a country that feels quite wild and remote. “Trapped” captures that feeling in this crime drama taking place in as isolated Icelandic town, where the chief of police tries to solve the murder of a former townsperson after his mutilated corpse is found by fishermen.
Available on:
Amazon 

46. The Kettering Incident

The Australian drama is based on the mysterious disappearance of two young girls, but the dark and enchanting landscapes are a central part of the show. This one might not have a happy premise, but the filming locations in and around the town of Kettering and Bruny Island in Tasmania are sure to kick your wanderlust into overdrive.
Available on: Amazon, YouTube 

47. Top of the Lake

Set in a remote mountain town in New Zealand, "Top of the Lake" is a harrowing series about an inexperienced detective trying to figure out what happened to 12-year-old Tui, who disappeared while five months pregnant. The country’s South Island is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world and the show gives you enough of a taste that you’ll want to book a trip to Glenorchy and experience its untouched beauty for yourself. 
Available on:
Hulu, YouTube, Amazon

48. Sense8

When a group of eight strangers from around the world realize they are connected telepathically, they have to find a way to keep each other safe from those who find their powers threatening. The second season includes an astonishing 15 cities and 13 countries. From action shots in Seoul to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the creators of "The Matrix" and "Babylon 5” outdid themselves with this one.
Available on: Netflix

49. Hawaii 5-0

Take a trip to Hawaii with this TV show featuring an elite state police task force set up to fight major crimes in the state. Originally airing from 1968 to 1980, there’s also a remake that premiered in 2010 and will end in 2020. Whether you watch the old school or modern version, the swaying palm trees and ocean views will bring back memories of a tropical vacation.
Available on: CBS, YouTube TV

50. Marco Polo

Yes, this TV show is about that Marco Polo. Inspired by the creator’s own legendary trip through Central Asia, “Marco Polo” gives viewers an insight into the life of one of the world’s first explorers. We challenge you to somehow not imagine yourself riding a horse through the grassland of the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe after watching a few episodes of this one.
Available on: Netflix, Amazon

Last Updated 
March 30, 2020
50 of the Best Travel-ish Shows to Watch When You Can't Travel
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.

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