Here are five movies that will inspire you to pack your bags and hit the road asap. In researching this list, it became apparent to me that there are woefully few films that focus on women’s travel experiences – most seem to fall under the “American goes to Europe and has romantic liaison” category. (Fine, but please, Hollywood, can you mix up the trope a little?). All that said, these five films have some amazing solo female travel scenes, and are sure to add some fire to your belly and spark to your wanderlust.
Wild (2014) Based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed (played in the film by Reese Witherspoon, who also produced it), who hiked the PCT after her mother’s death. This movie has it all – the dilemmas solo female travellers face on a daily basis, the gutsy motivation it takes to start and finish something, and the array of messy encounters that characterises most trips taken on your own. You can’t help coming away having sheer admiration for Strayed.
2. Eat, Pray, Love (2010) This has become the modern woman’s Thelma & Louise – perhaps more so because it’s about one woman travelling alone, rather than with her best friend. Based on the bestselling book by Elizabeth Gilbert (played here by Julia Roberts), the story starts with the writer leaving her marriage, then taking a soul-searching trip through three different countries (Italy, India and Bali), where she experiences life lessons and soul food, and ultimately meets her husband-to-be.
3. Thelma & Louise (1991) The ultimate female road-trip movie, Thelma & Louise is a heart-wrenching tale of two girls driving through the American desert, getting into a mounting spider’s web of nail-biting antics. OK, this isn’t specifically about solo female travel, but it’s still a refreshing take on the classic male road trip, and continues to hold bags of appeal today. Plus, the ending still haunts me.
4. Gorillas in the Mist (1988) Another true story, this one based on the autobiography of Dian Fossey (played by Sigourney Weaver), who leaves her home in America to travel to rural Rwanda and Uganda to study, and save, the endangered mountain gorillas. Tissues at the ready.
5. Before Sunrise (1995) This is where a girl (Julie Delpy) meets a guy (Ethan Hawke) on a train, and both decide to get off in Vienna to spend the evening wandering the city together. I like it because Julie Delpy’s character is fun and spontaneous, but also doesn’t take any sh*t.
A nominal vote must also go to A Private War, starring Rosamund Pike as Sunday Times war reporter, Marie Colvin. Though not a travel film per se, it’s still a story with a strong female protagonist, who is out in the world kicking some serious ass.