Let me start by admitting that I’m not generally a huge television fan. I am a pretty big fan of travel though. So when I do want to veg out and let my brain wander, I love choosing a show that lets me travel from my couch. I especially like series that try to take a less “go-here-see-this” approach, and can add something a little different to their format. Something like buying a house, for example… or going head to head with competitors in a challenge. So, of all the travel shows I have seen, I’ve listed my favorites below to encourage you to check them out.
The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race, and the Amazing Race Canada, are reality competition shows. Multiple teams of two race throughout different provinces, states, countries, and continents, completing physical and mental challenges, in an effort to avoid possible elimination at the end of each leg.
Not only do you get to see various locations during the race, but you get an idea of the locals’ way of life, forms of transportation, cuisine, and traditions. You can learn a thing or two about a new place, all while enjoying the drama and competition of a reality TV show.
It’s definitely a dream of mine to compete on this show, and I’m sure once you watch it, you’ll feel the same way! You can watch The Amazing Race on CBS (or CTV for the Canadian version), or on various online streaming websites.
House Hunters International
I have always been a fan of interior design (my former profession), real estate, and house shopping. So when House Hunters launched it’s “International” series in 2006, I was thrilled. This inspirational series follows individuals, couples, and families, as they make an international move for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s for work, sometimes it’s for a different way of life, and sometimes it’s just for the fun of it!
It’s exciting to experience such a life-changing move vicariously through these people. And it’s always interesting to see the types of housing and the cost of living for different parts of the world.
House Hunters International airs on cable on HGTV, and can also be streamed online.
Globe Trekker (called Pilot Guides in Australia and Thailand) is an award-winning TV show that takes viewers to far off destinations with youthful hosts and stunning cinematography. These guys make an effort to live as the locals do, and explore less “touristy” destinations, giving you a more realistic impression of each location.
You can find the series on cable on PBS and Travel Channel, and episodes can be watched on their website as well.
If you haven’t heard of Anthony Bourdain, you truly must be living under some sort of rock. This man is an accomplished American chef turned travel guru and TV personality. From 2005 to 2012 he hosted Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, 2011 to 2013 saw him on The Layover, and he is now the host of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
Traveling to varied and diverse locations around the world, Bourdain partakes in the true gritty side of a culture – including not only food, but alcohol, drugs, and other vices known to the area. It’s fascinating to watch, and hard not to envy his “go hard or go home” approach to travel.
Parts Unknown is currently airing on cable on CNN, and is, along with past Bourdain productions, available online for your viewing pleasure.
This is an online travel series, founded by a young man named Jordan in 2010 as a response to the Haiti earthquake. The show’s creator wanted to travel and support a good cause, and so the idea of Explore22 was born. The show explores and showcases unique countries in an educational and entertaining format, while also enabling viewers to donate directly to the communities featured in each episode.
Watching and listening to Jordan, it’s pretty clear that he is (was) less traveled and somewhat naive. However, this can be entertaining, and sometimes relatable.
It’s worth checking out their YouTube channel to see what these guys are all about.
I believe I may have saved the best for last….
Departures chronicles the international travel of two Canadian friends (three when you include their cameraman). In the first season, Scott and Justin leave their current, contented lives to travel the world for a year, starting with a cross-country road trip through their home country. There are highs and lows, and they touch on some very real aspects of traveling internationally and/or long term.
Despite some challenges, this initial year of travel started a fire inside these guys, and resulted in three seasons (so far) of Departures. When you finish watching this series, you’ll fell an intense urge to book a flight – to anywhere – and you’ll also feel like you are a close personal friend of each of these hosts. Incredible guys who thankfully share their incredible experiences with us.
You can watch Departures on cable on OLN or OMNI, or you can stream episodes online.
Of course travel shows are no substitute for actual travel, but series like these can introduce you to some different options, and will likely get you itching with travel bugs. But with all the ways to watch TV these days, I’m sure I’ve left out some great shows. What are some of your favorite travel shows? What would you add to this list?