As a travel enthusiast, I love to explore the world with my kids via film. You don’t need to leave home to be transported to another place when you watch family-friendly movies that focus on traveling or that take place in a dreamy destination. Here are my picks for the five best travel movies for kids that parents will love too.
I have never been to Rio de Janeiro, but every time I watch this movie I want to samba off to Brazil. My family’s favorite part is the introduction scene with a kaleidescope of colorful birds swooping in unison to upbeat music. The story moves from Minnesota to Rio, with Blu the male blue macaw and his owner Linda, where they each find love with counterparts of their own species after much drama caused by a bird-stealing thug and his own mean bird. The movie takes place during Carnival, with plenty of samba dance scenes, feathered costumes and decorated floats.
2. Lilo & Stitch
While this movie’s plot involves an alien (Stitch) being chased by the CIA — the artwork, music and characters all feel authentically Hawaiian to me (a Haole who has been to all but one of the visitable Hawaiian islands). Lilo & Stitch takes place on Kauai and stars Lilo, a rambunctious little girl, who is an excellent hula dancer and surfer that is somewhat of an outcast amongst her peers. She bonds with Stitch, whom she and her 19-year-old sister, Nani adopt from an animal shelter. The sisters’ parents are deceased and the two girls fight like, well, sisters. The theme of this story is all about “ohana.” As Lilo says, “Ohana means family, family means no one gets left behind. Or forgotten.”
As a lover of all things French, Ratatouille is my cup of cafe au lait. In Paris, a rat name Remy longs to become a French chef. He befriends a young restaurant worker, Linguini, and “mentors” his human friend in the ways of preparing fine French cuisine. Although it is a rat who is doing the cooking, by the end of the movie you will be craving French cheese, soup, omelets, and, of course, ratatouille (a Provencal dish made from produce like tomatoes, garlic, onions, egg plant, bell peppers, and spices).
4. The Sound of Music
This musical, created in 1965, still enraptures audiences young and old today. Set in Salzburg, Austria before World War II, the von Trapp family and their nanny, Sister Maria, sing their way into our hearts against the backdrop of gorgeous, sweeping views of the Austrian Alps. It’s a long movie and can be slow-moving at times for young viewers, but my children love to sing along with its famous songs like “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things”. The Sound of Music enthusiasts can even sign up for a Sound of Music Tour in Austria to visit firsthand the beautiful sites featured in this movie. I may need to add this to my bucket list!
The best part of this movie is the first scene, which depicts main character Carl Fredricksen as an 8-year-old boy meeting his future wife, Ellie, a tomboy who teaches Carl about a renowned world explorer and the vast adventures available to those willing to dream. In a matter of minutes, we watch these two sweet children meet, fall in love with each other and with the idea of travel, marry, attempt (unsuccessfully) to start a family, grow old…and then Ellie dies. Enter Wilderness Explorer Russell, a little boy who flies with now elderly Fredricksen to South America, via a house lifted aloft by hundreds (thousands?) of small helium balloons. They reach the fictional South American Paradise Falls, for which Ellie had longed to visit her whole life. This story is about letting go of things you cannot change and following your passions today, before it’s too late.
What is your favorite travel-inspiring family movie? Let us know in the comments!
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