Best Travel Movies for Kids

Your family doesn’t need to leave home to be transported to another place when you watch movies together that focus on traveling or that take place in a dreamy destination. As a travel enthusiast who loves to explore the world through cinema with my children, here are my picks for the ten best travel movies for kids that parents will love too.

The Best Travel Movies for Kids

1. Finding Nemo

This is the ultimate “road trip” movie even though Finding Nemo‘s journey takes place under the sea. When clown fish Nemo is scooped from the sea and plopped in to a dentist’s aquarium, he sets his sights on returning to his dad, Marlin, in the ocean. Comic relief is provided by forgetful fish Dory as Marlin travels from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney, Australia to find his boy, encountering obstacles and dangers along the way.

The Best Travel Movies for Kids - Finding Nemo

2. Brave

Whereas earlier Disney movies showed princesses as pretty females awaiting savior from their princes, Pixar’s Brave is about an independent and brave young princess, Merida, fighting for her right to choose her own destiny. When Merida’s wish to turn her mother into a bear comes true, this cautionary tale demonstrates the importance of appreciating your parents. The story takes place in Scotland with much plaid, kilts, gorgeous green scenery and lilting accents. All mothers should watch this movie with their daughters.

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Brave

3. The Sound of Music

This musical, created in 1965, still enraptures audiences of all ages 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.

The Best Travel Movies for Kids - The Sound of Music

4. Rio

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 kaleidoscope of colorful birds flying in unison to upbeat music. The story moves from Minnesota to Rio, with Blu the male Blue Macaw and his owner Linda. These two main characters 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.

The Best Travel Movies for Kids - Rio

5. Lilo & Stitch

The artwork, music and characters of this movie impart an authentic Hawaiian feel even though it has an otherworldly storyline with an alien, Stitch, being chased by the CIA. Lilo & Stitch takes place on Kauai and stars Lilo, a rambunctious little girl, who is an excellent hula dancer and surfer that is a bit 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.”

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Lilo and Stitch

6. Ratatouille

As a lover of all things French, Ratatouille is my cup of café 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 tomatoes, garlic, onions, egg plant, bell peppers, and spices).

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Ratatouille

7. Up

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. His wife-to-be is 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, breaking poor Carl’s heart. Enter Wilderness Explorer Russell, a little boy who flies with now elderly Fredricksen to South America, via a house lifted aloft by 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.

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Up

8. The Gods Must Be Crazy II

The second in a series of two movies about African bushman Xixo, this movie focuses primarily on his children. His adorable tots, Xiri and Xisa climb aboard a truck in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, mistakenly thinking it is an animal of some sort since they had never before seen such a vehicle. When they are transported far from home, their father chases after them, encountering and saving dullard Westerners along the way. The only PG movie of the bunch, The Gods Must Be Crazy II is so rated for some mild violence and a couple of scenes where the female lead is shown in her bra and underpants (for comedic affect more than titillation). The movie’s message about the importance of family provides a great learning lesson for youngsters.

Best Travel Movies for Kids - The Gods Must Be Crazy II

9. Frozen

Inspired by “The Snow Queen” story by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen will melt your heart with its endearing princess sisters, Elsa and Anna, and their lovable snowman friend, Olaf. The story takes place in the fictional town of Arendelle, which was designed by Disney to resemble the port town of 19th century Bergen, Norway. The traditional Norwegian costumes and architecture will transport viewers to Scandinavia as they sing along to the movie’s inspirational song, “Let it Go.”

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Frozen

10. White Fang

Based on the novel by American novelist Jack London, White Fang is named for the story’s main animal character, a wolf-dog who is often mistreated by humans. Eventually he is adopted by Jack, a young man who earns the wary canine’s trust and affection. The movie is filmed beautifully in Alaska’s Yukon. White Fang shows children the importance of being kind to animals.

Best Travel Movies for Kids - White Fang

What are your family’s favorite travel movies for kids? Let us know in the comments!

A Note from the Travel Mama: This post contains links to the Travel Mamas Store. This story was originally published in 2012 and then updated in 2016.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. We love Up & Ratatouille as well. Gosh, there are so many good ones! Aside from those you mentioned, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Curious George come to mind. They remind me of when I went to Africa myself, and the kids love them!

  2. One of my favorites with the kids has to be Madagascar. My son is always asking to visit Africa now!

  3. Our kids LOVE RIO – seriously – love it! I totally agree with this list – my 6 year old scares easily and cant handle Up (seriously) – but we could road trip with this list for sure!

  4. Tom Lanin says:

    We really enjoyed Up. In fact we watched it a second time on an international flight and enjoyed it again. Please note that we were both 65 when we first saw Up so I’m not sure that counts as an endorsement for a Kids’ movie. Also, Sound of Music has been a particular favorite of ours since Julie Andrews reminds us all of the Travel Mama’s mama.

  5. I was just thinking about the new Madagascar 3 movie that comes on this summer. They travel to Europe and from what I’ve seen so far, the film features some great artistic views of some beautiful cities I’d love to travel to someday!

  6. Excellant list! I agree with Rio 100% for the same reason, I totally want to jet off to Brazil and samba!

    Finding Nemo, don’t you want to travel through the Australian Current or just be on the open sea after seeing that movie? The animation for underwater is done so well. I doubt I’ll ever pick up scuba diving, so thank goodness for this film giving me the next best thing ; )

    Madagascar 2 and 3 — I am glad I’m not the only one who is saying the one that hasn’t even come out yet… we are huge fans of these movies and I think part of why is the place it takes you to!

  7. Our favorite is Mulan! Inspired our trip to China

  8. Great picks!!!! I love all 5 of those movies 🙂

  9. Awesome picks. We have all of them on our list.

    A few more suggestions:
    Incredible Me
    Toy Story
    Puss and Boots
    They’re good enough movies that I don’t go completely buggy 🙂 after watching them for the upteenth time with my little ones.

  10. We like Alpha & Omega, since they reference Canada’s Jasper National Park:)

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      I’ve added “Alpha & Omega” to the Travel Mamas Store listing of travel movies for kids. My family will need to re-watch that one!

  11. I would have to say I loved the original Gods Must Be Crazy better, but you also just reminded me about White Fang! Loved that one!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      I love the original “Gods Must Be Crazy” as well, but I think the second movie is more appealing to kids because of the role the two children play in the film. 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Amy – I just re-watched the original “Gods Must Be Crazy” movie this weekend with my kids and realized how violent it was. I had forgotten the part where the school children were kidnapped by the guerillas at gun point. We don’t watch a lot of violent movies so we had to fast forward through some of these scenes, which my 8-year-old and 11-year-old found super scary. It’s not as funny or interesting as the second one either, in my opinion. You’ve got to give the sequel a second chance!

  12. Love these – and we’re into a lot of Studio Ghibli films, for the Japanese influence, as well as the eco-themes.

  13. This is a great list! Sound of Music has definitely inspired me for years. I’d add Snow Dogs or Mystery, Alaska as movies that made me want to go to Alaska.

  14. Some great picks! My kids were super excited about visiting New York City because of Elf 🙂

  15. So fun and timely!! Movies sure take the edge off flights for practically every age and stage ….

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Agreed! I tend to get motion sick on flights and nothing takes my mind off of feeling sick like a good movie!

  16. Some of my favorite movies!!! We love Lilo and Stitch, Brave, and of course Finding Nemo!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      My kids thought I should put “Lilo and Stitch” first, but I love “Finding Nemo” because it’s more of a true travel adventure!

  17. We love watching movies set in places we’re going or places we’ve been.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Us too! It gets us excited for where we’re headed next and gives us a chance to relive past travels together!

  18. I love using movies to get kids excited about a new destination. I’ve watched all these shows except The Gods Must Be Crazy and it is now on my list. I’m the only one in the family that enjoyed Ratatouille as well for some reason – cute show!! We also read about the destination and use books to introduce culture, art, music, animals – something interesting and new about our destination. This gives the kids a foundation to build upon once they see the new things and makes the adventure richer for everyone!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Educational Tourist – Just be sure to watch the sequel of “The Gods Must Be Crazy” ~ the first one is too scary for kids and not nearly as entertaining!

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