14 Best Travel Movies for Kids that Parents Will Love Too

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Your family can escape to an exciting destination from the comfort of your couch with these travel movies for kids. As a travel enthusiast who loves to explore the world through cinema with my children, here are my picks for the best travel movies for kids that parents will love too.

Best Travel Movies for Kids that Parents Will Love Too

1. Finding Nemo

This is the ultimate “road trip” movie, even though Finding Nemo‘s journey takes place under water. When clown fish Nemo is scooped from the sea and plopped into 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. Of course, they encounter terrifyingly funny obstacles and dangers along the way. Sequel, Finding Dory, in which the title character sets out on a quest to find her parents, is equally as entertaining and adventurous as the original.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. The young heroine fights for her right to choose her own destiny in this animated film. 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. Sons, too!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. It all takes place against the backdrop of gorgeous, sweeping views of the Austrian Alps. It's a long movie and can be slow-moving at times, 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 Salzberg to visit the beautiful sites featured in this classic movie.

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. Expect plenty of samba dance scenes, feathered costumes and decorated floats. My kids love Rio 2 as much as the first in the series. Thankfully, you can buy both films in a combo pack.

Best travel movies for kids ~ Rio 1 & 2

5. Moana

As someone who feels called to explore the world, I can relate to Moana‘s title character's desire to sail beyond the safety of her home. Embark on a journey with teenage heroine, Moana, as she seeks to find a solution to her island's dwindling food supply. Along the way, she meets Maui, a mischievous and thieving demigod who stole the heart of the island, Te Fiti. Maui and Moana eventually band together to fight off disasters like an angry god named Te Kā', a typhoon, and coconut-armored pirates. In the end, the island's heart is restored and all is well. She and her family, however, set out on another sailing adventure, answering the call to travel that is their blood. Your family will gain some insight to Polynesian culture and mysticism by watching this movie.

Best travel movies for kids, Moana

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 cuisine. Although it is a rat doing the cooking, by the end of the movie you will be craving French cheese, omelets, soup, 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 characters meet, fall in love with each other and with the idea of travel, marry, attempt (unsuccessfully) to start a family, and grow old. Then Ellie dies, breaking poor Carl's heart.

Enter Wilderness Explorer Russell. This little boy flies with now elderly Fredricksen to South America, via a house lifted aloft by thousands of small helium balloons. They reach the fictional Paradise Falls, for which Ellie had longed to visit her whole life. Up 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. They mistakenly thought is was 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. It stars princess sisters, Elsa and Anna. But kids are especially enamored with 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. Lilo & Stitch

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

11. White Fang

Based on the novel by American novelist Jack London, White Fang is named for the story's main animal character. This wolf-dog 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

12. Kung Fu Panda

Made up of three feature-length films and other shorts, the Kung Fu Panda franchise is the most popular animated movie series in China's history by ticket sales. It stars Po the bumbling yet butt-kicking panda and the Furious Five—Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane—a quintet of kung fu masters. These Dreamworks movies are widely regarded as being more culturally accurate than Disney's Mulan. Furthermore, the franchise's humor and action scenes appeal to kids and adults alike.

Best travel movies for kids, Kung Fu Panda

13. Mulan

Mulan is based upon a legendary female warrior, renowned for taking her elderly father's place in the army in 5th century China. Although some criticized the movie for confusing Japanese and Chinese culture in some respects, the movie is attractively illustrated. It gives a nice, if Americanized, taste of Asian culture to families. Plus, Mulan gets extra points for its girl power message and focus on familial love.

Best movies for kids - Mulan

14. Madagascar

Another Dreamworks series, the Madagascar series features three (soon-to-be four) full-length films plus a couple of spin-offs. Starring a bunch of friendly wild animals, the first movie focuses on their escape from the Central Park Zoo in New York and subsequent shipwrecking on the island of Madagascar. In Madagascar 2, the friends wind up crash-landing in Africa. The third movie sends the zebra, hippo, lion and giraffe buddies to Europe. I don't know how much your kids will actually learn about the world from these romping tales, but they sure are fun to watch.

Best travel movies for kids, Madagascar

No matter which of these you choose, you're family is sure to embark on a fun adventure when you sit down to watch these travel movies for kids together.

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

A Note from the Travel Mama: We originally published this story in 2012 and then updated it in 2017.

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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