15 Best Movies About Travel & Family Vacations for Kids

Your family can escape to an exciting destination from the comfort of your couch with these fantastic travel movies for kids. Inspire wanderlust, learn about other cultures, and have a whole lot of fun with this list of kid-friendly movies about travel that appeal to all ages.

Best family vacations movies for kids and teens
Best family vacations movies for kids and teens

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1. Finding Nemo

The Best Travel Movies for Kids - 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.

2. Coco

Coco - best travel movies for kids

Coco is Pixar’s 19th film and the first to star a minority character, Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old Latino boy. This exquisitely drawn animated film is filled with captivating Mexican artwork and folklore. Coco transports viewers to the Land of the Dead, an ethereal world bursting with color and music. The land’s ghostly inhabitants can connect with their Earth-dwelling loved ones once per year on Día de los Muertos. It’s truly one of my all-time favorite movies and it always makes me miss San Miguel de Allende, my family’s favorite Mexican city.

3. Brave

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Brave

Whereas earlier Disney movies showed princesses as pretty females waiting to be saved by 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!

4. The Sound of Music

Best travel movies for kids - 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.

5. Rio

Best travel movies for kids ~ Rio 1 & 2

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.

6. Moana

Best travel movies for kids, 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 a teenage heroine 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.

7. Ratatouille

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Ratatouille

Those of us who love all things French will surely fall tête over pieds for Ratatouille. 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).

8. Up

Best Travel Movies for Kids - 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, 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 sent 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.

9. The Gods Must Be Crazy II

Best Travel Movies for Kids - 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 it 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.

Beware, however, that the first The Gods Must Be Crazy movie is probably too scary for young children. My kids found a scene terrifying in which terrorists with guns kidnapped a classroom of children.

10. Frozen

Best travel movies for kids - Frozen

Inspired by The Snow Queen story by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen will melt your heart. It stars royal sisters, Elsa and Anna. 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.” Although the songs in Frozen 2 are not nearly as memorable as the anthems sung in the first movie, the graphics and plot line will please all ages.

11. Lilo & Stitch

Best Travel Movies for Kids - Lilo and 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. This story is all about “ohana.” As Lilo says, “Ohana means family, family means no one gets left behind. Or forgotten.”

12. White Fang

Best Travel Movies for Kids - 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. White Fang shows children the importance of being kind to animals.

13. Kung Fu Panda

Best travel movies for kids, 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. The movies stars Po, the bumbling yet butt-kicking panda. He’s assisted by 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.

14. Mulan

Best movies for kids - 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 criticized 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.

15. Madagascar

Best travel movies for kids, Madagascar

Another Dreamworks production, the Madagascar series features three 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 from these romping tales, but they sure are fun to watch.

No matter which of these you choose, your family is sure to embark on a fun adventure when you watch these travel movies for kids together!

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Travel Games for Families (Photo credit: Depositphotos.com)

Learn More

These travel games for kids are great for playing on the go or at home.

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Best Travel Movies for Families

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Reading is another great way to encourage a love of travel in children, so be sure to check out this list of the best travel books for kids, recommended by travel experts.

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


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  1. Aww COCO! What an adorable movie. (Impossible not to cry)
    You have great picks .. but I HAVE to add one that I absolutely love:
    Inside Out! It’s an amazing movie for both parents and kids.
    Don’t you think?

    1. Hi Susana – I love Inside Out too! It’s another one of my all-time favorite movies of any genre. I didn’t include it in this list, though, because it doesn’t really celebrate travel…besides travel through the brain. 🙂

    1. Sarah – If watching with young kids, stick to The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 — the first version includes a classroom kidnapping that my kids found terrifying.

  2. I love the way you describe each of these movies. The nice thing about watching movies like these is having the entire family together and enjoying something together. You nailed it with each of these movies. There is nothing worse than being stuck watching one of the worst movies ever but you sacrifice just the same for your kids. But none of these…these are fun to watch and have something meaningful for everyone…great choices.

    1. Ha! Yes, I have definitely watched many painful movies to please my kids over the years. So glad there are great movies for families to enjoy together, though, like all of these!

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

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