TV shows to satisfy your travel craving

With self-isolation and social distancing being all the rage these days, most of us are probably spending a lot of time in front of the television. I sure am. Here are a few series I’ve been watching to satisfy my travel itch, at least a little bit, vicariously.

For the foodie

Parts Unknown

Hosted by the late chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain, this series was released in 2013 and ran for five seasons until Bourdain’s untimely passing. It features Bourdain travelling around the globe to uncover lesser known parts of the world, exploring unique food and dining rituals. I watched several of the seasons when they were still on Netflix, and they served as a great source of travel inspiration. My favourite episodes were the ones in Asia, particularly South Korea, Japan, Laos, and Vietnam (this episode was notable for his interview with Barack Obama while eating bun cha). You may remember from my Vietnam travel blog that we ended up visiting a banh mi spot in Hoi An made famous by Bourdain during his travels there.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

This is a new mini series that was just released late last year on Netflix, hosted by chef David Chang of Momofuku. It has a more lighthearted mood than Parts Unknown, featuring Chang’s explorations of international cuisine while accompanied by various celebrity guests. Mr. Chuckles and I enjoyed the episode in Phnom Penh with Kate McKinnon of Saturday Night Live, which we watched shortly before our departure to Cambodia. So far there have only been five episodes, but hopefully there will be another season, perhaps when the skies reopen.

For the nature lover

Our Planet

This mini documentary series was released on Netflix sometime in 2019, with eight episodes worth of epic cinematography exploring the planet’s range of ecosystems. From deserts and grasslands to coastal seas, you can go on a trip around the world from the comfort of your sofa while listening to the soothing narration of David Attenborough. The jungle episode was my personal favourite, for the gorillas.

Night on Earth

This is a nature documentary series focused on the nocturnal lives of animals. It was produced by the team that created Planet Earth II, another series that received some local press attention here as it featured an episode starring the racoons (colloquially known as ‘trash pandas’) of Toronto. As usual with these types of shows, the cinematography is impressive, employing state of the art low-light camera technology. The most entertaining episode for me was ‘Sleepless Cities’ – those little monkeys are pretty devious. Interestingly, the series is narrated by Samira Wiley of Orange Is The New Black, another binge-worthy Netflix production.

For the guilty pleasure

The Bachelor/Bachelorette

Please don’t judge me for this one! The world is in a dark place right now and I spend my days doing serious things, so sometimes I need something mindless as a reprieve. Besides being The Most Dramatic show ever, ABC’s Bachelor/Bachelorette series does also feature some travel. Toward the middle of the season, once the lucky Bachelor or Bachelorette has whittled down their selection, the contestants are all taken to some international location. At the same time as you are engrossed in all the romance related drama of this past season, you can admire views of destinations like Costa Rica, Peru, and Australia which serve as backdrops to cheesy dates that usually include a helicopter ride.

90 Day Fiancรฉ

If you’re looking for something even trashier to watch, 90 Day Fiancรฉ has got you covered. It is a reality show that follows long distance couples looking to get the non-American partner into the United States via the K1 ‘Fiancรฉ Visa’, which apparently allows them to enter the States for 90 days in order to get married. There are a zillion spinoffs, including Before The 90 Days and The Other Way, which feature the American partner travelling outside the country, where drama ensues. The series airs on reality show laden TLC, so you are forewarned that this is not exactly intellectually stimulating content. However, like I said, sometimes you just need some mindless entertainment!

What are you watching these days?

By the way, if the threat of COVID-19 or getting stranded abroad isn’t enough, you can also check out this post I wrote last month about movies to scare you out of travelling.

6 thoughts on “TV shows to satisfy your travel craving

  1. 1. I busted out laughing when you wrote that social distancing was “all the rage.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Like it’s trendy. Ha ha! Frankly, I wish everyone found it trendy but alas, there are those who still don’t seem to get it.
    2. Ugh. Orange is the New Black. Loved it… until season 5. The season that was almost entirely about the prison riot that lasted what – 3 days? Oh my God it was like watching a soap opera with how many episodes it took to get through it. I was like, “Can we please, please just wrap this up already?!” Needless to say, I couldn’t finish the season and didn’t finish the series. Ah well…
    3. The Bachelor? Ninety Day Fiance? Hey, now I don’t feel so guilty about my guilty pleasure, Survivor! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Fun post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you about Orange Is the New Black – I found the first couple seasons compelling but also lost interest during the season about the riot. I ended up skipping the rest of that season and picked it up again for the last one.

      Have no shame about your guilty pleasure viewing! I didn’t realize that Survivor is still on, must be about season 50 by now??

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nooo, not the Bachelor hahaha. I need to watch more Anthony Bourdain, I have a feeling he was bigger that side of the pond as I haven’t seen much of his stuff. Some of my favourite “travel” shows include Top Gear (when they do special episodes, e.g. they did a race through Vietnam which I think you would love if you haven’t seen it!) and Departures which used to be on Netflix but has apparently moved over to Prime. Also Dark Tourist on Netflix is brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Iโ€™ve heard about that Top Gear episode but havenโ€™t seen it, will have to check it out! I did see a couple episodes of Dark Tourist including the one in Cambodia where the guy visited a shooting range and was able to buy a cow to shoot with an assault rifle… crazy stuff!


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