Summer's winding down, and as we approach the "hunker-down" days of autumn and winter, what better activity to amuse the armchair traveler than binge-watching Netflix shows? Rather than re-watching Breaking Bad for a fourth time, satisfy your travel cravings with our list of some of the best travel programs currently airing on Netflix (and don’t forget about our other favorites that are also available for streaming!).
An Idiot Abroad
Funded by comedian Ricky Gervais, An Idiot Abroad acts as part travel documentary and part prank by Gervais. In the show, camera crews follow the adventures of British TV personality Karl Pilkington as he travels to bucket-list destinations around the world. He scales the Great Wall of China and heads to the top of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, but the catch is that he doesn't want to do any of it. Loaded with witty discourses between the whiny Pilkington and exuberant Gervais, the program keeps you laughing, learning, and waiting to see what Gervais planned next.
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
Finally, Bourdain’s back on Netflix. Although not as food-focused — but there’s still plenty of eating — as his old show No Reservations, the CNN program similarly follows Bourdain to exotic, underground hideouts in some of the most popular destinations in the world. For example, in a controversial episode from the second season, Bourdain stepped inside of Detroit’s dilapidated Packard Plant, and he enjoyed dinner at an illegal restaurant. Parts Unknown caters to those searching to discover the underbellies of the world.
Hotel expert Anthony Melchiorri comes to the aid of struggling properties around the world in this reality series -- and gives viewers a look into the good, the bad, and the ugly in the hotel industry. After giving each hotel a walk-through to uncover why they’re not living up to their potential, he meets with the owners and employees to set into motion a plan to turn things around. Changes are made to the hotels’ physical appearance and operations and procedures... though you'll find that some hotel staffers aren’t very receptive to the modifications.
Of all television channels, the BBC creates some of the best travel programming out there. From Michael Palin’s series to Planet Earth and Life, it should come as no surprise that BBC’s Wild China is another excellent addition to the roster. The six-part nature documentary focuses on China’s wildlife and countryside, filming at the rice paddy fields of Yuanyang County, the Yunnan province near the Himalayas, and panda-filled jungles. The program offers a glimpse into China beyond its urban skylines.
This documentary shadows a thirteen-year-old girl’s attempt to sail around the world… alone. Let that sink in for a second. The film follows Laura Dekker’s voyage to become the youngest person to ever accomplish the Magellan-esque journey. Viewers witness the hardships Dekker encounters, such as deadly storms at sea, equipment troubles, and cultural differences. Does she complete the voyage? Well, watch and see.
Mile… Mile & a Half
This documentary follows a group of artists, musicians, and adventurers who hike the 211-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. Capturing the twenty-five day journey, the film shadows them down snow-capped peaks and through the panoramic landscape that inspires thousands of hikers every year.
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
Sugar cane rats. Horse heart tartare. Wallaby. That’s what’s on the menu when Andrew Zimmern travels the globe in search of some of the world’s most exotic foods. By the looks of this show, he’s certainly found what he's looking for. The question, however, isn’t if he can handle it -- its whether you can stomach watching it.
Come Fly with Me
Hilarity ensues in this slightly racy "mockumentary" sitcom, in which comedians Matt Lucas and David Walliams parody the inner workings of a British airport. Watch as they dress up as flight attendants, pilots, passengers, and even paparazzi. They get a little help from a parade of big name stars: Rupert Grint from Harry Potter and Friends star David Schwimmer, among others, make special appearances. As absurd as the scenarios tend to be, we'd bet that you'll be able to relate, at least in part.
These shows aren't solely travel-focused but still show you the world:
2. Man vs. Wild
Note: As of January 26, 2015, Man vs. Wild and Survivorman are no longer available for streaming online, but you can still get them on DVD through Netflix.
What did we forget? Let us know your favorite travels shows!