Most traveling is done out there. We lace up our shoes, pack up our gear, sling our fancy cameras around our necks and just go. No looking back. There are times, however, when we’re relaxing at home, recharging our batteries, and need some inspiration to get us on our feet again. From wildlife wonder in Africa, to alcoholic shenanigans in Booze Traveler, to old-fashion treasure-hunting in Expedition Unknown, these Netflix picks will reignite your curiosity and push you out the door for another adventure.
Creator: Lydia Tenaglia
Stars: Anthony Bourdain
Original Network: CNN
Parts Unknown takes a deep dive into the culture and history of a destination—classic Bourdain travel. Travelers with an affinity for authenticity and an understanding of a location that seek a Netflix cure for the travel bug should look no further. As Bourdain leads viewers through restaurants, music venues and bars, he explores a much deeper narrative. The audience can listen in on conversations about hard-to-ask questions and taboo subjects like politics, race relations and unfamiliar customs that bring both sides to the table. Gain an appreciation for unsuspecting places with the insight of Bourdain’s time spent with locals.
Creators: Jack Steward, Colleen Needles Steward, Shannon Keenan Demers, Erin Anzalone, Chad Gajadhar
Stars: Jack Steward and Colton Smith
Original Network: ABC
Hosts Jack Steward and Colton Smith have turned their passion into their dream job. This ABC series with executive producers, Jack Steward, Colleen Needles Steward, Shannon Keenan Demers, Erin Anzalone and Chad Gajadhar, have made it their mission to explore every National Park in the country. Steward and Smith push their physical and mental limits exploring the parks while having rambunctious adventures along the way. Who wouldn’t want to take part in the excitement?
Creator: Chris Brancato,Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro
Stars: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, Paulina Gaitán, Maurice Compte, Joanna Christie
Original Networks: Netflix
Narcos is a series based on the true events surrounding the development of cocaine drug cartels in Colombia and the violent conflicts that ensued because of them. The life of drug lord Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) is traced through the growth of the Medellín Cartel, chronicling the events that led to his eventual imprisonment. DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) sets out on a mission to capture Escobar, following his path throughout Colombia, Panama, Bogotá, the United States (more specifically Miami), and a brief period in Peru. The vessels used to carry these drugs across borders range from cars to planes to boats, showing fans the vastness of landscape covered in stunning shades of blue water and thick, green foliage.
Creators: Brian Leith and Dale Templar
Star: John Hurt
Original Network: BBC
Human Planet explores 40 countries rooted with danger and richness. Each episode of the eight-part series focuses on a different human-inhabited environment including the Arctic, grasslands, jungles, deserts, rivers, oceans, mountains and the urban landscape. Executive producers Brian Leith and Dale Templar of the BBC documentary follow John Hurt while describing our relationship with nature by featuring the noteworthy ways humans have adapted to the life in every environment on earth. Are you ready to explore the world?
Creator: Travel Channel
Stars: Jack Maxwell
Original Network: Travel Channel
From beer baths to fun facts, the Booze Traveler crosses the globe to drink local with locals. Maxwell searches for unique drinks specific to their destinations such as Austrian turnip or pinecone schnapps. Dive into culture with families and learn about the role alcohol has and continues to play in national and regional traditions. For an experience no one will likely remember, Maxwell uncovers the best bars and what to order for a full immersion into a locale. Pull up a chair and delve into history as the foremost bartenders concoct potent cocktails. No need to worry about the morning-after pain; the Booze Traveler even covers traditional hangover cures.
Creators: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Stars: Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Original Network: BBC Worldwide
The Emmy-award-winning duo behind The Office is pulling the best prank of all time: sending their cynical and grumpy best friend around the world. Karl Pilkington is the kind of traveler we are at times, but would never want to admit. He hates leaving his comfort zone, especially when it means eating fried scorpions in China or wing walking over the plains of Ohio. Idiot Abroad will make you cry with laughter and itch to explore the world.
Creator: Zero Point Zero Production Inc.
Stars: Anthony Bourdain
Original Network: Travel Channel
The Layover combines satire with useful tips to form the perfect back-handed show. A concept that takes viewers to airports with the highest traffic details how to explore these cities in forty-five (or fewer) hours between flights. While the show could easily be referred to as “Bourdain’s Plight of the Hipsters,” the crew films Bourdain’s way around town while interviewing locals along the way. From where to stay and how to get there upon landing to which restaurants or shops to stop in, Bourdain takes viewers through the logistics of the city while uncovering lesser known but worthwhile stops. This tongue-in-cheek travel show ties insight, insult and laughter to create a self-inflicted Bourdain parody.
Creators: Tara Sandler, Jennifer Davidson
Stars: Suzanne Whang
Original Network: HGTV
If you’re looking to buy a house halfway around the world, or just daydreaming about retiring in a few decades, this is the show for you. Each episode focuses on a different couple leaving their boring ol’ American lives behind for new exciting ones abroad. This HGTV treasure doesn’t discriminate—whether it’s an old couple moving to an exotic island mansion or some (very brave) parents moving nine kids to the Italian countryside for $700 a month. House Hunters International Collection really does show it all.
Creators: Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, David Alexanian, Russ Malkin
Stars: Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
Original Network: BBC Two
It’s time for a bike ride with celebrity friends Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they experience an epic motorcycle journey from Scotland to South Africa. Along with McGregor and Boorman, David Alexanian and Russ Malkin created the BBC Two series which makes pit stops along the way spotting zebras and gorillas between Kenya and Rwanda. See if you can keep up with these two on their 15,000-mile journey in just 85 days.
Creator: BBC Natural History Unit, David Attenborough,
Star: David Attenborough
Original Network: BBC One
One thing makes watching Africa completely irresistible—the animals. Focusing on a different ecosystem each episode, the BBC documentary gets up close and personal with wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Beautifully shot and expertly narrated, Africa lets viewers kick back and enjoy the view while they learn about some of the world’s most diverse (and totally breath-taking) regions. Feeling educated has never been so painless.
Creator: DJ Nurre, Vince DiPersio
Stars: Cliff Hodges, Alex Coker
Original Network: National Geographic Channel
This mini-series raises the stereotypical question, “Can they survive in the wild?” However, the contestants aren’t urine-drinking Bear Grylls wannabes; they’re completely average people spending a couple of days stumbling around remote deserts or rainforests by themselves. They’re guided through a headset by one of two survival experts: Cliff, the owner of an outdoor company, or Alex, a retired air sniper/CIA agent. Not only is the show unscripted, but the participants’ only reward is making it out alive—which oddly makes the show incredibly refreshing.
Creators: Brad Kuhlman, Josh Gates
Star: Josh Gates
Original Network: Travel Channel
If you were always searching for buried treasure as a child, then Expedition Unknown is for you. Follow Josh Gates as he hikes through sizzling deserts and dives into reef-filled oceans to bust myths, find lost cities, and yes, find where the “X” marks the spot. Both researcher and explorer, Gates chats with local historians one minute and is army-crawling through a cave the next. Unleash that little kid inside and watch this archaeologist take on the world.
Creator: Kamini Pather
Stars: Kamini Pather
Original Network: Food Network
In Girl Eat World, MasterChef South America winner Kamini Pather documents her journey around the world to uncover the hidden gems within the food communities of ten different destinations. Each location introduces a new city and new culinary experiences, unveiled with the help of local food bloggers. Ultimately, Kamini’s goal is to show how food influences the culture of a city, whether it be eclectic street food in Copenhagen, or fresh sushi in Tokyo. However, along the way, we also get a glimpse into the lives of the people creating the food for their city. The divide between cultures is bridged by the love of food, shared amongst friends both new and old.
Creator: Rajesh Shinde, Gerry Troyna
Star: Bernard Hill
Original Network: BBC Four
India’s Frontier Railways doesn’t have any of the frills, bells or whistles found in other travel documentaries. The BBC program, which chronicles travel along the railways of India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, focuses on real people taking real, everyday journeys. The show doesn’t have a travel-savvy host, otherworldly vistas or inspiring music, but it does take a look at families, coworkers and friends as they travel through some of the more unknown parts of the South Asia. Also, there are only three episodes in the series, making it easily binge-able in a single day.
Creator/Star: Phil Rosenthal
Original Network: PBS
If you can handle the occasional dad joke, this mini-series follows Everybody Loves Raymond creator and producer, Phil Rosenthal, as he eats his way around the globe—exploring a range of cities and tastes, including $1000 cantaloupe and ‘gourmet’ boiled ants. Even though the show features a bunch of entertainment high-rollers, most of the restaurants are accessible to the average budget traveler. In his own words, “I don’t like to go to more than one splurgy-like place per visit.” Touché, Phil.