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Travel documentaries

Five timeless travel documentaries that will inspire wanderlust 

I've had an affinity for travel documentaries, which are ultimately always adventure stories, since I was a child. I am fascinated by the courage of globetrotters to set off into the unknown and I find it incredibly exciting what long journeys do to people.

Some of the protagonists presented here travel alone, some as a couple or as a family. Some travel on foot, others by plane or bicycle. All the stories are exciting and everyone has in common the amazement of this beautiful world and its wonderful inhabitants.

 1.    FAR (2017) – hitchhiking around the world as a couple or family

My favorite travel documentary FAR by Gwen Weisser and Patrick Allgaier was the surprise cinema hit of 2017. The video diary of the two with over 500 hours of material from their three and a half year trip around the world is, in my opinion, a deeply optimistic film. The couple wanted to travel around the world without ever getting on a plane. They cover over 100.000 kilometers and even walk the last thousand kilometers to Freiburg from Barcelona. Equipped with a lot of curiosity, they set off on their journey packed with tents and hitchhiking and experience every climate zone, small low points, magical moments and great miracles. On the journey they become parents to their first child and allow the viewer to take part in this very intimate journey in a pleasant way.

The couple travels the world so openly and unbiasedly and talks about their encounters in such an unfiltered way that it almost feels like you are there. The film always touches me deeply because it really focuses on people. And they communicate all over the world with gestures, songs, looks and smiles. The two say about this experience that they exchanged fantasy for experience and made being on the road their everyday life.

Patrick and Gwen now have three children and are currently expanding a former clinic in the Black Forest with a few friends and colleagues into a social multi-generational housing project and excursion destination. They also founded the Terran Movement, which promotes travel without planes and a grounded lifestyle.


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2.    BETTER WORLD THAN NEVER (2018) – around the world by bike alone

Dennis Kailing, then twenty-five years old, set off on his bike in 2015 – more or less untrained. He drives over 43.600 kilometers over two years and travels to 41 countries. Most of the time he travels alone, sometimes he stays with people for a few days and occasionally he joins other travelers. What makes Dennis so likeable and authentic is that he always gets involved with the people, their customs and their language. Children in particular just think the young guy on the bike is cool. As with all travelers, most people are very impressed when the traveler talks about the route they have already traveled and their future travel plans. Especially since many of them have never traveled far. Traveling is and always will be an incredible privilege and this film makes that very clear. Dennis is exposed to a wide variety of weather on his bike and has to change the tires over sixty times. Sometimes he wants to give up, but he never complains and instead just keeps cycling on to the next adventure.


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Film: Better world than never

3. REAR AWAY (2019) – as a couple in a jeep through Africa

Lena and Ulli want to drive their jeep from Hamburg to South Africa and will be on the road for a total of two years. The couple doesn't make it to South Africa, but they still take a breathtaking journey through the huge continent. They report very openly about the lack of privacy, illnesses or simply difficult moments. What makes her human encounters all the more wonderful, especially with curious children, whom Lena sometimes teaches to swim. A lot of things don't go as planned and at the same time they continue to enjoy the surprising moments and the great hospitality of this incredible continent.


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Run away - adventure film

4.    LEAVING THE FRAME (2019) – as a couple with the beetle through North America

The documentary by Maria, a successful German actress, and her husband Manu, who works as a videographer, about their trip around the world is the most cinematic of the documentaries presented here. The images and texts are filmed and recorded very professionally based on the protagonists' professions. Your almost 20.000 kilometer journey from Mexico across the USA to Newfoundland, Kenya and Hawaii is varied and exciting. The authentic interviews with real heroes who want to make a difference in the world are particularly touching. Like Sister Mary Jane, for example, who takes care of orphans in Kenya with a lot of humor and warmth and is currently collecting funds for a new orphanage.

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Film adventure

5. ACROSS BORDERS (2021) – alone on a motorcycle through Asia

Having just retired, Margot's ceiling falls on her head at home. She would rather experience something again than just wait to get older. She has been meticulously preparing for her planned trip for almost two years. She takes self-defense and Russian courses, submits visa applications and does precise route planning. In the end, she will ride over 18.000 kilometers on a motorcycle in just four months, reaching the Pamir Mountains and the Hindu Kush. This film proves in an incredibly authentic way that older people also have a passion for travel and wandering and can travel the world courageously and self-sufficiently. Margot remains incredibly relaxed and humorous in everything she encounters. It doesn't matter whether your vehicle breaks down for the first time after XNUMX kilometers or whether there is a sink in your home but no water. On the route, strangers, her son on the phone or she herself with YouTube tutorials help her to repair the motorcycle. She says, “The departure is the most difficult thing, being on the road is easy and beautiful.” It won't be her last trip - a short time later Margot travels to Laos in her old Benz. And it makes me happy that wanderlust never ends and always takes you – more or less adventurously – out of your comfort zone.


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About borders

Photos: Unsplah / Julentto Photography, screenshots by the documentary makers

Geraldine works as a freelance writer for Good Travel and has just completed training as a sustainability manager. After twenty exciting years in film, she now devotes herself full-time to her other passions - travel, food and design.


  • Elisabeth+Klein-Altstedde

    😊❤ Geraldine always inspires me with her wonderful lectures.
    I'm happy about it every time. 💝

  • Markus

    Check out “Elsewhere – Alone in Africa.” For me the most impressive cycling documentary, especially because of the protagonist Anselm. Plus Biking Borders, simply unbelievably great...

    • Geraldine Voss
      Geraldine Voss

      Dear Markus, thank you for the great tips and happy new year! Kind regards, Geraldine


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