Art of Escapism: these travel-themed films, books and podcasts will help you keep the isolation blues at bay

How to travel without actually going anywhere.

Stuck at home. Staring at the same four walls, and gazing into an unchanging horizon. Lockdown is — to put it gently — incredibly uninspiring. That’s why we’ve tapped our Travel Experts for their ultimate recommendations for isolation escapism (guilty pleasures and high-brow treasures alike); from a relatably dour Bill Murray to the gastronomical daydreams of Chef’s Table.

We’ll be bringing a new set of suggestions each week. After all, if you’re anything like us then you’ll be churning through these pretty quickly. Strap yourself in.

Feature Films
Lost in Translation (2003)

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen form an odd but enthralling couple in this indie classic – where the streets, bars and hotel lobbies of Tokyo set the scene for this strange and bitter-sweet sort-of romantic comedy, where two strangers find escapism together from their own, private isolations. Subtle, affecting and witty, this is a powerful and oddly uplifting meditation on life, love and loneliness. Also, Bill Murray does karaoke.


Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Russia during the 1917 Revolution doesn’t exactly sound like an ideal scene to escape to. Yet the country’s haunting beauty in David Lean’s sprawling, epoch-defining romantic drama will have you mesmerised. From the opulence of imperial Moscow to the exposed Siberian tundra, this is perhaps Omar Sharif and Julie Christie’s finest filmic moment. And the hats are excellent.

Documentary Films
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

German director and all-around angst merchant Werner Herzog travels to the Chauvet Caves of Southern France. His quarry? A thrillingly rare encounter with some of humanity’s earliest art, with its daubs, lines and rearing animals dating back some 32,000 years. Gazing into the abyss, he asks: “Nothing is real. Nothing is certain.” Chilling.

Given (2016)

Simple yet powerfully reflective, this charming film tracks a globe-strutting adventure by the Goodwin family – and all from the perspective of their six-year-old son. Exploring the highs and lows (but mostly highs) of 15 countries, this is a magical and easygoing way to get away from it all – without getting away from it at all.

Mini Series
Chef’s Table (2015 – )

Ah, Chef’s Table. Like Manna from heaven, this Emmy-nominated series is a gourmand’s dream. Enjoy a unique glimpse into the lives and passions of some of the world’s most renowned chefs. Each episode introduces you to a new culinary character, offering insight into their personal world of food. Just in case you need some lockdown dinner inspiration, eh?

Race Across the World (2019 – )

Join a thrilling journey across the world as five pairs of travellers race from London to the Far East, choosing any (and we mean any) route they like. There’s just one catch: no flights, technology or credit cards allowed. All you get is a map and the equivalent cost of the flight. This is smart travel truly at it’s best. Jam-packed with thrills, laughs and uncertainties, this an adventure you won’t want to miss.

Wild and Exposed

Learn about the world of wildlife photography and filmmaking from the professionals themselves. This podcast charts the ins and outs of what it takes to capture the natural world on film. From lenses and equipment to how you can film a bear without getting – well  – turned into a meal.

Listen here: Wild & Exposed

TED Radio Hour

Now that you have time to spare, take a moment to enjoy this weekly, hour-long radio program and podcast. Our favourite? “Peering into space,” where various TED speakers share their sense of infectious wonder and curiosity about our place in the universe and what lies beyond our skies – from the big bang to deadly asteroids.

Listen here: TED Radio Hour

Life of Pi (2001)

Yann Martel’s tale of survival is harrowing and contemplative. Written from the perspective of a young boy, we follow the tale of his 227 days spent drifting across the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat. Accompanied only by a Bengal tiger and an imagination that seems to have no limitations, the Life of Pi is bound to test your own creativity during this period of isolation. If you own a cat then you’re already half way there.

Buy here: Life of Pi

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (1959)

Travel back in time to August 1914, as Alfred Lansing beautifully narrates the miraculous voyage of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. A journey that provided us with an awe-inspiring example of the limits of human endurance in our history. Told with respect and clarity, read the true tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men and their attempt to survive as castaways in one of the most hostile regions in the world.

Buy here: Endurance