“I’m a free spirit,” writes Cheryl Strayed in Wild, her memoir. “Who never had the balls to be free.”
Some of us – such as Robyn Davidson, who walked across the Australian desert with just her dog and four camels – do have the balls to be free. It is an urge deep-rooted in our soul. Others of us – such as Strayed – must summon the courage.
But no matter where you lie on the spectrum, once you get going, once you head out on an adventure, that sense of freedom stays with you.
If you, too, have wanderlust coursing through your veins, stop everything you are doing.
Ahead, we’ve picked out five movies – based on some of the best travel books – that are sure to fuel your sense of adventure. From Jack Kerouac’s iconic work of fiction, On the Road, to Elizabeth Gilbert’s charming memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, these stories will make you want to pack your bags and hit the road ASAP.
So, what are you waiting for?
When life starts to unravel for Cheryl Strayed – the sudden death of a parent, a divorce, and drug addiction will do that to you – she knows she should make a change. Enter: The Pacific Crest Trail. In Wild, Strayed chronicled her three-month journey along the trail, and all the soul-searching, self-examination and transformations that come with such a trip. Strayed’s writing is magical, which is no doubt why Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon jumped on the chance to play Strayed in the movie of the same name.
2. Into the Wild
In 1992, Christopher McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska and walked, alone, into the wilderness. He was 24 years old. It was intended to be the ultimate adventure, after years on the road, but ultimately it would be McCandless’ last. In Into the Wild, writer Jon Krakauer reconstructs the events leading up to McCandless’ death, using the clues McCandless left behind on his epic journey across America and into the wild. It makes for a bracing read, while the movie – directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch as McCandless – is heart-rending stuff.
3. Eat, Pray, Love
When her divorce leaves her broke and stumbling, Elizabeth Gilbert decides a new adventure is in order. She packs up her life with the intention of spending a year travelling the world. In Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert chronicles her three four-month stints in each of Italy, India and Indonesia. Each location opens Gilbert’s eyes to new experiences, new adventures, and different ways of life – and love, naturally. The book was so celebrated that superstar Julia Roberts signed on to play Gilbert in the movie version of the same name.
4. On the Road
Ever since Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel On the Road was first published in 1957, it has been moving young people everywhere to hit the road without looking back. The book sets off at a fast clip as its main characters, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, traverse across America. The duo experience jazz, sex, drugs and the wild landscape in a brand new way, seemingly teeming with energy. No other book inspires travellers quite the way On the Road does. In 2012, Walter Salles finally turned this iconic novel into a film headlined by Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart.
In 1977, Australian woman Robyn Davidson walked across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert with only four camels and her beloved dog, Diggety, for company. Eventually, Davidson agreed to write a story for National Geographic about her epic nine-month adventure, and the article garnered so much interest she turned it into a book. Tracks offers readers a compelling inside look at a story of significant transformation. The 2013 film of the same name, starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver, is a picture-perfect adaptation that fast brings the unforgiving desert to life.
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