14 Travel shows to binge watch when you can’t travel

14 Travel shows to binge watch when you can’t travel

I didn’t travel much in the traditional sense that first year of the pandemic. And any traveling I did, I kept pretty local and low-key. Instead, I stayed home for the most part, binge watching too many travel shows on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, adding to my bucket list daily.

Now, here we are, almost 2 years later. We’ve all lived and re-lived through multiple stages of lock down, variant after variant. While some of us became experts on safe-travel-in-the-time-of-COVID, others of us became professional social-distancing channel surfers.

So whatever your situation, here’s a comprehensive list of travel shows to safely scratch that itch for adventure from the comfort and safety of your own couch. I’ll even tell you where to find them. Happy binge-watching!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

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Rick Steves

Tour guide Rick Steves is one of the first resources many people think of when they’re looking for travel advice. His shows are highly informational and cover many major tourist sites, a bit of history, and where to eat and sleep.

Although I may not sit and binge watch this series for entertainment sake, I have gotten some good tips here when planning trips in the past. For example, we stayed at Hotel Europa on Rick Steve’s suggestion. The price was very reasonable, the service good, and the location amazing!

Available on: Amazon Prime

Length: 25 minutes

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain’s best known travel shows have become quintessential holy grails of their genre—the gold standard of everything a travel show can and should be.

I’ve listed Anthony Bourdain travel shows (plus a movie) in the order I would suggest watching them. First, I’d start with No Reservations and Parts Unknown. These two travel shows will give you insight into the host’s philosophies and a respect for his work.

Next, I’d check out A Cook’s Tour. The contrast between this show and No Reservations really highlights his beginnings and growth through out his career. Lastly, I’d watch Roadrunner.

So many of the good times traveling this world relate directly to finding a human face to associate with your destination, the food you eat, and the memories you’ll keep with you forever. The best times are when it’s impossible to be cynical about anything. When you find yourself letting go of the past, and your preconceptions, and feel yourself and your basic nature, the sneakiness and suspicion, the irony and doubt, disappear, at least for a time. When, for a few moments or a few hours, you change.

Anthony Bourdain

No Reservations

On the surface, Anthony Bourdain seems a bit rough around the edges with a bad-boy reputation. In his series No Reservations, he explores other cultures through their cuisine. He gives a raw and honest look at other countries , both the good and the bad, all while expressing a deep respect and sensitivity. And he doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics.

No Reservations originally aired on the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel. This series ran for 9 seasons, from 2005 to 2012. My favorite episodes of No Reservations were of places I never would have thought to visit.

Available on: Discovery+

Length: 45 minutes (60 minutes with commercials)

Parts Unknown

Anthony Bourdain isn’t the type to show you all the major touristy sites. Instead, he will take you into the homes and the lives of people all around the world. His series Parts Unknown originally aired on CNN and ran from 2013 to 2018. Being a CNN show, this series focuses more on civil and political topics, with food more as a side note.

Available on: Buy on Amazon Prime, or coming soon on CNN+

Length: 60 minutes

A Cook’s Tour

Anthony Bourdain’s first travel show, A Cook’s Tour, originally aired for two seasons on the Food Network, running from 2001 to 2002. We quickly learned while watching this that he wasn’t a natural born travel guru. Anthony Bourdain fumbles a bit in this series with the newness of other cultures. This is not the well-traveled Tony we all came to know, who is shocked by nothing!

Available on: Free on Amazon Prime

Length: 20 minutes

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Ok, be prepared to cry with this one. This biographical film was released in 2021, and it does Anthony Bourdain a great honor. Like his later travel shows, this movie examines both the good and the bad. His loved ones discuss his genius without glossing over his struggles.

Roadrunner references all of Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows. And although the movie easily stands on its own, I did feel having watched his shows gave us deeper insight.

Available on: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime

Length: 2 hours

Somebody Feed Phil

With a theme song reminiscent of a ‘90’s sitcom, this travel show will give you all the feel-good vibes. The host, Phil Rosenthal, exudes a child-like wonder and excitement about new foods and cultures. Four seasons of Somebody Feed Phil are currently available for streaming, with rumors of a fifth season.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 45-60 minutes

Travel Man

Richard Ayoade, the host of Travel Man, gives off a somewhat jaded, are-we-done-yet vibe with a dry British humor. In this show, he explores new cultures in whirlwind 48-hour weekend visits. Many of the activities they highlight in this show are a bit quirky and off the beaten path. This show has eight seasons currently.

Available on: Free on Amazon Prime

Length: 20 minutes

Restaurants on the Edge

This inspirational show is what would happen if a cooking show, a travel show, and a home remodel show got together and made a baby.

The three hosts of this show discover struggling restaurant owners in breathtaking locations all over the world. And then they give these restaurants an unbelievable make over.

Karin redesigns and redecorates, Nick finds locally sourced ingredients, and Dennis reviews the menu. All the while, they remain mindful to highlight and accentuate each restaurant’s cultural ties. Two seasons of this series are currently available.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 40 minutes

Dark Tourist

Warning: This one-season travel show is definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. And even the not-so-easily-offended may find themselves, well…offended.

An oddly upbeat, quirky, and dissonant theme song sets the tone for this travel show quite accurately. The show feels a bit like a train wreck that you just can’t look away from. And although I’m not exactly jumping to add this show’s “tourist sites” to my next travel itinerary, it is extremely interesting.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 40 minutes

Street Food: Asia

This inspirational documentary series is narrated in the protagonist’s own voice, dubbed over by an interpreter in English. The narrators tell their stories full of pride, of how they overcame adversity through sharing their culture and their food. Travel to locations including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. One season is currently available.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 30 minutes

Street Food: Latin America

Street Food: Latin America is produced in the same style and format as Street Food: Asia. These series give you a glimpse of what daily life looks like for people in the food industry in countries around the world. In the Latin America series of Street Food, they travel to countries including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. One season is currently available.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 30 minutes

World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals

The hosts of this show, millennials Megan, Jo and Luis, explore vacation rental homes around the world. The three categories they investigate include budget friendly options, interesting designs, and luxury homes. You can find many (if not all) of the vacation homes they highlight on VRBO and AirBnB.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 30 minutes

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father

English comedian Jack Whitehall hosts this irreverent travel show, in which he convinces his upper-class, stuffy father (who’s never traveled before), to get outside his comfort zone.

The two men have very different ideas about how this is going to go down, though. Jack wants to rough it and backpack through their travels. His father wants only the highest luxury hotels and restaurants. It’s a bit absurd at times, and clearly scripted, but it did get a few laughs out of me.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 30 minutes (seasons 1&2); and 45-60 minutes (seasons 3-5)

We Speak Dance

This unique, one-season travel show is hosted by a dancer and former UN advisor, Vandana Hart. She travels all over the world, exploring cultures through learning and performing street dances. In season one, she travels to countries like Vietnam, Nigeria, and Indonesia.

Available on: Netflix

Length: 20 minutes

Further Reading

Watching these travel shows inspired in me a desire to visit places I may not have considered otherwise. Check out my bucket list here!

Have a favorite travel show I didn’t mention? Tell me about it so I can check it out.

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