Are you looking for some of the most inspiring movies about nomads? Then you’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re in dire need of some motivation to start travelling the world, are setting off on your first nomadic journey, or are already living a nomadic lifestyle, this list has got you covered.
I’m updating this post frequently and am always on the lookout for more movies about nomads, so let me know in the comments if you know a film that’s missing from this list.
But without further ado, here are some of the best movies and documentaries about people living nomadic lifestyles.
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Movies about nomads
1. Into the Wild (2007)
This movie tells the true story of Chris McCandless, a college graduate who abandoned his possessions, gave all of his savings to charity, and hitchhiked across North America to live in the Alaskan wilderness by himself. Into the Wild was based on the research and book with the same name by author Jon Krakauer.
It’s an inspiring yet tragic movie that comes with a beautiful soundtrack full of travel songs (that I’m quite addicted to) by Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam.
2. Nomadland (2020)
Nomadland shares the journey of a woman in her sixties who starts living on the road after losing everything in the Great Recession. While grieving the death of her husband, she embarks on a van-life journey through the American West.
A cool thing about this movie is that a number of real-life nomads appear in it playing a fictionalized version of themselves. If you need some motivation to step out of your comfort zone, then this is the movie for you!
3. Wild (2014)
After a failed marriage, the passing of her mother, and years of self-destructive behaviour, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. This is when she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. She has no previous experience but is determined to complete the 1.770 km (1.100 miles) hike, a journey that will forever change her life.
Wild is one of the most inspiring movies about nomads that I’ve seen so far. It’s great to see how determined Cheryl is to reach her goal and how she learns new things along the way.
4. The Way (2010)
The Way is a touching story about a father who heads to France to retrace the last days of his nomadic son’s life. Once he gets there, he decides to hike the El Camino de Santiago, which is where his son passed away. He carries his son’s ashes with him so that he can finish the trail for both of them. On the way, he encounters many other hikers, who are all looking for something.
This is a beautiful and touching movie that features some stunning European landscapes.
5. Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
Based on the book of the same name, Eat, Pray, Love tells the story of Elizabeth Gilbert, a woman living the American dream with a beautiful house, a husband, and a successful career. This doesn’t make her feel happy or fulfilled, though, so she decides to leave everything behind to find herself. Her journey takes her to Italy, India and Bali, where she discovers inner peace.
Although I think this movie is a little predictable, I think it’s quite inspiring as well, especially for women travelling solo or for people who’re thinking about quitting their job to travel.
6. Tracks (2013)
Tracks is one of these inspiring movies about nomads that truly amazed me. It’s a film about Robyn Davidson, a brave 27-year old woman who sets out on a solo hike across Australia. With four camels and her pet dog, she treks across the desert, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.
It’s an incredible story about self-discovery and courage. Oh, and best of all is that this movie was based on a true story!
7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a popular travel movie about stepping out of your comfort zone. It tells the story of Walter Mitty, an employee for Life Magazine, who’s been doing the same job for 16 years and lives quite a monotonous life. In order to escape, Walter often daydreams about a world of fantasy where he gets to be the hero.
When his employer sends him on a mission to find the perfect photograph for the magazine’s final issue, though, he gets the chance to go on a real adventure!
This movie might not be about a real nomad, but it sure is one about someone who dreams of being an adventurer!
8. The Bucket List (2007)
Two terminally ill men decide to escape from the hospital to chase their dreams and complete their adventurous bucket list before time runs out. From the Great Pyramid of Giza to Hongkong, they visit some of the world’s most beautiful places on their journey.
The Bucket List brings a beautiful message about living life to the fullest and how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and follow your dreams while you can.
9. The Beach (2000)
While travelling in Bangkok, a young American hears about an inhabited island with a hidden beach in the Gulf of Thailand. He decides to go to this island and convinces a French couple that he met while travelling to join him. However, after finding this mysterious place, things don’t go as he had planned.
It’s been a while since I last saw this movie, and I have to admit that it wasn’t my favourite, but I will definitely give it a second chance!
10. Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
The movie Seven Years in Tibet is the true story of Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer, who sets out to the Himalayas to climb one of the world’s highest peaks. Things don’t go according to plan though, which ultimately leads Heinrich to flee to Tibet, where he befriends the Dalai Lama at the time of China‘s takeover.
Seven Years in Tibet is full of positive life lessons that include the teachings of Buddhism. Although this movie is based on a true story, it’s good to know that it’s not completely historically correct.
11. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
A year after their father’s funeral, three estranged brothers decide to travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other. En route, they’re each dealing with their own problems: Francis is recovering from a motorcycle accident, Peter finds it hard to cope with his wife’s pregnancy, and Jack can’t seem to get over his ex. After a while, it becomes clear that the true reason for their reunion is to visit their mother in an ashram.
The Darjeeling Limited is a movie that will take you on a journey through India. It’s full of bright colours and landscapes that will make you want to travel there.
12. The Cave of the Yellow Dog (2005)
In The Cave of the Yellow Dog, Nansal, the oldest daughter of a nomadic Mongolian family, finds a small dog and brings it home with her. Her father forbids her to keep it, believing it will bring the family bad luck. When it’s time to move on, Nansal decides to hide the dog and bring it with her anyway…
One of the best things about this movie is the wonderful Mongolian landscapes. These will definitely make you want to visit the country!
13. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Thelma & Louise tells the story of two best friends who’re going on a short fishing road trip. When a man tries to rape Thelma in a bar, Louise stabs him and the man dies. Louise then decides to flee to Mexico, and Thelma joins her. On the way, Thelma falls for a young thief, while a friendly detective tries to convince the women to surrender.
Though this may not be one of these typical movies about nomads, Thelma & Louise is an inspirational story about female empowerment, friendship, and freedom.
14. Up in the Air (2009)
Up in the Air is a comedy starring George Clooney. In this movie, he plays Ryan Bingham, who is hired by bosses who don’t have the nerve to fire their employees themselves, so he does it for them. This job requires a lot of travelling around, and as he doesn’t want any attachment, this lifestyle perfectly suits Ryan.
Quite suddenly though, two unexpected things happen that’ll turn his world upside down. The company he works for decides to do layoffs by video conference and Ryan meets a woman who seems to be the female version of him.
Documentaries about (digital) nomads
15. Expedition Happiness (2017)
This documentary was made by a German couple as they travelled from Alaska all the way down to Argentina in a converted school bus with their dog. It was shot in the form of a vlog and named “Expedition Happiness” because they wanted to be happy and give other people happiness as well.
If you’re planning on taking a long road trip yourself (or if you want to convert a van or a bus), this documentary may inspire you.
16. A Map for Saturday (2007)
A Map for Saturday follows Brook Silva Braga on his 11-month backpacking trip around the world. It starts on the moment when Brook quits his job and ends when he returns home. This documentary movie captures all the ups and downs along the way, and does a good job answering the question why we travel.
I saw this movie for the first time a long time ago and I can definitely say that it has inspired me a lot! This movie is actually argued to be the world’s best travel movie, so make sure to add it to your watchlist if you haven’t already.
17. Pedal the World (2015)
Pedal the World is another movie by Felix Starck, who also made Expedition Happiness (#16 on this list). In this film, Felix documents his 18,000-km (11,185 miles) bicycle journey across 22 countries. In search of the meaning of life, he’s on the road for an entire year and cycles through countries like Turkey, North Macedonia, and Serbia.
You will love this movie if you need some motivation to go chase your own adventures!
18. The Meaning of Vanlife (2019)
If you’d like to have a look into the van life community, then watching The Meaning of Vanlife is a great way to get started. This movie about nomads living in a van offers an interesting insight into life on the road. Several people share their stories and reveal what this alternative lifestyle is like and what it means to them.
19. One Way Ticket: A Digital Nomad Documentary
This is a documentary about digital nomads, these people combining work and travel (like I do). It’s full of interviews with famous people who have their own opinion on digital nomadism and it also examines the issues surrounding this type of lifestyle.
Some of the people who are featured in this documentary are Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck), and Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Work Week).
20. The Wireless Generation (2009)
The Wireless Generation is another documentary about people who’re living a location independent lifestyle and work online. It follows 18 people with different jobs, but the one thing they have in common is that they combine work and travel.
If you’re interested in the digital nomad lifestyle, then this documentary is a good way to learn more (and so is #19 on this list)!
21. Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (2019)
This documentary is a tribute to Bruce Chatwin by his long time friend Werner Herzog. Bruce Chatwin was a British travel writer who believed that mankind was meant to live nomadically. He travelled all over the world, long before mass tourism, and wrote about his travels in his books (some of the most famous ones are Patagonia and The Songlines).
Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin is a very personal documentary about Chatwin’s life. Herzog travelled to Patagonia, Wales, and the Outback of Australia to interview Chatwin’s friends for this film.
Movies about nomads – Final thoughts
I hope you found what you were looking for in this post. Feel free to let me know in the comments if something’s missing! I’m keeping an eye on other (or new) movies about nomads and am updating this list regularly.
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Are there movies about nomads missing from this list? Let me know in the comments!