12 Best Summer Movies to Watch for Travel Inspiration

12 Best Summer Movies to Watch for Travel Inspiration

These flicks are almost as good as a real summer vacay!

Many things have changed drastically this 2020 — especially with travel bans and social distancing regulations all around the world. And summer is clearly no exception! What used to be a much-awaited season for travellers everywhere is now filled with uncertainty. So, while we wait and observe how things will turn out, we’ve compiled a list of movies to watch that remind us of the summers past! 

Some of these will take you to sun-soaked destinations, while some are a throwback to the wonderful summers of youth. You know, when life was easy and pretty much anything was possible? Nothing wrong with a bit of holiday dreaming, we say! That said, here are our recommended movies to watch this season (whether or not it’s summer where you are now). 

1. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

Image credit: IMDb

Based on the bestselling YA novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants centres on a group of four young girls: Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget. It all began when these friends stumbled upon a pair of jeans that surprisingly fit each of them perfectly. And so throughout the summer, they take their turns keeping the magical jeans — or the Traveling Pants, as they called it! This too was also their way of staying in touch with one another’s holiday adventures (and romances) in different cities.

2. The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)

Image credit: IMDb

Anyone who was a tween or teen in the early ‘00s would surely remember The Lizzie McGuire Movie! After all, it served as the finale of the hit Disney Channel series of the same title. Imagine going on a post-graduation trip with your classmates to Rome — pretty cool, right? But what’s even cooler is getting mistaken for an Italian pop icon (who looks exactly like you!) and becoming an overnight celeb. 

Watch as the awkward Lizzie (played by Hilary Duff) takes a leap of faith and discovers what dreams are truly made of. (Don’t even get us started on that ever-catchy song). And of course, it won’t be a Lizzie adventure without her sarcastic animated alter ego hilariously reflecting her internal monologues! 

3. Camp Rock (2008)

Image credit: IMDb

Here, we have another iconic flick by Disney Channel! This time, it’s from the late ‘00s — A.K.A. the era of teen stars like the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. In the fictional, prestigious Camp Rock, the campers aren’t just aspiring musicians — they’re also rising celebrities and/or kids of prominent figures in the industry. That is, except for Mitchie Torres (played by Lovato), who was only able to go because of her mother’s catering service. 

And so begins her pretending in order to fit in with the cool kids. Along the way, she catches the attention of angsty pop idol Shane Gray (Joe Jonas), who was forced to be a camp counsellor to rehabilitate his diva image! What ensues is a story of not only pursuing your passion, but also staying true to yourself no matter what.  

4. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Image credit: IMDb

Call Me By Your Name is one of the best summer movies to watch if you want a coming-of-age plot that’s beyond the usual teeny-boppers. It takes place in 1983 in Lombardy, Italy — where teenager Elio Perlman (played by Timothée Chalamet) is staying with his family at their holiday villa. And this villa itself is also quite the scene-stealer, with its lush peach orchard, grotto pools, and well-worn 17th-century architecture. 

Then comes Oliver (Armie Hammer), a grad student working as a research assistant for Elio’s archaeologist father. Within the following weeks, Elio discovers a lot of things about himself, as he deals with both the pains and joys of first love. Set against multiple backdrops of the idyllic Italian countryside, Elio and Oliver’s romantic tale is equal-parts captivating and poignant. 

5. Mamma Mia! (2008)

Image credit: IMDb

Sing your heart out to this jukebox musical rom-com that takes place in a stunning island in Greece. Hilarity ensues when would-be bride Sophie Sheridan (played by Amanda Seyfried) invites all three of her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) ex-lovers. One of the three men is Sophie’s father, and though she isn’t sure which exactly, she hopes to find out by getting to know them well before her wedding day! In between, the characters sing a lot of ABBA songs that make for some ‘70s nostalgia, too. 

6. Before Sunrise (1995)

Image credit: Castle Rock Entertainment

Before Sunrise is one of the best summer movies to watch — no doubt about that. It sets the bar quite high for plots that involve a meet-cute while travelling in a foreign land. Case in point: when Céline (Julie Delphy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) met in a train, it was chemistry at first encounter. And as Jesse is about to embark to Vienna, he invites Céline to go with him. She agrees on a whim because, hey, life’s too short for what-ifs! 

The star-crossed pair explored Vienna, while making the most out of Jesse’s remaining hours in Europe before his flight back home. More than just a philosophical romantic film, Before Sunrise is also a visual love letter to this marvellous city! And you’ll definitely notice this in many scenes, wherein Vienna is treated as a third main character of sorts. 

7. Monte Carlo (2011)

Image credit: IMDb

As if a summer trip to Paris wasn’t already exciting enough, imagine getting whisked away to the French Riviera. Although, if it was done through a case of mistaken identity, then it probably wouldn’t be much of a relaxing vacay. Just ask Grace Bennett (played by Selena Gomez)! 

In an attempt to save their botched plans, she and her friends take the opportunity to go to glitzy Monte Carlo. The catch? Grace has to pretend to be a spoiled British heiress who looks exactly like her. That said, expect to meet some cute aristocrats along the way!

8. Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005)

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

While nothing beats the first instalment, this sequel still deserves a spot on your must-watch summer movies list! And yep, the Baker family is back with more hilarious (and oftentimes crazy) antics in their arsenal. This one is set two years after the first one, with most of the Baker kids now grown up — much to the anxiety of the dad Tom (played by Steve Martin). 

This prompts him to take the family on a good ol’ summer trip to the fictional Lake Winnetka. But not everything goes as planned, especially when Tom finds out that his old rival Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy) is also there on a family vacation. And clearly, they’re nowhere near over their decades-old issues yet!

9. Post Grad (2009)

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Anyone who has ever been a fresh grad would be able to relate to the woes of Ryden Malby (played by Alexis Bledel). Imagine graduating amidst the tumultuous late-2000s recession — rather scary, isn’t it? Add in the fact that your college nemesis got your dream job, and you pretty much have the worst post-college fate ever. Or at least, that’s how it feels for Ryden! 

Post Grad is one of the best summer movies to watch when you feel like summer just isn’t as thrilling as it is when you were younger! Let’s be real — responsibilities don’t go away now just because temperatures are rising and the sun is out longer. 

10. The Last Summer (2019)

Image credit: Netflix

While the previous item is set during the summer after college graduation, this one takes place in the summer before college! (Though, the title paired with the poster was probably a dead giveaway, too). The Last Summer centres on an interconnected group of Chicago teens trying to figure out where they want to go post-high school. 

There’s the mildly average student who got rejected or waitlisted from all her college options, the artist working on a film festival entry to help fund her tuition — and the list goes on. Sure, this Netflix Original tends to be dramatic at times, with lines like, “this is our last summer before adulthood” (geez, chill out, bro). Nonetheless, it’s a feel-good movie that transports you back to your young and carefree days! 

Also read: 15 Best Feel-Good Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now

11. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Image credit: IMDb

Disclaimer: Midnight in Paris is not your typical sunny flick — in fact, for most parts, it’s either rainy, cloudy, or nighttime. It’s also a far cry from your usual summer movies; instead of a beach or countryside setting, it takes you to two kinds of Paris: the modern-day one and the Jazz Age! 

When writer Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) goes on a trip to Paris with his fiancée, he couldn’t be more excited! Not only is he enthralled by the place itself but also its rich history — specifically, Paris in the 1920s. So, when he stumbles upon a time-travel opportunity, it was a much-needed escape from his unsatisfying present. And along the way, he also meets some of his idols like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. 

12. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Image credit: IMDb

How about a summer film that’s on the darker side? Not literally, though, since most of it takes place in the sun-drenched Italian coast! One of the best thrillers of all time, The Talented Mr. Ripley takes you on a yacht ride amongst 1950s jet-setters that epitomise the phrase, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” (Their stylish holiday OOTDs are a bonus!)

The unassuming Tom Ripley (played by Matt Damon) is tasked to persuade the spoiled Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) to return home. It’s the deal of a lifetime, all right! While Ripley and Dickie become fast friends, things take a turn for the worse as Ripley gets too involved with Dickie’s luxurious yet chaotic life. 

Also read: Now Showing: Must-Watch Travel Movies That Spark Wanderlust

Thank goodness for movies through which we can travel vicariously. In these uncertain times when we don’t know when it’ll be safe to travel again, these are the next best thing. The captivating stories are a major plus, too! 

So, which of these summer movies are you excited to watch next? Or better yet, are your favourites in this list? Let us know all about it!

Featured and Facebook images are credited to IMDb.

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.


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