10 of the best travel shows

There’s nothing like a good TV series to get you hooked. When it’s showcasing the fantastic world of travel – even better! If you’re like us and you’ve found yourself spending more time in your home than you normally would, then don’t panic. There is a whole world of programs out there ready to fill you with wanderlust and inspiration. Whether you want to educate yourself on the fascinating history of countries around the world, learn about the habits of creatures from far and wide or simply enjoy breathtaking scenery from the comfort of your own sofa, the magical world of television is there just waiting to transport you across the globe. We have rounded up 10 of the best travel shows that will leave you excited to book that next trip!  

Joanna Lumley’s Travel Series

Joanna Lumley’s calm and curious nature that’s portrayed on her series of travel documentaries is a far cry from her days of Absolutely Fabulous. The actress and presenter is known for her charity work and activism around the globe and her popular travel shows offer a fantastic insight into some unique locations. Notable ones are the Trans-Siberian Adventure, Japan, India, Silk Road Adventure and most recently; the Hidden Caribbean.   

Each show dives into the culture and traditions of the destination. Meeting with local individuals and highlighting the unique aspects of each country is centre to the show. Joanna meets geisha’s in Japan, who educate her on the true goings-on behind the make-up. She travels 6,400 miles using the Trans-Siberian Railway witnessing stunning scenery along the way. In her latest travels, she goes off the beaten track in the Caribbean as she uncovers the best of Haiti and Cuba. Each episode offers a fantastic taste of the destination and offers great insight into what the world has to offer. A must for any keen travel enthusiast!    

Geisha's in Kyoto Japan
Geisha’s in Kyoto Japan

An Idiot Abroad

Karl Pilkington stars in this tongue in cheek series that sends him to iconic destinations around the world. Seemingly unimpressed by everything, Karl is challenged to visit popular tourist sites, try unique food and embrace what he deems to be strange cultures from around the world. The series was created by Stephen Merchant and Ricky Jervais who sit back and relax from the UK while they send Karl on crazy adventures to get him out of his comfort zone. The ongoing theme being that he has no interest in travelling or viewing popular attractions. It’s typically British humour, and Karl’s sarcastic comments do make you think twice about whether certain places are worth the hype. Between showcasing interesting locations and adding a non-conventional script the show is a light-hearted and entertaining watch.   

The Great Wall of China - one of the destinations in An Idiot Abroad
The Great Wall of China – one of the destinations in An Idiot Abroad

Dark Tourist

Dark Tourist follows journalist David Farrier as he explores the darker side of many destinations that have now become tourist hotspots. The eight part series sees him explore the legacy of Pablo Escobar in Medellin, where he meets the notorious figures former hit-man, before moving onto Mexico City where he takes part in a mock illegal border crossing. He learns about the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and investigates life in townships in South Africa. The show is bursting with interesting information and eye-opening stories. Yet as the title suggests, dark facts about traditions and history around the world.  

Medellin - Colombia
Medellin – Colombia

Long way Round

Long way round follows Euan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they journey across the world on motorbikes. The journey takes them from London to New York via Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia, Canada and the US. The 19,000 mile adventure follows the highs and the lows of navigating unknown territory, witnessing spectacular landscapes and meeting unique communities around the world. Expect accidents, breakdowns, bribes as well as comedic scenes throughout as these two characters embark on the most epic adventure of their lives. If you enjoy the first series, then check out the two followups. Long way down sees the pair take their journey from Scotland down to Cape Town. The newest one, Long way up has them travelling from Ushuaia to Los Angeles.

Riding through Canada
Riding through Canada

Top Gear Specials

Love them or hate them, the trio of the original Top Gear have brought us on some fantastic motor adventures around the globe. Follow the mishaps of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond as they navigate countries such as Botswana, Bolivia, Vietnam, India and the Middle East. While the challenges and storylines are quite predictably scripted, the specials showcase these countries in a fantastic light. They also offer a glimpse into some of the best landscapes in the world.

Expect train mishaps in India to cruising along one of the most beautiful roads in Vietnam. Battling the vast landscape of Botswana and possibly the most terrifying, taking on Death Road in Bolivia.       

Death Road in Bolivia
Death Road in Bolivia

Jack Whitehall Travels with his Father

Jack Whitehall is a British comedian who decided to embark on the gap year he never got to take. He brings along his very conservative and seemingly hard to please father, Michael. Each episode sees them arrive at a new location where they seek out cultural and unique experiences, often to the bewilderment or amusement of the other. The episodes are a nice balance of comedy and education. The show does seek to inform the viewer on the history and major events of the country while keeping the script up-beat and joyous.   

The first series of the show sees them journey through Southeast Asia, discovering Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The characterful pair meet monks in Cambodia, sea kayak in Thailand and try street-food in Vietnam. The second series follows their journey through Eastern Europe, as they visit Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and Turkey. While some scenes are clearly scripted for pure entertainment, the show is light-hearted and funny. It also shows off some fantastic destinations from around the world.  

The Bamboo Railway in Cambodia
The Bamboo Railway in Cambodia

Tales by Light

Tales by Light is a creative’s dream travel show. It showcases a variety of inspirational and moving scenes from around the world. The series is a collaborative effort of National Geographic and Cannon, and follows six Australian photographers as they travel the globe searching for unique shots and stories that have never been captured before. The concept of the show is to tell the story behind the camera. It highlights the determination and hard work it takes to capture powerful images in the natural world. Each episode focuses on one of the photographers and their plight for the perfect image. whether it be wildlife, marine or landscape, to name a few.

The series has a wonderful way of bringing you along for the journey. The photographers explain the image they want to create, how they plan to do it and finally show you the lengths they are willing to take to make it happen. The beautiful scenery and moving stories are both inspirational and a wonderful reminder of the beauty found in the world.   

The Himalayas - one of the destinations featured in Tales by Light
The Himalayas – one of the destinations featured in Tales by Light

Our Planet

Our Planet is a series starring conservationist David Attenborough and offers some of the best cinematography in recent years, giving us a real glimpse of the lives of planet earth’s creatures. Follow animals from the frozen shores to the jungle, African plains to the deep ocean and learn about their behaviour like we never have before. With a huge focus on the effects climate change has on these species, the viewing is both educational and heart-breaking at the same time. The crew capture what no one has managed before. High definition camera equipment shows animal behaviour that was never thought possible in the past. The real life stories conjure up all sorts of emotions, from screaming at the TV as you watch an iguana run for its life to holding back tears at young, lost penguins.      

Of course you can always start with the original series showcasing our natural world – Planet Earth. Released back in 2006, it was the first nature piece to be filmed in high definition and immediately propelled the nation into the magical world of the animal kingdom. Most definitely one of the 10 best travel shows.  

Penguins are one of the many animals featured in Our Planet
Penguins are one of the many animals featured in Our Planet

Simon Reeve around the world

Simon Reeve is a British author and presenter who is known for his travel documentaries from around the world. The series explores everything from the Tropic of Cancer to the Indian Ocean and various exciting destinations in between. Reeve exudes the kind of enthusiasm that makes you want to follow in his adventurous footsteps as he brings us to various fascinating locations – including Greece, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Myanmar, the Americas and most recently, the Balkans. With such variety, these have to be in 10 of the best travel shows.  

The Acropolis in Athens
The Acropolis in Athens

Street Food Asia

If you like to eat your way around a destination – this ones for you! Street Food Asia visits 9 of the most vibrant cities in Asia delving into their culinary scenes. Hear the stories of the people behind the dishes and be inspired to create your own delicious recipes from your own kitchen!

Vietnamese Food Market
Vietnamese Food Market

Thanks for reading our blog on 10 of the best travel shows. Have you come across an exciting travel show? Tell us in the comments! Visit Tucan Travel’s website here for further inspiration on all things travel. 

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  1. That was a great read, however brief, and I find i watch shows and films more for the scenery than plot. The older films on “Talking Pictures ” are interesting when looking at a city that I have visited but filmed 70 or so years ago. Been on several of your tours……can’t fault them.

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