The Best Netflix Documentaries to Cure Wanderlust

You may not be able to travel every night, but you might be able to settle in for an hour of Netflix. And for those with severe wanderlust, the country’s most popular streaming service can provide some vicarious adventures to hold you over until your next trip.

In the mood to binge? If you’re into travel, you want to see the world from a new perspective and Netflix has plenty of goodies for you to enjoy. Here are some of our favorites:

Mile… Mile & a Half

A group of hikers decides to take on John Muir Trail, which spans 211 miles along Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Mount Whitney, and bask in every moment of the journey. Anyone who loves hiking will appreciate the filmmakers’ endeavor and the joy they had doing it. Not to spoil the ending, but the lasting message is a beautiful sentiment: You don’t need to seek out Mount Everest or the Himalayas to find a rewarding adventure. You can find one in your own backyard.

The Layover/Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Anthony Bourdain lives an amazing life: He goes where he wants, eats what he wants and says what he wants. The man has no limits. But his shows are rich with insight beyond just the eats. Most of his travels take him deep inside the hidden cultures of America’s biggest cities, while other episodes explore the eccentricities abroad.


This moving documentary tackles the county’s mustang population issue, interspersed with an epic 3,000-mile journey. Four men, fresh out of college, decide to take 16 mustangs up from Mexico to Canada along the American West. The visuals are stunning and the resolve from these modern-day cowboys makes them easy to root for. When you can mix traveling with good storytelling, the results are stunning.

National Geographic Documentaries

Stream a number of National Geographic’s exemplary shows and films, ranging from vicious animals to conspiracy theories to wilderness survival. It’s all a matter of taste, but I enjoy anything dealing with Australia, such as the “72 Dangerous Animals: Australia.” “The Long Way Down,” a motorcycle series with Ewan McGregor, is a great ride.

Human Planet

Animal documentaries are cute and fascinating, but wait until you see what humans are capable of. This series covers people who live in environments in which you didn’t know we could survive. For instance, one episode features a culture that thrives in the Arctic while another covers those who spend every day scavenging for water in the desert. Like the “breathtaking” video above, these are some truly inspiring documentaries that exemplify human resilience.

Planet Earth/The Blue Planet/Frozen Planet

I remember years ago when I bought “Planet Earth” on DVD, thinking it was the greatest nature documentary I had ever seen. I stand by that. Much of the footage defies description and this documentary might be the only time some of these sights will ever be captured. The series  has been around for a while now (10 years?!), but even if you have already seen them, they are worth another look.

If you don’t have time for a vacation anytime soon, you can still do some traveling without even leaving your house. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more have plenty to choose from!

Share your favorite travel shows or movies to stream in the comments below.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.