12 Kids’ Movies that Inspire Wanderlust

It turns out that I come by my wanderlust honestly! My family didn’t travel much when I was growing up, but I was secretely being brainwashed by the movies I watched and I couldn’t be more grateful! While some of the movies taught lessons of loving the comfort of home, others encouraged exploration and adventure. For some reason, those wanderlust messages were the ones that stuck. Now, as I watch movies with my kids, I gladly encourage more of the same.

Kids’ Wanderlust Movies from When I Was a Kid

I feel so old when I have to specify, “when I was a kid,” but that’s the way it is and I guess it’s time to embrace it. Luckily, some of these were even from before my time.

Swiss Family Robinson Swiss Family Robinson

A story of a family who gets shipwrecked on an uninhabited, tropical island and has to survive off the land. They encounter wild animals, storms, and pirates. Living in a treehouse and participating in ostrich races, it’s every child dream come true!

“The world is full of nice, ordinary little people who live in nice, ordinary little houses on the ground. But didn’t you ever dream of a house up on a tree top?”- Father Robinson

The Rescuers Down Under The Rescuers Down Under

Two adventurous mice set out to rescue a boy who has been kidnapped from the Australian Outback. Come to find out, the boy was trying to rescue a golden eagle. Fighting crocs, dingos, and villains, and so began my obsession with visiting Australia!

“‘Welcome to Albatross Air: A Fair Fare From Here to There’ You get it? ‘A fair fare.’ It’s- It’s a play on … never mind.”- Wilbur

The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid

A young girl dreams of seeing the world above the surface of the ocean, she disobeyed the order of her father, and goes to a sea witch to help her realize her travel dream. Talk about influencing the path of a little girl’s life! After watching this movie, all I wanted to do was to be part of that (outside) world!

“We’re out to discover!”- Scuttle

The Beauty and the Beast- 1991 & 2017Beauty

Yes, I love them both! A tale of a young woman set on finding freedom and adventure. In turn, offers that very freedom for the life of her father. She finds beauty in unlikely places and people, and more freedom and adventure than she had dreamt.

“I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand, to have someone understand I want so much more than they’ve got planned!”- Belle

Kids’ Wanderlust Movies of Today

Some of the kid movies today are serious trash, but these are some of my kid’s (and my own) favorites. Bonus, they show adventure, acceptance of new people, and exploration of new places. What more could you ask for in kids’ wanderlust movies?

Finding NemoFinding Nemo

A father braves the dangers of the open ocean to find his son. Untrusting of everyone and everything, he reluctantly accepts the help of new friends, to find that there is a great, big world beyond the safe confines of his home on the reef.

“You think I would travel the whole ocean and not know as much as Sandy Plankton? He (sea turtle) was a hundred and fifty, not a hundred.”- Marlin


An old man uses hundreds of helium balloons to fly his house to Paradise Falls, fulfilling his deceased wife’s life-long dream. He discovers new-found bravery and compassion toward a young cub-scout and talking dog. This movie is a great combination of real emotions: sorrow, joy, excitement, and fear. What else is travel really about?

“Adventure is out there!”- Ellie


With the help of an outlaw, a sheltered young woman leaves the safety of her tower, to learn what she’s been missing all her life. What she finds is her past and her future. Teaching independence, bravery, and trust, this movie will inspire any young person to set out into the unknown!

“I can’t believe I did this! I can’t believe I did this! I have to go home! I am never going back! I’m a horrible daughter! BEST DAY EVER!”- Rapunzel


Blu, a rare macaw, travels to Rio de Janeiro to keep his species alive, despite his owner’s discomfort of travel. The two are separated at the height of Carnival and have to rely on the kindness of complete strangers to help them find each other. The music and scenery alone will have your young ones begging to book tickets today!

“This is the coolest place I’ve ever seen! You know, despite the obvious health code violations!”- Blu

Monster in Parismonster

This is one of my favorite kid movies! It’s a story about accepting those who are different from us, even when the mob of society is against us. The music is enchanting and the story gets the moral across in a fun, entertaining way. When you ask my kids where they most want to go, they answer Paris, it might have something to do with this being my favorite.

“The past is past. The future is ours.”– Emile


You know I love this one! The ultimate in kids’ wanderlust movies! A young woman sets sail to convince demi-God, Maui, to help her return the heart of Tefiti, in the process, saving her island and her people. She discovers that she has the strength and the will within herself to do great things, but the help of others is certainly appreciated. Boys and girls will be singing along and dreaming of sailing the ocean to tropical destinations.

“If I go, there’s no telling how far I’ll go!”- Moana

Finding DoriFinding Dori

Not all sequels are created equal, but Finding Dori continues the fun and adventure of Finding Nemo. Dory searches to find her long, lost family. She befriends other sea creatures who have spent their whole lives in captivity, and convinces them to break out of their boxes and experience the world. Sound familiar?

“That’s because the best things happen by chance. Because that’s life. And that’s you being with me out in the ocean, not safe in some stupid glass box.”- Dori

Kubo and the Two StringsKubo

A young boy travels through ancient Japan to bring his parents back to life. With the help of a monkey and an origami samurai that he brought to life, he fights the magic that took his parent from him. This movie is visually stunning and emotionally compelling. Sparking an interest in traveling, as well as, learning about the histories and cultures around the world.

“It’s in my memories! The most powerful kind of magic there is!-” Kubo

There you have it! My top 12 suggestions for kid’s movies that will inspire wanderlust in your kids and yourself.

I know there are so many more. What are your family’s favorites? Do you shamelessly brainwash your family with kids’ wanderlust movies as much as I do? Share your favorites and if there is one of these that you haven’t tried yet, try it soon. I know you won’t be disappointed!

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34 thoughts on “12 Kids’ Movies that Inspire Wanderlust”

  1. Oh my gosh so many of these I remember loving and being inspired to journey outdoors. One of the others I remember is Treasure Planet. I don’t know if people even know what that movie is, but that’s why I started skateboarding as a kid!

  2. I have watched half of the list but still have not yet. I think these are great movies and educational. Mostly importantly these are classic. Even adult like me would love it and enjoy very much.

  3. So many of these movies are on the top of my list! I loved the Little Mermaid as a kid (it was one of my favourite movies), and now as an adult, I even loved taking my little cousins to see Moana! Now they want to visit an island just like where she lives haha 🙂

  4. This was a lovely post. Such a great idea to share the movies that inspire wanderlust, travelling is such a great experience.

  5. The Little MErmaid is by far my favorite from my childhood. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all of these multiple times in my childhood and my in my children’s.

  6. Great list! to be honest I have watched all these listed films. I’m quite surprise to see A Monster in Paris in your list, since it’s a French movie which is not really know in other countries. I loved that movie and even sing along with the music. Kubo is one of my favorites as well (though I’m not a kid anymore) but these films are pretty amazing and kids would learn good lessons out of it.

    1. I love A Monster in Paris!! We have a version in English, except the songs are still in French and I love trying to sing along to them ? I don’t remember how we found it, but I’m glad we did! And I always get emotional watching Kubo, it’s such a good story!

  7. I love watching kids movies, alone and with my kids 🙂 This is such an amazing list, I have seen almost half of these more than twice, Tangled, Moana, The Little Mermaid, to name a few. These do inspire wanderlust.

  8. This is a great topic, I never made the connection between these movies and inspiring wanderlust before! I loved watching the little mermaid as a kid, and I do have memories of wanting to explore the ocean after seeing the movie.

    1. I didn’t realize it until watching them as a mom. I would watch one of these with my kids and feel wanderlust in myself, and I realized what great travel and discovery examples they were! Last time I watched Beauty and the Beast with the kids I got all emotional as Belle sang about wanting more than what people had planned for her. I will always support my kids on whichever road they choose!

  9. These are all some awesome movies! I definitely have the urge to explore and travel after I watch these movies, especially RIO. That’s a favorite in our house, and RIO gets us moving a grooving, and wanting to book a one way ticket to Brazil!

  10. When I was a kid, my mom used to take me on trips all the time! These are ones of my best memories for me and I love her even more for doing that! So yeah..that’s very important!

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