Nothing like some festive, travel-themed flicks to get you in the holiday spirit.
DXKC75 WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING. Image shot 1995. Exact date unknown.
Credit: © Ronald Grant Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Sometimes during the holidays, when your young cousins are playing (loudly) with their new toys and your aunt won’t stop playing 20 questions, the only option for some peace and quiet is to turn on and tune out. Enter the magic of cinema, which has helped inspire silent family gatherings around the flat screen for decades. Whether you have a family consisting of dozens or a household of just two, there’s bound to come a time this weekend (probably after too many servings of mashed potatoes) where you’ll have the urge to live your White Christmas by way of silver screen. From dark comedies to heartfelt family flicks to feel good rom-coms, we’ve rounded up the best holiday travel movies to dig into this season:

The Polar Express

A heart-warming plot and stunning digital cinematography make this family-friendly film one for the ages. Based on the 1985 picture book by Chris Van Allsburg, the plot follows the adventure of a boy—whose name is never revealed—and his journey to the North Pole via the Polar Express. The cozy interiors of the train and the snowy surroundings make this film thoroughly enjoyable to watch, with bonus points going to Tom Hanks for lending his voice to no less than six different characters. Sit back with a cup of hot chocolate and watch this one when you need a little help getting into the Christmas spirit.

In Bruges

After a job goes terribly wrong, two hit men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are sent to the idyllic Belgian city of Bruges during Christmas to await further orders from their mobster boss (played by Ralph Fiennes). In this black comedy, Farrell and Gleeson shine as two starkly different characters that are constantly at each other’s throats.

Home Alone

What holiday travel movie list would be complete without this classic '90s comedy? Macauley Culkin stars as the adorable Kevin McAllister, a nine-year-old nuisance who is accidentally left behind by his family as they travel to Paris for the holidays. While Kevin is forced to face two burglars at home, his frantic mother races to return to him in time for Christmas. The hectic family atmosphere might feel a little bit too familiar. See also: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, wherein Kevin explores the best of the Big Apple around Christmas.

The Holiday

If you’re looking to cozy up in front of the fireplace and get lost in some seriously picturesque scenery, The Holiday should be on your watch list. This 2006 rom-com, which stars Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, tells the tale of two women, both reeling from recent heartbreaks, looking to escape over the holidays. The pair winds up swapping homes, landing Diaz in the English countryside and Winslet in Los Angeles, where romantic encounters (with Jude Law and Jack Black) ensue.

Love Actually

A modern Christmas classic, this British rom-com tells nine distinct love stories, most of which intertwine by the film’s end, culminating at Heathrow Airport. The film is notable for it’s ensemble cast (featuring the likes of Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, and Emma Thompson, to name a few) and Bill Nighy’s hysterical rendition of the Pogues’ ‘Love is All Around,’ which will have you humming the tune for at least a week.

While You Were Sleeping

On Christmas, lonely train ticket seller Lucy (Sandra Bullock) witnesses the commuter she’s fallen in love with being mugged. He's unconcious by the time she brings him to the hospital, where she’s mistaken as his fiancée. The man’s family subsequently accepts her into the family, though over time she develops feelings for his brother. It's set in a festive, snowy Chicago and boasts a satisfyingly sappy ending.


One of Santa’s elves travels from the North Pole to New York City in this comedy starring Will Ferrell. Buddy the Elf, a human who was inadvertently taken from an orphanage by Santa as a baby, leaves his beloved home on a quest to find his real father. Ferrell’s performance as a 6’3” elf makes this campy movie well worth the watch.