Binge on some exotic adventures while you self-isolate.

By Jamie Carter
March 30, 2020
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We may be stuck at home practicing social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of far-off destinations, adjust our bucket lists, and learn about the world around us. If you want to get some inspiration and information for your next adventure, Netflix has you covered. The online streaming service, which is currently one of the world’s most popular pastimes, is known largely for its movies and TV shows, but it also hosts plenty of landmark travel documentaries and adventure series — and a few have even turned some locations into tourism hot spots.

So, sit back, relax, and indulge in a little armchair travel.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

1. Street Food

If you travel to eat, turn on Street Food, a series of nine 30-minute episodes that explore the local delicacies of Asia — and the stories of the people who make them. There’s the Bangkok chef who’s spent decades making crab omelets and now has a Michelin-star, the hawkers of Singapore and their obsession with (the divine) Hainanese chicken rice, and the snail chefs of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. There are also episodes on the delicacies and oddities of Japan, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, and the Philippines.

2. "Pedal the World"

Millennials wanting something to look forward to should look no further than Felix Starck, a German 20-something who decided to embark on a journey on his bicycle that took him 12,000 miles through 22 countries. Talk about an epic adventure — but there’s more on Netflix than this feature-length documentary from 2015. Also online is Starck’s "Expedition Happiness" from 2017, which tells the story of an incredible road trip across North America in a refurbished school bus.

3. The Kindness Diaries (Season 2) 

Is the world full of good people, or bad people? On a journey from Alaska to Argentina in a Volkswagen Beetle, former broker Leon Logothetis knows it’s the former, and here’s the proof: 13 episodes that explore his attempts to rely on the kindness of strangers for food, shelter, and gas, never accepting money along the way. These are the (30-minute) stories of those who help him on his journey, and their dreams. (Season 1 can be found on Amazon Prime.)

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

4. Dark Tourist

If you’re not familiar with the term, “dark tourism” is defined as “places associated with death and suffering” — not the kind of holiday most of us want to take. Not so for New Zealand journalist David Farrier, who in this eight-part season from 2018 visits some pretty maudlin people and places. There are trips to a voodoo festival in Benin, a haunted forest in Japan, and a swim in a “nuclear lake” in Kazakhstan, plus conversations with South African white supremacists and Charles Manson’s pen pal. In other words, it’s not your usual tourist’s itinerary.

5. Ugly Delicious

What makes the perfect authentic pizza? In each episode of this Netflix original combining travel, cooking, and history, host David Chang and his sidekicks explore one globally famous dish or cuisine after another, exposing the regional differences and discovering what it means to have authentic pizza, tacos, curry, BBQ, and more besides. Spoiler alert: There is no such thing as authentic pizza.

6. "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"

Harrison Ford and Sean Connery’s 1989 hunt for the Holy Grail might not seem like a travel movie at first, but ask yourself this: Had you even heard of Jordan’s archaeological city of Petra before it showed it off to the world? If the magnificent rock-hewn facade of Petra’s Canyon of the Crescent Moon (in reality called Al Khazneh, or “the Treasury”) is the movie’s travel highlight, its prologue also features a young Indy in Arches National Park in Utah.

7. Restaurants on the Edge

Everyone wants to eat at one of the world’s most beautifully situated restaurants, but is a spectacular view enough? This reality show has chef Dennis Prescott, designer Karin Bohn, and restaurateur Nick Liberato visit eateries in amazing locations with fantastic views, but lackluster food. Via Malta, Hong Kong, St. Lucia, Austria, Costa Rica, and Tobermory in Canada, the three do their best to renovate, reinvigorate, and refocus owners who aren’t making the best of what they have.