Wanderlust Stricken, but Stuck at Home? The 10 Best Travel Shows to Watch Now

Oh, to be stricken with wanderlust yet stuck at home because a certain pandemic has taken the entire planet hostage. What's one to do? The answer: binge on travel TV shows! In fact, travel TV has never been better or more widely available. Or accessible. Thanks to streaming services, we can virtually send ourselves to nearly any and every part of the planet in just a few clicks.

So, if you're aching to pack your bags and hop on a plane but you're instead stuck at home, here's what to watch.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

After Anthony Bourdain tragically died, there was a bit of a scramble to fill the void. Gordon Ramsay has given it a shot recently, to dismal results. The sad reality is that Bourdain can't be replaced. Chef David Chang of Momofuku restaurants is another contender. He does an admirable job on his two food-inspired travel shows on Netflix. This one, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, has Chang globetrotting around the planet with a different celebrity in tow for each episode. Think Kate McKinnon in Cambodia, Chrissy Teigen in Morocco, you get the idea. For most shows, the pairing of the celebrity and the destination makes no logical sense, which is something of a headscratcher. Do we care what Kate McKinnon thinks of Cambodia, even though she's never been there and knows little about the place? The only one that pairs well is Seth Rogen in his hometown Vancouver. All that said, it's a very watchable show, nonetheless.

Conan Without Borders

Conan O'Brien should have a second career as a travel TV show host. This Netflix series was born out of the many field pieces O'Brien has done around the globe. And every episode is a hilarious escape via Conan's goofball antics. The late-night show host goes to Armenia, Cuba, Haiti, Korea, Mexico, Israel, and Italy. In the latter episode, Conan brings one of his producers, the persnickety, meticulous, and Italy-obsessed Jordan Schlansky with him to act as a comic foil. And it works wonderfully. Since Conan has since done field pieces in Berlin, Greenland, Ghana, Japan, and Australia, let's hope there will be a second season.

Gaycation With Ellen Page

This is one of those shows that you stop and think: I can't believe no one else has done a show like this yet. Perhaps because the political atmosphere in the United States and elsewhere wasn't right for such a show. It is now. And actress Ellen Page does a wonderful job as travel TV show host, as she brings her good friend Ian Daniel along for the ride. The show spins the globe as Page and Daniel explore LGBTQ culture around the world.

Globe Trekker

Originally a Lonely Planet production, Globe Trekker has turned a generation or two from coach potato to world traveler. Over 17 seasons starting in 1994, the show has covered the entire planet using a gaggle of quasi-permanent hosts whose style is to look at the camera and address the viewer as if an old friend were advising us on what we should do in certain destinations. For many who grew up watching Globe Trekker, rotating hosts Ian Wright, Megan McCormick, and Justine Shapiro felt like our travel buddies. Longtime viewers may also recognize hosts Bradley Cooper and Padma Lakshmi, before they were famous, from the show.

Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father

A show about someone traveling with their father doesn't sound too promising. But then again, not all father-son duos are Jack Whitehhall and Michael Whitehall. The younger Whitehall is a comedian and his father is an agent and TV producer. The elder Whitehall is also quite the curmudgeon. So, his class-clown of a son taking him on a tour through Southeast Asia, as they do in Season 1, creates enough hilarious high jinks to make this show a sleeper hit of travel TV.

Somebody Feed Phil

You'd be excused if you'd never heard of Phil Rosenthal before. He had been a longtime producer on the show Everybody Loves Raymond. It turns out his calling might be in travel TV. Combining the global craze for all things food as well as the planetary passion for travel, Somebody Feed Phil takes viewers around the globe as Rosenthal eats his way through various cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Mexico City, Bangkok, Dublin, and New York City. The third season is currently in production.

Street Food

The simply named Street Food is not so simple at all. The Netflix show keeps its gaze on Asia, taking a deep dive in each episode on one city at a time. Show takes you through the bustling food markets and street stalls of Seoul, Singapore, Delhi, Bangkok, Osaka, Japan, and other Asian metropolises. Warning: it might make you very hungry.

Restaurants on the Edge

Netflix's latest food/travel TV show is a hybrid of sorts. Imagine Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares marrying Chef's Table and then both of them ending up in a throuple with Queer Eye. The result would be something like this show in which a chef, a restaurateur, and an interior designer turn up at a struggling restaurant that happens to have an amazing view (read: possible tourist trap) and try to set it straight, doing a complete makeover. The first season recently dropped on Netflix and we hear whispers a second season may be coming. Read our Q&A with the team behind Restaurants on the Edge.

Rick Steves' Europe

Like Globe Trekker, Rick Steves' is personally responsible for giving a generation or two a lifelong case of wanderlust. Steves feels like your nerdy next-door neighbor who happens to have a serious passion for travel. He's whip smart, has deep knowledge of European history, and is difficult to dislike. More importantly, Steves' show is something of a subtle political act: He's made a lot of travel-wary Americans curious and comfortable about traveling abroad when they normally might not have done so. Thus, hopefully broadening minds and withering fear about the rest of the world outside of America's borders.

Ugly Delicious

The better of chef David Chang's two Netflix shows, Ugly Delicious' two seasons are worth bingeing. Instead of focusing on just one destination per episode, like most travel-esque shows, Chang takes on one food theme at a time. While exploring Viet-Cajun cuisine, for example, Chang is hanging out in the kitchens with chefs in Houston and New Orleans. In the episode on curry, he floats around India with Aziz Ansari and cooks with Padma Lakshmi in her New York apartment. Ugly Delicious will make you hungry and yearn to travel but it will also deepen your knowledge of food and its origins and culture.

Wanderlust Stricken, but Stuck at Home? The 10 Best Travel Shows to Watch Now | Culture