Top 8 Movies and Documentaries to Cure Your Cabin Fever


Stuck at home for the 4th (or would it be the 5th) week in a row? Feeling bummed that you can’t answer the siren call of new adventures and locales still yet to be discovered? Beginning to develop the stirrings of cabin fever? Believe me, you’re not alone! But how can we cope with our wanderlust and yearning for adventure when we’re confined to the four walls of our living rooms? Through the wonderful world of streaming, of course!

Movies offer us a mental, if not physical, escape from our current circumstances. They allow us the chance to live vicariously through the protagonists on our screens and see the world through their eyes. Here is a list of the top 8 movies and documentaries that I use to cope with my own cabin fever and fuel my dreams of future adventures. Hopefully, they can help you find adventure too!

1. National Parks Adventure (2016)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Content Type: Documentary

This is a great, 40-minute-long documentary that is full of sweeping shots, giving audiences a taste of all the beauty and grandness of our national parks. It follows three adventurers as they hike, run, scale, traverse, and even ice-climb their way around different parks including Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Canyonlands. This documentary has an amazing soundtrack and is narrated by the great Robert Redford!

2. The Dawn Wall (2017)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Content Type: Documentary

This documentary follows two climbers who set out to do the impossible- free climb the 3,000 foot Dawn Wall of El Capitan. I have done some casual climbing myself in the past, but even my stomach was clenched tight throughout the entire film. Tommy, the protagonist, overcame some pretty crazy things leading up to this historic climb. From being kidnapped with his girlfriend by Islamic rebels during a climbing trip in Kyrgyzstan, to re-learning how to climb after losing his left index finger in a construction accident, his story will blow your mind. Watching these two men and their sheer, single-minded determination to accomplish what no one else has done before will leave you speechless!

3. Expedition Happiness (2017)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Content Type: Documentary

“Two free spirits, one dog. Traveling the vast spaces of an enormous continent in search of something more.” From the title and tagline, this documentary might sound pretentious and hipster-y… and, well, it kind-of is.The story follows a filmmaker and his musician girlfriend as they fly from Europe to the U.S. to refurbish an old school bus and take it on a giant road trip from the east coast of Canada to the west coast, up to Alaska, and back down south through the U.S. to end in Mexico. To be honest, there were a few corny parts that made me roll my eyes and scoff. However, there’s also amazing cinematography, the scenery is breathtaking, and watching the struggles that come with road tripping full time (especially with a dog) is all really interesting. This documentary will definitely leave you dreaming of your next road trip!

4. Human (2015)

Where to Watch: YouTube (click here)

Content Type: Documentary

During my time living and working abroad in China, I taught a summer course to middle school students about the United Nations. Every week, we would end with a documentary. I struggled with finding a good video that tied everything together for the final week of class. Eventually, I discovered this film, and I think everybody should watch. It’s a beautiful documentary directed by French filmmaker, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, filmed over the course of 2 years. He interviews and gathers testimonies from over 2,000 men and women from 60 different countries with their views on life, love, loss, joy, grief, and overall, what it means to be human. He captures the human condition so honestly while intertwining the video interviews with breathtaking and awe-inspiring landscape shots that will remind you that the world is still a beautiful place that deserves to be revered and protected.

5. The Way (2010)

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon Prime for $3.99

Content Type: Movie

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, drug use, and smoking.

What can I say, I love this movie! I could watch it a dozen times and not get tired of it (I probably have, actually.) This movie is directed by Emilio Estevez, who plays the protagonist's son, and stars Martin Sheen as his father. Sheen plays a man who recently learned his son (Estevez) had died during an 800 km trek along El Camino De Santiago in Spain. When he goes to retrieve his son’s body, he decides to cremate and spread his son’s ashes along the path as he sets out to finish the journey his son started. It’s a moving story about loss, grief, and the strong bonds that can be forged through the shared experience of travel.

6. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon Prime for $3.99

Content Type: Movie

Rated PG for some crude comments, language, and action violence.

This is hands down my favorite travel movie. The cinematography is exceptional and the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard! This movie illustrates escapism in its truest form. It stars Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty, a man who always plays it safe and is too busy living in the daydreams in his mind to go after the life he truly wants. This all changes when his career and love life are on the line! He sets out on an adventure to find an elusive travel photographer (played by Sean Penn) and ends up finding himself along the way. This movie will inspire you to set out and make your own travel dreams a reality!

7. 127 Hours (2010)

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon Prime for $3.99

Content Type: Movie

Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images.

This film is a modern classic, in my opinion. It retells the true survival story of Aaron Ralston, an outdoor adventure enthusiast whose arm gets trapped between an 800 pound boulder and a canyon wall leaving him stranded in the canyon alone. This movie includes sweeping shots of Blue John Canyon and the Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The cinematography truly shows the magnitude of the landscape and offers a sense of foreboding as Ralston and the viewers realize how isolated he is in that vast canyon. This movie will make you want to take a trip to Utah and visit the canyons yourself (and hopefully teach you the importance of the buddy system!) (*Caution* This film is rated "R." Please make sure to have a parent's permission if you are not of age.)

8. Tracks (2013)

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Content Type: Movie

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language

I feel that this list needed at least one female-lead film, and I actually just discovered this one a few days ago as I was doing research for this article! The movie follows the true story of Robyn Davidson, a woman who set out to trek 2,000 km across the Australian desert to the Indian Ocean with just four camels and her dog. If you liked films like Wild and Into the Wild, you would like this one. What sets this movie apart from others like it is that, to me, the character seems more real and relatable. She’s not adventuring to prove a point or to escape a world that she feels has wronged her, she just wants to explore because she can. Mia Wasikowska is exceptional in this movie, as always. She portrays Davidson with grit and subtlety, and you can’t help but root for her.

How many of these have you seen? Do you have some great adventure films we should add? Comment below and tell us some of your favorites!

We hope you enjoyed exploring these films from the comfort of your home. Until next time, stay safe!

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