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Have You Ever Been Inspired To Travel Somewhere Because Of A Book Or Movie?

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s much-loved novel of sisterhood, sprawling manor houses, and gossipy rich people turned 200 last week! In celebration of this literary birthday, tourists have been flocking to Austen landmarks, like the town of Bath.

Like most Austen-ites, I love Lizzie and Mr. Darcy (and I even have a place in my heart for boring Bingley and goody-two-shoes, Jane). Hey, who wouldn’t love a story about a smart, sassy heroine who likes to read and has no patience for mean girls or stuck-up dudes? When I first read Pride and Prejudice, I dreamed of strolling through the genteel English countryside and visiting grand old houses, of sipping tea and attending fancy dress balls. And seeing the miniseries/movies based on the book only solidified those desires.

That book was one of the reasons I chose to study abroad in London.

I’m not ashamed to admit that as soon as I could travel on my own, I chose my destinations largely according to literary and cinematic inspiration. Grimm’s fairytale castles in the Black Forest? Check. The Sound of Music bus tour in Salzberg? Definitely check. Salem, Massachusetts to do a little sightseeing a la The Crucible? You’d better believe it. My most recent trip, to Colorado, was inspired by several things: The Shining, every Western I’ve ever seen, and ski movies. I figured ONE of those things was bound to be right on the money.

Travel based on books is nothing new. Literary works have always inspired travel, ever since the first person got off at the Baker Street Tube stop looking for Sherlock Holmes. Maybe literary tourism is so appealing because we connect so deeply with our favorite literary creations, because we feel we know them. Seeing where their lives are set brings them to life in a way we never could in our minds, sitting on our couch and devouring the words that form and shape them.

So, say you’ve been hit with a light bulb inspirational moment and have decided to set off in search of your favorite fictional setting. What happens when you get there? Are you disappointed if/when it’s not exactly like you thought? Travel expectations aren’t just limited to literary travel, but it’s a special brand of disappointment to realize that the place you’d imagined for so long isn’t exactly as you’d pictured it. Any time you see a gorgeous photo of a hotel, for example, and arrive to find that its “convenient location” description translates to “adjacent to a highway off-ramp” you’re faced with how to manage dashed hopes.

The best advice I can give you is, to shrug your shoulders and embrace the surprises. As long as it’s not sketchy or unsafe, then I say, roll with it. You’ll always have the book or movie, and now you’ll have your own (hopefully funny) story to tell about “the real” wherever.

So, you may ask, what’s inspiring me now? I’ve been to Italy but I want to go back and explore the Under the Tuscan Sun countryside. I’ve also been wanting to get all Blue Lagoon on a Caribbean island for a while now. And of course, I’ve wanted to go to California ever since I saw Elliott’s kick-ass neighborhood in E.T. (a far cry from my suburban Pennsylvania neighborhood, growing up).

What literary or cinematic settings inspire you to travel?

Let’s tweet about all things travel (and hot chocolate) related, @StephSpitler

Featured image via ShutterStock

  • Paula Boardman

    In my recent holiday to the UK, I made sure that I spent a couple of days in Cardiff – which of course is the home of all things Doctor Who and Torchwood. I also visited Barry Island while I was in Cardiff, which is where one of my favourite shows, Gavin and Stacey, was filmed. (I may have also visited the houses used in the show…)

    I was also VERY excited that Kensington Palace had just reopened as I adore “The Young Victoria” – they have a whole wing dedicated to Victoria & Albert’a love story!!

    Plus, they were filming “Skyfall” while I was in London and I was there for some of the filming. Kind of a reverse location visit :) It made for a fun viewing of the movie!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I LOVE Gavin and Stacey :-)

    • Lisa-Marie Borras

      I went to Cardiff last year for my birthday, we went to the new Doctor Who Experience that has a map of locations in and around Cardiff that have been used for filming and whilst we were there we went to Barry Island toooo!! You can do a tour of Gavin and Stacey locations, Stacey’s house etc! I also have been to one on the Coffee shops that JK Rowling wrote in in Edinburgh! Next on the list is the Harry Potter Studio Tour! :)

      • Paula Boardman

        The DW Experience would be amazing! The London one closed just before I arrived, and the Cardiff one opened after I left. I didn’t take a Gavin & Stacey tour, but thanks to the internet (and a lovely cab driver!), I managed to find all of the locations. It was weird realising that Gavin’s house isn’t actually in Essex :)

  • Meg White

    I’d love to go to Scotland & see places described in Outlander :) Fields of heather…crags…seeing redheaded Scotsmen 😉

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I’d love to see the countryside of Scotland, too. I’ve only been to Edinburgh, but everything I’ve seen (movies, pictures) looks gorgeous!

      • Meg White

        I highly recommend Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Historical tour of Scotland & the many clans. Trust me…you’ll be hooked.

        • Stephanie Spitler

          I’ve heard lots of good things about it; I’ll put it on my reading list!

    • Courtney Michelle Schultz

      Throw in a kilted Jamie Fraser, and I’m there!

      • Meg White


  • Joelle Poitra

    “Eat, Pray, Love” inspires me to travel like that. I’d gain weight because of too much food in Italy, pray in India to find my faith, and get confused about who I love in Bali any day! All of that just to find myself and my true destiny? BRING IT ON! =)

    • Stephanie Spitler

      The food in Italy IS amazing. Bring stretchy pants 😉

      • Joelle Poitra

        Haha. Oh dang, if I ever got the opportunity to even go on such a trip, I’d probably do the whole trip in stretchy yoga pants if I could! I’d have to turn it into “Eat, Pray, Love, Health!” Just pure exercise on the last trip to lose what I gained everywhere else! =)

  • Lindsey Brittain

    I went to Venice a little over a year ago after dreaming about the place for years. I had read The Thief Lord when I was a kid and fell in love with the dreamy, mysterious Venice. I went with a college class, in which we had studied and read and viewed paintings of Venice. When we got there, we all had our own idea of what the city would be. And while it was disappointing in a way (too many freaking tourists), it absolutely blew me away at the same time. It was so much more detailed and vivid than my imagination had ever made it. My next dream destination? Istanbul. It was mentioned in The Historian and I have been dying to go ever since.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      The Historian is a great book. I was just talking about it today, actually! And Istanbul would be an awesome trip.

    • Sarah Armstrong

      Oh The Thief Lord! Same, I loved that film and I reckon that was part of the reason I visited Venice a few years ago, as well as Casanova.

  • Shealagh Whittle

    I went to Chatsworth House (2005 Pride and Prejudice Pemberley) a few years ago! It was magical. The gift shop had portraits of Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy (along with a bookmark that I may or may not still own).

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I’m jealous! Just thinking of the gift shop alone makes me want to go.

  • Donell Cherry

    I just got back from Lyme Regis, Soutwest coast of England inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasions. It was incredible!!xoxox

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Hope you had a great time!

  • Blaire Hiebsch

    When I went to Rome, I made sure to sit on the Spanish Steps that Audrey Hepburn had sat on in Roman Holiday. And my mother and I went to Bath just to see the Jane Austen Center… so I understand this, I think it is totally normal.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Did you get to the Trevi Fountain in Rome? That was one of my favorite spots.

  • Anke Ruwette

    I have but also because of movies though. I went on a roadtrip by myself to Louisville, Kentucky and on my way back I stopped in Elizabethtown (from the movie Elizabethtown with Orlando Bloom and Kristin Dunst) I also went to the overlook point where they meet up (it was just as pretty as in the movie!) During my time in New Zealand I of course traveled to various locations of the Lord of the Rings movie and I saw The Last Samurai being filmed! I would really love to go visit the sights from the Jane Austen books, but I’ll save that for a later adventure!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Anke, you’ll definitely love visiting Jane Austen spots. I thought Bath was a charming town, and Chatsworth is definitely on my list of must-see sights.

  • Sarah Armstrong

    My friend and I organised an overnight stay/pilgrimage in London to go and see everything Sherlock Holmes related. I enjoyed the stories and I’m a massive fan of the BBC series. We saw 221B Baker Street (obviously), visited the cafe which they live over in the series, went on a tour of the BBC and took (I’m not kidding) around 30 photos with Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock in Madame Tussauds! IT WAS AWESOME. At other times I’ve visited Chatsworth (Pride and Prejudice), Dartmoor (The Hound Of The Baskervilles), Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh (One Day), Wollaton Hall (Batman) and Verona (Romeo and Juliet). So much fun.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I would love to get to Chatsworth!

  • Rachel Dudash

    Didn’t travel to specifically a city because of a book/movie but while I was in London I definitely had to go to (and dragged my fellow travelers who did not understand where we were going) every street name ever mentioned in a Harry Potter book, visit 221b Baker Street for my Sherlock obsession, took night time photos of lit up Big Ben that look very Peter Pan-esque, tried to hit up some places that looked familiar from Love Actually, and went to Watford to see where the Potter movies were filmed (which I went solo on as my friends had left, so that trip is a lot of emotions and awkward selfies that I will forever treasure).

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Rachel, isn’t London THE BEST?!

    • Melisa Slep

      Hey! About a couple of days after you wrote this I actually went to Watford to the HP tour! Awesome.

  • Maren Guckelsberger

    I always find inspiration for travel destinations through books & co.! I went to Paris and Versailles last year and visited some of the places I saw in Midnight in Paris. It was amazing! :-)
    I’d also love to see Chatsworth one day.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Me, too! (to the Chatsworth visit)

  • Crystal Lynn Kamm

    I am definitely inspired to travel to England because of my many English novels that I love, but I have also gone to Washington State, Tennessee, Hawaii, Virginia, Wisconsin, and more, because of a love for certain stories. There are so many places on my lists…

    Prince Edward Island, Canada…who doesn’t love L. M. Montgomery?

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I love Anne and Gilbert!

  • Ellen Hofeling

    DEFINITELY! I’d be willing to bet that every place I want to go or have been and love the most are because they remind me of books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen. I just rewatched “Away We Go” for the 1000th time and where they end up at the end of the movie is EXACTLY the kind of place I want to live. The house, the land, the water, the breeze. Sign me up for that!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I’ve never seen that movie; I’ll have to check it out!

  • Nikita McInnes

    I’m planning a trip to Southern Africa and was inspired to travel there thanks to Roald Dahl’s autobiography, Flying Solo. He was posted to Botswana as a fighter pilot during WWII and his descriptions of the place, culture, animals and people have fueled this huge desire to see it for myself. I read the book when I was 10 and I have harboured this obsession with Botswana ever since.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      That sounds like a really interesting book! I’ll have to check it out; Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid.

  • Michela Rocchi

    I want to have a “Holden Caulfield” tour of NYC one day :)

  • Vero Pannitto

    I’ve visited Paris inspired by “Midnight in Paris” and “The Da Vinci code”, I’ve spent a whole afternoon at Louvre Museum. I would also like to visit New York for all the movies that shows the city during new year’s eve.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      New York is one of my favorite cities! No matter how many times I’ve been there, there’s always something new to see or do.

  • Melissa Kowalewski

    Absolutely: I want to go back to Sweden because of Steig Larsson’s books, I want to go to P.E.I. because of Anne of Green Gables andI want to to go Atlanta/Savannah/Charleston, S.C. because of GoneWith the Wind and In the Garden of Good and Evil. I’d also love to go to the Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh because of Outlander.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Prince Edward Island is a popular destination in the comments :-)

    • Alison L. Mains

      I walked through the standing stones at Inverness on a Highlands boozy bus tour and three months later I met my Scottish husband, Jamie. Well, his name isn’t Jamie but the rest is true.

  • Miranda Lang

    Russia because of “The Bronze Horseman” by Paulina Simons

  • Natalie Jeane

    Ever since I started reading the Thursday Next series, I’ve wanted to go to Swindon. It’s not a particularly romantic getaway, but it means a lot to me!!

  • Samrajni Patil

    Venice because of The Thief Lord! :)

    • Amy Wallace


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