If 2020 has been good for anything, it's boxsets. At the very least, lockdown has given us plenty of time to catch up on all of those shows we've been meaning to watch for years, but never quite got around to. What 2020 has not been good for, on the other hand, is ticking off destinations and experiences from our travel bucket lists. The opportunities to do this are slowly becoming a reality again, but in the meantime, we have come up with a list of the very best travel series to keep us inspired to travel while we patiently wait on our sofas…
Anything by Attenborough
Where to Watch: BBC iPlayer/Netflix
We are huge fans of anything produced by David Attenborough and watching back over some of his shows has been one of the greatest possible antidotes to our current lack of long-haul travel. Whether you opt for one of the more recent documentaries from 2019 such as Seven Worlds, One Planet or Our Planet, or delve a little further into the BBC's archive for Planet Earth or Blue Planet - we love them all. Watching ultra-high definition footage of a coalition of cheetahs (a collective noun we learnt in one of lockdown's many online pub quizzes) hunting their prey across the Masai Mara is about as close to the action as you're going to get from the comfort of your own home. Or if you're counting down the days until you can don your scuba gear again and explore the underwater world, Blue Planet II is a sure-fire way to build up the excitement even further (this show also has one of our all-time favourite music scores, composed by the brilliant Hans Zimmer).
Where to Watch: Netflix
The American Netflix documentary Street Food is the best travel series for food lovers with its tantalising foodie footage from around the world. There's nothing like a street food market to really get a feel for a new place - whether it's tasting ceviche in Peru or checking out Michelin-starred stalls in Singapore - one of our favourite things to do when exploring a new city is to go on a street food tour with a local guide who can take you to all of the best spots to sample famous local delicacies. Beginning with a tour of Asia in season one (featuring Bangkok, Osaka, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore), then diving into Latin America in season two (featuring Buenos Aires, Oaxaca, Lima and Bogota), this is a real feast for the eyes... best enjoyed with ample snacks to hand.
Travel Man: 48 Hours In…
Where to Watch: Channel 4 On Demand
If you want a combination of travel and comedy in one TV show, Travel Man: 48 Hours In… is the one for you. It is hosted by comedian Richard Ayoade, and each episode he is accompanied by a special guest, usually another comedian, to explore some of the world's greatest cities in 48 hours. We are famously big fans of the weekend break, with our Big Short Break concept kicking off the Original Travel journey, so it's no surprise that we're well and truly hooked on this show. Each episode gives you a highlights reel of the city they are visiting, as they attempt to cram in as much culture, history, food and fun into a 48-hour period as possible. If you're a complete newbie to the show, some of our favourite episodes include Copenhagen with Noel Fielding, Venice with Jo Brand and Seville with Rob Delaney.
Where to Watch: Netflix/BBC iPlayer
The debate still rages on whether the show is as good without Jeremy Clarkson at the helm, but regardless of the host, the special edition episodes - where they undertake a driving-related challenge in a foreign country - have always been our favourites. Over the various seasons they have travelled to some incredible parts of the world from the savannahs of Botswana to the wildernesses of Patagonia. The 2013 episode where they attempted to find the source of the River Nile, while driving cheap second-hand estate cars through Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda was a particular favourite. Other highlights include the 2009 Bolivia special, where they travelled 1,000 miles through South America from the Bolivian rainforest to the Pacific coast of Chile, and the 2014 Myanmar episode, where they crossed the country in second-hand lorries and endeavoured to build a bridge across the River Kwai.
Race Across the World
Where to Watch: BBC iPlayer
The second season of Race Across the World was aired on the BBC earlier this year, with most of the episodes released during lockdown. The show involves teams racing each other across one area of the world, using any means of transport necessary (except planes) and a very limited budget. Season two saw five teams setting off from Mexico City with just £1,453 to get them all the way to Ushuaia, at the very southern tip of Argentina. Packed full of beautiful locations, the show inspires a real sense of wanderlust and a faith in humanity, as the contestants experience the kindness of total strangers all across the world, despite language and cultural differences. This winning combination makes for practically perfect lockdown viewing.