If like me, there are times where you feel like losing yourself in thoughts of travel and wanderlust, then the travel documentary series Departures, is the best and most inspiring on Netflix and should without a doubt be the first on your must watch list.
I have always loved watching travel documentaries, from Simon Reeve exploring the Indian Ocean, to Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman on their motorbikes, to films that reveal what it really is like backpacking such as ‘A map for Saturday’. I love learning about different places and cultures, and when you can’t travel yourself, watching other people do so is a way to get a taste of what’s out there. So here are some of the reasons why I think it’s so great, and why you should check it out!
What Departures is all about
Departures is a 3 season long travel documentary programme following three Canadian friends, Scott, Justin and Andre as they travel around the world. Until recently only 2 out of the 3 seasons were on Netflix, but now all 3 are available for your viewing pleasure, which is great. You learn about their backgrounds, how they had always wanted to travel, then quit their jobs and lives back home to do so and follow their story and all the places they visit along the way. The diversity of the places they go to, from Antarctica, to North Korea (yes ‘North’ Korea), to Ascension Island, to more commonly visited places like Canada and New Zealand, is something that I haven’t seen in other documentaries. Each episode is a different country, with some being spread across two episodes, and there is usually a great mix of urban and rural parts of the country.
Great Hosts & Production
Scott and Justin are mainly the ones on screen with Andre working the camera, it’s all filmed on the road, no film or camera crew, so you really feel that you’re going along with them on their journey. Bearing in mind all of this, the production and cinematography is brilliant. Scott is an extremely informative host, who is a genuine and enthusiastic history buff. Throughout, he gives interesting information and insights on the places they visit all while keeping it interesting. Justin brings a more light-hearted persona to the group, always getting distracted by animals or looking for junk food along the way. Whereas Andre, is mostly behind the camera, but occasionally pops out to get involved eating something weird, or climbing a toxic volcano. All in all the dynamic between them makes for a really likeable group, and in my opinion how friendly and relatable the hosts are is a big reason for the show’s success.
It Will Inspire You
To say Departures inspired me is an understatement, it’s pretty surreal when you literally follow in the footsteps of people you were watching on a screen only a few months ago. One of the reasons I love this show so much is that the hosts are just like most of us, they aren’t minor celebrities or professional travel/explorer types. They are three regular guys who dreamed of travel, quit their day jobs, and made it happen. That’s why you can relate to them so much, and get so inspired by their story. I struggle to think of other documentaries of this quality where the hosts weren’t ‘professional’ travellers.
The way the Departures guys travel is one that I think is a brilliant example to others. It shows how you can get rewarding and varied experiences, all whilst having fun and still being respectful to other cultures. They always try and experience what the ‘real’ country is like, not just what is presented to tourists, and as the series’ progress they go into more and more depth on doing things more off the beaten track. Not to mention they tend to get stuck in and involved, from Justin Thai boxing against a local in Thailand, to paragliding, bungee jumping, sand boarding, climbing mountains & volcanos, racing horse drawn chariots, eating loads of werid and wonderful stuff, visiting hundreds of bucket list worthy places, and I could go on… If you can think of it, they’ve probably done it in the show.
So if you’re looking for a new show to binge and also love travel. Departures is what you should be watching. Have you got any travel shows or films that have inspired you?