It's time to travel vicariously through our televisions and laptops once more. Here are the best armchair travel shows to keep our wanderlust alive while we wait for lockdowns to lift, writes Stephanie Holmes
World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals
Three travellers visit holiday homes around the globe and share their expert tips and tricks for what to look out for in a great rental. Locations include Bali, America, the Caribbean, Finland, Mexico and Japan in the season's eight episodes.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron
American actor and heart-throb Zac Efron travels around the world in this docu-series, joined by wellness expert Darin Olien. The pair investigate healthy, sustainable ways to live, visiting countries including Iceland, Costa Rica, France, Italy and Peru.
Executive produced by husband and wife team Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, whose real-life love story inspired the movie The Big Sick, this comedy anthology series tells the stories of immigrants in America, from a range of nationalities including Syrians, Nigerians, Koreans and more. Each episode follows one immigrant and is inspired by true stories first featured in America's Epic Magazine.
Long Way Up
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman first teamed up as travel hosts in 2004 for their series Long Way Round, which saw them ride from around the world on motorcyles, then reunited in 2007 for Long Way Down, taking them from the North of Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. This time, they've traded their gas-guzzling bikes for electric Harley Davidsons and will travel more than 20,000km around Central and South America. Destinations in this 11-episode series include Bolivia, Peru, Patagonia, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and more.
Travel Guides New Zealand
If you missed it when it debuted last year, this light-hearted, locally filmed reality series will give you a good glimpse of the tourism offerings around Aotearoa so you can get planning for post-lockdown holidays to come. Five groups of families/couples/friends from around the country spend time in Northland, Southland, East Coast, Marlborough, Fiordland and Auckland, and are consistently blown away by all the amazing activities and experiences on offer. You'll come away with lots to add to your local wish list.
This series has been around for a while, but if you missed it in the 2020 lockdowns, it's definitely worth a watch now. British actor, writer and curmudgeon Richard Ayoade takes a weekend city break in a variety of locations easily accessible from London, taking a celebrity friend along on the journey. In the eighth season, he ventures to Athens with Dawn French, Porto with Nish Kumar, Hamburg with Bob Mortimer and Jordan with David Baddiel.
Roads Less Travelled
If you didn't get the chance to make the most of the transtasman bubble before it paused, this series will help inspire you to be more proactive next time. Hosts and travel enthusiasts Shane Jolley and Teigan Nash road trip around Australia, going off the beaten track and beyond the big cities we all know and love. Destinations include Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Darwin, Tasmania and more, and the series shows there's a lot to look forward to once we can get back across the Ditch.
Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime
Watching a Michael Palin travel documentary is as comforting as whipping off your bra and pulling on your favorite pair of trackpants as soon as alert levels change. In this delightful British series, Palin and some celebrity friends take a nostalgic look at some of the former Python's incredible journeys around the globe - Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Sahara and Himalaya - with the man himself giving new insights into his experiences, as well as reading from his journals of the time. Well worth the subscription fee, whether in or out of lockdown.
This Could Go Anywhere
English cricketer Phil Tufnell gets a tour of New Zealand with Black Cap Brendon McCullum as his personal tour guide. Tufnell first visited NZ in the 90s but feels that he missed out on some of our best highlights so returns for another look. The cricketers visit Auckland, Taupō, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, and Queenstown and play a lot of golf (no, not a misprint) along the way.
Walks with my Dog
Anyone locked down with a dog will know what a wonderful addition to a bubble they can be, providing the perfect excuse for a daily (or thrice-daily) constitutional. This gentle UK series is for all the dog-lovers out there - it follows some famous faces on gentle countryside rambles with their pet pooches. Robert Lindsay takes his two labradors out on the Cornish coast, Bill Bailey walks with rescue dog Louie on Exmoor, Phil Spencer strolls with his cocker spaniels in Windsor, and Angela Griffin visits North Yorkshire with her cavapoo (cavalier spaniel/poodle cross).
Amazon Prime Video
James May: Our Man In Japan
Top Gear alumni James May travels from Cape Soya in Hokkaido, north of Japan right down to Nagaro in the south. There are the usual antics along the way, reminiscent of a Top Gear special - May tries dog-sledding, competitive snowball fighting, goes to a J-pop concert and a cat cafe, sings karaoke and gets grumpy at a robot guide. Jeremy Clarkson would be proud.
Travel to some of Europe's most remote places in this documentary. Longyearbyen, on the island of Spitzbergen, Northern Norway is the northernmost inhabited place in Europe, while La Restinga on El Hierro in the Canary Islands is the southernmost. The 90-minute film meets some of the islands' residents, who talk about their lives, their dreams and hopes for the future.
Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted
Everyone's favourite foul-mouthed chef puts his ego aside in this series, aiming to immerse himself in new cultures, dishes and flavours in a journey around the world. The series takes him to Peru, Laos, Morocco, Hawaii, Alaska and even New Zealand, where he dives, hikes, climbs mountains and chats with locals to gain new inspiration for his menus. In the New Zealand episode, Ramsay is guided by Monique Fiso, acclaimed chef of Wellington fine-dining restaurant Hiakai, who teaches him more about her innovative approach to native ingredients.
Former war correspondent Bob Woodruff spent a career reporting on world conflicts so is not used to seeing the good in the countries he visits - he was even once seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq. But his experiences haven't put him off travel, nor have they led him to keep his children wrapped in cotton wool. In this series, he's travelling with his son Mack and the pair go to some of the places Bob has visited in the past, looking for a new perspective. Locations include Colombia, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Ukraine.