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By Alex Martin | April 3 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a near-total halt to the travel industry. Our vacations have been canceled, your vacations have been canceled and right now there is no telling when we might return to normal. However, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we can traverse the globe from the safety of our own homes.
From virtual museum tours to amazing travel books, Elite Traveler has explored a number of ways to keep your wanderlust alive. In this latest article, we take a look at the best travel shows that you can stream right now.
Simon Reeve is one of the most well-traveled people on TV. The adventure broadcaster has completed a number of fascinating series for the BBC and his latest, a trek down the North American continent, is the best yet. Starting in Alaska and working his way down to Costa Rica, Reeve not only visits myriad natural wonders but shares the stories of the incredible locals that he meets along the way.
He visits the most extraordinary cabin in Alaska and meets the families forced to live inside a bridge. All along the way, Reeve manages to adapt his tone to every situation, offering an appropriate sense of humility, compassion and humor.
Reeve said at the time of its release: “The journey has taken me from the freezing mountains of Alaska, one of the most dramatic landscapes you can see anywhere in the world, to the steamy jungles of southern Mexico, where I had a few Indiana Jones moments creeping through the jungle and stumbling upon the huge temples and buildings of an ancient civilization.
“It’s a mind-blowing experience to go on a journey like this, and I really hope that viewers will enjoy it and learn from it, just like I have.”
A second series will follow Reeve on his journey through South America, finishing at the tip of Argentina.
Watch on: BBC iPlayer (UK), Amazon (US)
This show will always be associated with the untimely death of its host Anthony Bourdain, who committed suicide while filming an episode for its final series in France. It was a true tragedy in every sense of the word, but what the famous chef left behind was one of the best travel shows ever made.
Throughout the 12 seasons, Bourdain meets some truly wonderous people in local US areas such as the Bronx and Detroit. But there are also times where he dives deep into the unknown, traveling to remote regions in the Congo, Borneo and Ethiopia to discover completely different cultures.
As well as amazing stories to tell, the show is also beautifully shot and produced and proves you do not have to travel far to have an awe-inspiring adventure.
Watch on: Netflix
David Chang has built a successful restaurant empire in New York, offering an incredible fusion of Asian and American flavors. He was a pioneer of modern fusion cuisine, and in Ugly Delicious he offers an insight into where his inspiration came from. Chang explores the vastly different food cultures that make the US one of the most diverse places in the world.
Chang discovers the origins of the foods we most love, visiting Naples to discover the origins of pizza and to Mexico for – you guessed it – tacos. One fascinating episode explores the warped misconceptions we all have of Chinese food, perhaps to most popular cuisine on the planet.
A second series was released in March 2020.
Watch on: Netflix
Not strictly a travel documentary, but Planet Earth never fails to fire up your lust for adventure. Sir David Attenborough shares incredible stories from the natural world, all while drawing our attention back to the dramatic effects of the climate crisis.
The second series travels around the different environments that make up the natural world, from islands to mountains, jungles, deserts and grasslands. The most interesting episode is, arguably, based on the wild animals that have thrived in cities. Cameramen seek out the falcons taking residence in New York skyscrapers and African communities living in harmony with wild hyenas.
Watch on: Netflix, YouTube
The perfect blend of food and travel, Chef’s Table takes an intimate look at some of the world’s most successful and experimental cooks. While studying their majestic ability in the kitchen, viewers are also treated to the stunning scenery that invariably surrounds the chefs’ restaurants.
Follow Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez as he goes foraging in the fertile plains of the Andes seeking new ingredients for his world-renowned restaurant Central. Visit Vladimir Mukhin, the Elite Traveler Rising Star of the Year 2019, at his astounding Moscow restaurant The White Rabbit.
More than anything, the show proves that truly extraordinary food can come from anyone and from anywhere around the world.
Watch on: Netflix
Perhaps the antithesis of Chef’s Table (although made by the same people) this show explores the amazing food being produced on the streets of the world. Of course, street food is primarily an Asian tradition and that is reflected in Street Food’s first season.
Street Food travels to some of the most extraordinary examples of the culture, such as Bangkok’s Raan Jay Fai, which has a Michelin star. There are also stops in Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan. A new season, due to be released in July, will explore to wonders of Latin American street food.
National Geographic has given Jeff Goldblum to explore even his most obscure interests, such as cosmetics, sneakers and even denim. It’s not strictly a travel show, but Goldblum seems to visit every corner of the US in order to get to the heart of each topic. It feels like an ode to the United States with Goldblum offering a platform to the normal yet extraordinary people at the heart of it.
Take an intimate tour of some of the most incredible examples of private architecture in the world with the help of charming British actress Caroline Quentin and architect Piers Taylor. Together, they traverse to the globe to visit truly extraordinary homes. They look at houses built in extreme locations (think the side of remote mountains) and ones that simply defy belief.
Far from inspiring your next trip, this quirky show from journalist David Ferrer is telling you where not to go. Farrier explores the growing trend of dark tourism, the practice of visiting locations that have dark histories or, in some cases, are just outright dangerous.
Ferrer travels to the totalitarian state of Turkmenistan where nothing is as it seems, and Fukushima, Japan; the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in human history. It is a fascinating watch but at times teeters of the edge of what is appropriate. The host is certainly a charming character and manages to win the trust of even the oddest of oddballs.
Phil Rosenthal proves there is life after Everybody Loves Raymond with this Netflix original travel documentary. A truly unique character, each episode sees Phil dropped in a different city where he explores the best and worst of its local cuisine. Across two seasons, the show has now visited some of the world’s top foodie cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Buenos Aeries and Copenhagen.