Wanna Take a Cheap Vacation?

Since we’re in a recession right now, most of us probably have to cut back on the big vacation this summer. But you don’t have to feel stuck wherever you are. I’ve compiled a list of movies available on DVD that will take you away to an exotic locale. How can you beat a $3 vacation? (I’m even cheaper—I get them for free from my public library.)

Oia coastline on Santorini, photo © Pop Culture Nerd

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants—Santorini, Greece. I immediately made plans to go to this Greek island after seeing this movie on video (it took me a year and a half to finally get there but still…). The sun-drenched beaches and white-washed buildings were too much for me to resist, and the reality was even more astounding.

Roman Holiday—Rome, Italy. One of my favorite movies starring my favorite actor and actress of all time—Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn—showcases the wonderful landmarks the city is famous for: the Spanish steps, Trevi fountain, Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth), Coliseum and more. It’s like getting a tour through the Eternal City from two charismatic, gorgeous tour guides.

If you want to see more of Italy and want to see it in color, check out The Talented Mr. Ripley. Besides Rome, the movie gives glimpses of Naples, Venice, Lazio and the Amalfi coast. And Jude Law almost counts as a tourist attraction in this movie.

Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke in Paris

Before Sunset—Paris, France. This movie takes place in one day as Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke’s characters walk and talk around Paris, still trying to figure out if their characters should be together (they started this dance in Before Sunrise). They sit around in cafes, take a boat down the Seine, and do romantic stuff with Paris as their backdrop. We’re not sure if they’re actually in love with each other but I do know I fell in love with the City of Light.

To Catch a Thief—Monaco. Grace Kelly was blindingly glamorous in this movie but the city, as captured in this Alfred Hitchcock movie, is just as breathtaking. Watching her drive Cary Grant around in her blue convertible and set off fireworks at night over the city when she kissed him, I thought of that famous Tina Fey line: “I want to go to there.”

Bardem frolicking with Cruz and Johansson

Vicki Christina Barcelona—Barcelona. Seeing Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz take bike rides and have picnics in the countryside, I asked myself why I don’t do that more often. Oh, yeah, I live in L.A. and would probably get hit by an over-sized SUV on my bike. But in Spain, that kind of languorous behavior would probably be enforced. Aren’t siestas mandatory? Sign me up.

The ladies sashaying through a bright and shiny NYC

Sex and the City—New York City. We all know there are parts of NYC that are so scary, you wouldn’t walk past them in daylight with beefy bodyguards by your side. But SATC makes it all look so shiny and romantic, stuffed with beautiful people wearing even more beautiful clothes. The walk-in closet Big builds for Carrie is a landmark in itself. I could never afford the way of life these people have but indulging in the movie makes me feel fancy and frivolous.

Australia—Australia. I don’t know much about Australian geography so I had to look up some things after being blown away by the stunning locales in this movie. Apparently, some of the featured areas are in Western Australia (the Kimberley region), the Northern Territory, and Queensland. I’m not an outback person so much but while watching this movie, I thought, “How nice would it be to unplug from everything, go there for a little while and ride some horses?” If Hugh Jackman shows up and wants to hang out, that would be fine, too.

Gleeson and Farrell gliding through canals

In Bruges—Bruges, Belgium. I apologize to some of you if you’ve heard me go on about this movie before but I love this little gem. Though Colin Farrell complains endlessly in the movie about being stuck in this medieval city, I found it quaint and lovely. I like the canals and the market square and the imposing Belfry, even though it served as backdrop to a bloody scene.

So have at ’em, readers. Check out these movies, put on your most comfy traveling clothes and recline that seatback on your La-Z Boy. Post comments and tell me which movies have inspired you to visit a certain place.

Speaking of traveling, I’ll be out of town for the next 10 days to see family. I might be posting less often but I’ve stockpiled some great stuff that will be published while I’m gone, including reviews of The Proposal, Funny People and an interview with thriller writer Gregg Hurwitz about his new novel, Trust No One.

I might also post book reviews from the road ’cause here’s what I’m taking with me:

stack o' books

There’s no way I can finish them all but I can’t decide which to leave behind. I sampled the first chapter of each (I’m halfway through Hothouse) and they’re good in different ways—funny, suspenseful, adventurous—so I’ll take them all and let my mood guide me.

Enjoy your DVD vacations. May each take you on a wonderful adventure.



  • Reply
    Shelley P
    June 17, 2009 at 2:32 am

    That’s a wonderful and inspired post, PCN ~a great idea!!! On a note about Australia, I nearly stopped watching during the first half hour, but I was glad Hugh Jackman kept me watching. There was a lot I enjoyed about the movie. And I\’ve never been anywhere as remote as where this was filmed, so it was spectacular for me to watch as well.

    Have a gorgeous holiday, PCN! {Shall we place bets as to whether you really do finish that stack? My money’s on Yes.} Relax and enjoy.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm

      Yes, the beginning of Australia was a bit painful, but I couldn’t stop gawking at the scenery.

      Thanks for the kind wishes about my vacation. I have every intention of enjoying it and hope I won’t make you lose money on that bet about my stack of books.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Great post, PCN. So glad you also enjoyed In Bruges. It’s a gem of a movie. The dialog in that film, and from Farrell’s character, are to die for… (hehe). Thanks.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

      I LOVE In Bruges; it was my favorite movie last year. The dialogue was hilarious and that was the best performance I’ve ever seen from Colin Farrell.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I just saw a less than average movie: MY LIFE IN RUINS……..although the story was less than mediocre, the scenery was was breathtaking. I’ve (personally) been to Greece and the visual environment brought back MANY fond memories of site seeing……..

    • Reply
      June 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm

      I heard that about the movie—how the scenery was more interesting than the plot. Since I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to Greece, I might have to see this as my cheap vacation.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Great ideas for vacations!

    I’ll watch them all (I’ve seen a few), and later I’ll reply some of my own ideas for cheap vacations!

    • Reply
      June 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm

      Yes, please, Poncho. I’d love to hear your ideas!

  • Reply
    Hai Yen
    July 2, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Hey Elyse!
    I enjoyed reading this post… made me want to go watch all these movies and then plan my trips 😛
    By the way, did you ever read Short Girls? I was intrigued by the title… Let me know if it’s worth checking out.

    • Reply
      July 2, 2009 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Hai Yen,

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Those movies had the same effect on me. I was SO excited running around Rome, saying, “This is where Audrey Hepburn ate ice cream!” and “This is where Gregory Peck pretended he got his hand cut off!”

      I have Short Girls up on deck. I sampled the first few pages (what I always do to determine if I want to keep reading) and so far I like Nguyen’s style. I’ll post a review here when I’m done.

  • Reply
    Three Lilly Gal
    May 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Hey, I was gonna post about Sisterhood of Travelling Pants location in Greece, then I found your blog. And I also dreading to go to Greece when I saw the movie 🙂

    Really nice topic ^^

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