Fictional Travel: Favorite Movies With a Strong Sense of Place

I’m a pretty chronic traveler, Gentle Reader.

My parents put me on a plane by myself to the UK when I was 9. I pretty much never stopped moving after that. I’ve lived and worked overseas, as a student and as an archaeologist. Since I became a full time author I’ve travelled more, not less.

I also really love watching movies with a strong sense of place. And by that I mean my kind of movies ~ heroine’s journeys, romcoms, and queer dramas. Piper J Drake and I did a podcast on this topic for 20 Minute Delay so you can listen to our picks there as well, if you want.

Anyway as a companion piece, I thought I would concoct a list for you of some of my favorite movies that make me want to go somewhere. I’ve alphabetized by country/setting. (Incidentally, I have intentionally left LA and New York off this list. Far too much is filmed in those places.)


Bride & Prejudice

I love this movie. I know, I know, it has issues but I have a weakness for Bollywood romances and this is take on Pride & Prejudice is directed by Gurinder Chadha! The genius who gave me one of my all time favorites: Bend it Like Beckham.

The two leads don’t have the greatest chemistry but I find everything else about Bride & Prejudice delightful.

I just want to go everywhere that they go, and no other movie has ever made me want to visit India as much as this one did. Also, I defy you not to get No Life, Without Wife stuck in your head.

Such a fun movie! It’s one of my favorite P&P adaptations, you can read about the others here:

The Great Pride & Prejudice Award Show!

My book that visits India?

Prudence (specifically 1890s Bombay area) .


Under the Tuscan Sun

I consider Northern Italy one of my heart homes. I excavated there in the late 90s for several summers running, near Florence. I’ve also traveled extensively throughout the country. I love the Como region in particular.

It’s the light and cadence of the language and the food of the northern parts of this country that particularly attract me. Also the vegetation and climate are similar to where I grew up in California.

Lake Como Italy in 2000 by Gail Carriger umbrella parasol

The AB and I once chatted about where we would be if we hadn’t met one another. My answer was probably living in Italy (at the time I had an EU passport). I always wanted to live and work in a place where I didn’t speak the language.

Under the Tuscan Sun was originally a book, a self-help memoir of the Eat, Pray, Love variety, but I prefer the movie. Still, as such it has serious flaws in terms of white lady syndrome, but that doesn’t stop the movie from making me yearn to return to Tuscany.

The movie is particularly evocative of the exact part of the country where I excavated and lived. It is a love letter to that part of the world. It is also a love story, if such can be said about falling in love with a different country.

I adore it because it so clearly reminds me of some of my youth as well as archaeology and my first real experience living in a non-English speaking country.

Also, in terms of movies that recommend Italy, I have to throw in the gorgeous Dangerous Beauty (about a female courtesan and famous poet in Venice late 1500s), Much Ado About Nothing, and, of course, Room with a View (for its intense worshipful look at Florence).

My book that visits Italy?

Blameless (Florence 1870s, I recommend the movie Daniel Deronda if you like this book). Yes, the Etruscan site they visit is a take on one that I worked on.



Spirited Away

Is it odd to have animation on this list? Not if it’s by Studio Ghibli. Many of their movies could be on this list but Spirited Away is my favorite. There is something about the evocativeness of the bath house and the spirits and the food in this one that really made me want to visit Japan. And yes, I admit it, I really just want to find soot spirits of my own.

My book that visits Japan?

Reticence (Meiji Restoration 1890s, although mostly a fictional floating lantern city).


The Lord of the Rings

The New Zealand tourist board did a smart thing when they embraced their identity as Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings movies. It was watching them that made me want to visit. And before you ask, yes, I visited, and I went to Hobbiton. At the time I had to sign an NDA because they were re-doing the set for the new Hobbit movie which hadn’t even been announced yet. So I can’t post the photos, but we visited. My mom cried. She read The Lord of the Rings out loud to my father when they were first married. And then to me as a child. It’s very important to her.

I also visited the glow worm caves and every hot spring and vineyard I could find, steampunk HQ, most of the coast line, and so much else.

I’ve been back twice now, both times I drove around in a caravan and to be perfectly honest, I kinda just want to live there forever.

I flipping LOVE New Zealand, I enjoy the weather, like how quiet, unpopulated, and remote it is. Remember I grew up super rural, middle of nowhere is my natural habitat.

It is the only place in the world, that I have been able to find, where the coffee is as good as the tea. It’s a flipping miracle. Their breakfasts are often UK in nature (which I LOVE). In fact, there is very little I don’t like about New Zealand, to be fair. There would be a steep learning curve on Mexican food, but I’m willing to give it a try. And if I want to truly eat Singapore isn’t that far away.



Until We Meet Again

For decades now, Thailand has topped the list of Asian countries I want to visit. Initially this was for one reason and one reason only: The FOOD. It has always been my favorite cuisine since I first ate Tom Kha Gai (the world’s best soup, no contest, no argument). The spice profile of Thai food is to my exact preference leaning towards bright, herbaceous, sour, and spicy. I like every vegetable in their pantheon and every protein. I have yet to meet a Thai dish I didn’t enjoy.

Then I met and fell into an enduring friendship with the amazing Piper J Drake. She’s Thai and we have discussed visiting Thailand on more than on occasion. Piper and I both travel so much we started a travel podcast together called 20 Minute Delay about traveling, often alone as a woman. Thailand comes up… a lot.

And then, oh and then, I got into Thai BL Dramas and all was lost. I specifically chose Until You Again, for this blog post.

This mini-series is available on YouTube and it features modern Thai college students plus reincarnation, lost love, so much pining, and so many obscure Thai desserts it’s like heaven in TV form. (Trigger warning for suicide and family homophobia.) Watching dramas like this one caused me to become deeply interested in the Thai spoken language.

Now I’m basically obsessed with visiting Thailand.

My books that visit Thailand?

None yet.

So those are some of my top want to visit places driven my the silver screen. What are some of yours?

Yours in motion,

Miss Gail

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The Enforcer Enigma, third the in San Andreas Shifters series.

TEE Enforcer Enigma SAS3 eBook


Direct from me?

A werewolf without rank or hope and an enforcer who has lived too long go up against the selkie mob.

This book has a very strong sense of place too, since it is set in the part of California I grew up in.

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Bonkers About Books says of The 5th Gender:

“I loved this book! It had everything I ever want from a sci-fi story and added in lots of lovely romance and then stirred the whole thing up with a murder mystery. With all my favourite tropes in one book, of course I loved it.”

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Posted by Gail Carriger

5 Responses

  1. Madeline said:

    These are some of my favorite films, probably in part because they make me yearn to travel too! Also, I started getting into Thai BLs myself last month and I’m so excited to read your thoughts on them!

  2. marmalade said:

    I just spent a day and a half totally binge-watching Until We Meet Again. Worth it.

  3. nasi goreng medan said:

    First of all I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Appreciate it!

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      Sorry, this comment got flagged as spam. Still not quite sure if it”s legit, but the answer is I have rituals that help me, like making tea, putting on music, clearing distractions by moving to a new room. That kind of thing. Also I always read over whatever I wrote the day before (but only that much), edit and clean that, and then write the new days word count. Rereading helps get me back into the right voice and mood.

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