The 10 Best TV Travel Shows

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With darker days now officially settled in for the rest of the year, we’re all spending more time indoors and in front of a screen or two. At dealchecker, we say forget the screen time guilt and embrace the amazing escapism of a great TV show. After all, it’s the closest we’re going to get to a holiday for a little while. Here’s a list of our favourite travel shows to get your teeth into over the next few months. There’s something for every type of traveller to ensure your wanderlust is sufficiently piqued.

10. Russell Howard & Mum: Globetrotters, 2016


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Where to Watch: Comedy Central

How many series?: Four

Perfect for: Everyone who needs a giggle

Synopsis: In recent years, a new genre of travel show has emerged where we join comedians as they take the trip of a lifetime, but there’s a catch, their parents have to come along too. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Russell Howard’s offering is a hilarious and heartwarming watch. His close relationship with his Mum Ninette is the star of the show as they embark on trips around the world and meet an array of quirky characters along the way.

Favourite Episode: Series One, Episode Two (Japan) – Russell and his Mum become ninjas for the day, plus Russell later dons a nappy to try his hand at sumo wrestling… Need I say more.

9. An Idiot Abroad, 2010


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Where to Watch: Now TV/Amazon Prime/Sky

How many series?: Three

Perfect for: Fans of The Office

Synopsis: Closed-minded friend of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Karl Pilkington is sent on an epic bucket-list adventure, which is best described by Merchant as “Making Karl do things that other people want to do before they die”. Gervais and Merchant lay out a host of surprises they know he’ll hate at every stop of his journey, all in all providing a laugh-a-minute trip around some of the most famous sites in the world.

Favourite Episode: Series Six, Episode Two (Route 66) – The boys decide to bestow Karl the ultimate Route 66 fantasy (driving along the legendary Route 66 in an open-top car) and generously provide him with a Smart Convertible – “I’ve seen babies in prams bigger than this”. Along the 2,448 miles, he is asked to join a high school choir, meet the Amish and get deep with New Age therapists.

8. Somebody Feed Phil, 2018


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Where to Watch: Netflix

How many series?: Four

Perfect for: Foodies

Synopsis: Philip Rosenthal is best known as the creator, writer, and executive producer of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, but get ready to fall in love with his enthusiasm for all things food and his infectious lust for life in his travel series Somebody, feed Phil. The format is simple, Phil travels the world while trying all the local cuisines and there’s occasionally some local culture thrown in too.

Favourite episode: Season Four, Episode One (Rio de Janeiro) – It looks like Phil was living his best life in Rio, as he throws himself into the carnival scene with gusto. The street food, vibrant market stall fruits and potent caipirinhas all look to die for too.

7. Great Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo, 2010


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Where to Watch: Yesterday

How many series?: Eleven

Perfect for: Staycationers and railway fans

Synopsis: Seasoned BBC presenter Michael Portillo travels the UK by train following cartographer George Bradshaw’s 1840s guide. This was the first comprehensive timetable and travel guide for Great Britain’s railway system and provides Portillo with a fascinating insight into how the country has changed in the time since the first railways were built.

Favourite Episode: Series Two, Episode 24 (Roybridge to Glenfinnan) – Continuing on from Ayr to Skye, Portillo investigates one of the geological mysteries of the 19th century and finds out how the Victorians put a weather observatory on the top of Ben Nevis. During the journey, he also crosses the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct (which you might recognise from Harry Potter).

6. Down to Earth, 2020


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Where to Watch: Netflix

How many series?: One

Perfect for: Eco-warriors

Synopsis: Actor and high school heartthrob Zac Efron is on a mission to use his fame for good and educate us all on healthy, sustainable ways to live, alongside his friend and wellness expert Darin Olien. This series sees him travel far and wide to explore the amazing initiatives that are helping us to protect our planet for future generations.

Favourite Episode: Episode Three (Sardinia) – Sardinia is famous for producing more centenarians (people who have lived for over 100 years) than anywhere else in the world. The locals make Zac rethink his view on nutrition as he discovers the secret to a long life might just be two long walks a day and a few glasses of red wine.

5. Dark Tourist, 2018


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Where to Watch: Netflix

How many series?: One

Perfect for: Thrill seekers

Synopsis: Dark Tourist is a travel docuseries with a difference from New Zealand-based journalist David Farrier. In this Netflix series, Farrier travels to macabre destinations to explore the death and destruction that the locations have become famous for. From the home of Pablo Escobar to Chernobyl, nowhere is off-limits. This is definitely not one for the faint-hearted.

Favourite Episode: Season One, Episode Three (USA) – Anyone who loves a good serial killer documentary will enjoy this episode, as Farrier goes on a Jeffrey Dahmer (notorious Milwaukee cannibal) tour, which includes the locations of his murders and a trip to see his defence attorney. He also dines with vampires in New Orleans and takes two further tours dedicated to JFK’s assassination.

4. Race Across The World, 2020

Where to Watch: BBC iPlayer

How many series?: One

Perfect for: No-frills travel

Synopsis: This high budget offering from the BBC sees five travelling pairs participate in a mammoth race across the world in a bid to win £20k. The race is made even harder by the strict rules: absolutely no flights, credit or debit cards or internet are allowed. Forced to find innovative ways to manage their budget and their journey, the race to the finish is a thrilling ride.

Favourite Episode: Series One, Episode Eight – The competitors embark on the final leg of the epic race, but a huge 4,800km still stands between them and the finish line of Ushuaia, Argentina – the most southerly city in the world. As the series comes to a head, it’s a nail-biting final, will your favourite couple win?

3. Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, 2020


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Where to Watch: All 4

How many series?: One

Perfect for: An honest and open look at modern America.

Synopsis: In 2019, contemporary artist Grayson Perry visited the USA on his motorbike/modern masterpiece to explore the country’s biggest issues – from class to race and identity, no stone is left unturned. It might be a social commentary at heart, but if you’re thinking of visiting America you’d be pushed to find a more authentic guide to ‘the land of the free’.

Favourite Episode: Episode One (The South) – In the year that BLM rose to the forefront of the world’s consciousness, this first episode tackles the key issues head on and reflects on similar issues closer to home.

2. Travel Man: 48 Hours in… , 2015


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Where to Watch: All 4

How many series?: Nine

Perfect for: City break lovers

Synopsis: Comedian/über-geek/actor/writer/director Richard Ayoade treats his celebrity pals to mini breaks in this irreverent travel series that aims to show you the highlights of each destination all within a compact 30-minute slot. Richard’s dry wit and unshakable skepticism make for a light-hearted look at travel that is truly unique within the genre.

Favourite Episode: Series Two, Episode One – Richard travels to Vienna with comedian, close friend and The IT Crowd co-star Chris O’Dowd. Trouble and awkwardness ensue during a visit to a traditional Viennese snow globe museum…

1. Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days, 1989


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Where to Watch: BBC iPlayer/Amazon

How many series?: One

Perfect for: Nostalgia lovers

Synopsis: In 1989, Monty Python actor and writer Michael Palin set off on a journey to emulate the adventures of Phileas Fogg in 1873, circumnavigating the globe by land and sea. It’s a travel TV classic as Palin’s charm and ingenuity shine on camera, away from his normal oddball comedy personas. It paved the way for a whole host of other travel shows that he embarked on in the following years. The race-against-time element keeps the pace of the series and makes it highly bingeable.

Favourite Episode: Series One, Episode Eight – In the action-packed final episode, Palin has just 22 days left to complete the journey and still needs to cross the Pacific, United States and the Atlantic… Fate doesn’t make it any easier as delays, misunderstandings and even a bond stand in his way.