So you’re already getting vacation pangs. Join the club.
January is a slow, painful crawl. The post-holiday blues, the pressure to rise and grind, the dregs of winter. It all adds up to an insufferable 31 days of stress and sadness — or maybe that’s just my seasonal depression talking.
If you’re feeling sluggish, it’s not your fault. With fewer hours of light, your body produces less serotonin. This is probably why you spend hours daydreaming about your next vacation. Europe? Bali? Dubai (the Tarte influencer TikToks did not help your FOMO)?
But if your next trip is nowhere in sight, it’s easy to feel discouraged and jealous of all the people on your feed who are always jet-setting somewhere new. Do they even have jobs? And who the hell is paying for these trips?
But one form of escapism that doesn’t fill me with intense bitterness: watching movies.
After going through the full spectrum of human emotion while watching the White Lotus, my fire for escapist vacation fodder was fully stoked. Turns out my favorite genre of movie is: vacation. It doesn’t matter what I’m watching, as long as it’s set somewhere beautiful.
So here are the films on my list of all-time favorite comforting vacation movies that make you feel like you’re not just wasting away under a weighted blanket:
Best Nostalgic Vacation Films
The Parent Trap
This film has all the vacation inspo you need: camp, camping, London, Napa Valley, and two Lindsay Lohans. It’s a hall-of-fame nostalgic film that takes you across the world in one summer — what could be better?
Passport to Paris
Though the top spot in the Mary Kate & Ashley film roster has to go to New York Minute — the plot literally revolves around a band singing a song titled “Vacation” — the freezing New York winter temperatures are not on my current wishlist. Enter: Passport to Paris, which walked so Emily could run.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
These pants do more traveling than I do. Tragic. That’s all there is to say about that.
Selena Gomez’s filmography is admittedly iconic. From her Disney Channel days to her current starring role in Only Murders in the Building. Go back in her career to watch this adventure through Europe filled with old money glamor and classic life-swap doppelganger plotline.
Best Beach Vacation Films
The blueprint. The Blue Crush girlies had what the coconut girlies and VSCO girlies wish they were. Oh, to be surfing day and night and living with my besties in a beach shack in Hawaii. Lowkey, if they did a remake of this, I wouldn’t even be mad. As long as Evan Mock was somehow in it.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Ms. Angela Basset gets her flowers for her dramatic roles, but this iconic rom-com is one of her best works. The white sand beaches, the blue skies, and the blue water all combine to create the perfect backdrop for my fantasies. Taye Diggs, too.
Point Break is a vacation movie in the way that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. But Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze playing surfers on a California beach rivals any Top Gun beach scene.
The sun, the sand, the beachy hair. And not to mention the music and the Meryl Streep of it all. This is the perfect cure to your late-winter blues. And suddenly I’m googling which Grecian Island to visit.
Best Romantic Vacation Films
Crazy Rich Asians
There are aspirational on-screen vacations. And then there’s the unrestrained opulence of Crazy Rich Asians. There’s no part of this movie that I don’t love. It’s pure, campy drama complimented by pure, campy costumes. It’s a combination of two of the best over-the-top film genres: vacation films and wedding films.
Call Me By Your Name
I’d watch Timothee Chalamet in anything. I especially love watching Timothee Chalamet biking through Northern Italy in breezy linen shirts. The Armie Hammer of it all did not age well. But the Timmy of it all definitely did.
Under the Tuscan Sun
All my home decor inspo I get from this film. Though this is about a woman finding herself outside of romance, it ends romantically so it counts. I, too, dream of abandoning everything and moving into a Tuscan Villa so she’s just like me for real.
Ibiza: Love Drunk
This slept-on Netflix film stars Richard Madden as the romantic love interest so it’s worth it based on that alone. It’s the least realistic premise ever: a woman finds love in Ibiza … at a rave … with an emotionally intelligent DJ. Yeah, right. But the girls-trip to Barcelona is on my bucket list.
How the Other Half Vacations
The Talented Mr. Ripley
What do you get when you combine Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Matt Damon? The fodder of #OldMoney TikTok dreams. Set in the fictional town of Mongibello, it makes me want to book my own Italian summer filled with gelato and jazz — and absolutely nothing else from the movie.
Death on the Nile
Everyone in this movie was lowkey canceled — Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright — but it wasn’t actually bad. An opulent and extravagant tour of Egypt mostly set on a yacht and between fabulous parties.
The Knives Out sequel is a satire on the lives of the rich and famous. I don’t know why all the movies about the rich vacationing end with murder, but I’m along for the ride — and the scenery.