Movies That Inspired Travel in 2012

“Set jet” around the world to locations in 2012’s most travel-inspiring films. Follow the Hobbit trail in New Zealand, search for the Life of Pi in Asia and travel like James Bond in the UK.

Photo By: Jeff Hitchcock, flickr

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Photo By: Harry Huang, flickr

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Photo By: Giancarlo Liguori

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Photo By: La Push Beach, Dave Morrow, flickr

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This latest installment of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy created a huge surge of tourism in New Zealand, where about 150 locations were used for Lord of the Rings’ scenes. The mecca of all Hobbit tourism is Hobbiton, private-farmland-turned-movie-set. You can tour the 44 hobbit holes set in the picturesque rolling hills of Matamata’s countryside to see how the furry-footed creatures live.

Anna Karenina

While this film version shows very little of Russia or its famous landmarks (much of the action takes place on a theatre stage), it still inspires opulent travel of the old world sort. The scenes of Anna Karenina traveling in a lavish train car through the snow-covered open landscapes of Russia leave us dreaming of a similar trip: a luxury train ride on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, touring historic St. Petersburg and dynamic Moscow.

Life of Pi

Praised as the next Avatar due its stunning cinematography and special effects, this film adaptation of Yann Martel’s fantasy-adventure novel has sparked renewed interest in Taiwan. With mesmerizing scenes filmed at Kenting White Banyan Garden, Kenting National Park and Taipei Zoo, Taiwan is likely to be on many lists for top destinations in 2013.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Ever booked a trip just for a meal? You might after seeing this film. This documentary follows Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master, considered to be the world’s best sushi chef. But good luck trying to get a reservation at his restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, in Tokyo; reservations must be made at least a month in advance and meals start at $300 a person.

Hunger Games

Super fans are insatiable when it comes to experiencing anything to do with Suzanne Collins’ novel about 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, even flocking to the backwoods of North Carolina to see the film locations. Hunger Games Fans Tours is even offering immersive adventure weekend trips where participants learn basic survival skills like archery, shelter-building and special-effects camouflage.

On the Road

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include this long-awaited film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel, which inspired a generation to get “on the road to nowhere.” Retrace Jack Kerouac's steps, visiting Beat landmarks across America, from New York's West Village to San Francisco's Jack Kerouac Alley. Keep the spontaneity theme going -- but skip the hitchhiking.

Skyfall

We’ve been envious of James Bond’s spy life ever since his exotic travels to Thailand in The Man with the Golden Gun and Sardinia in The Spy Who Loved Me. The 23rd Bond flick, Skyfall, is no less wanderlust-stirring, with dangerously alluring scenes shot in London, Scotland and Shanghai.

Lincoln

History buffs and the Academy Awards alike can’t get enough of this film about our 16th president. Capturing the renewed interest in Lincoln destinations, tours are popping up this year in key cities such as Washington, DC, and Richmond, VA, retracing Lincoln’s steps and revealing history-rich locations.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon fishing in Yemen? Not so fast, warns Yemen’s tourism board after it saw a surge of interest in the activity following the release of this British romantic dramedy. While it's not exactly advisable for the average tourist to visit this Middle East country in the midst of recent civil unrest, if salmon fishing is what you’re after, try the much safer Seattle or Alaska.

To Rome With Love

In recent years, Woody Allen’s films have inspired some serious wanderlust. In 2012 Allen followed up Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris with his latest tale of love abroad, To Rome With Love. The film showcases several stories of seduction in one of the most irresistible cities in the world -- Roma!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A group of British seniors check in to the newly restored Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India, with visions of an exotic retirement, but arrive only to find the hotel on its heels. Proving that travel adventures aren't only for the young, this film shows India's dynamic and transformative appeal for all. Judi Dench's character echoes this sentiment: "India hits you like a wave. If you resist, you will be knocked down. But if you dive into it, you will be alright."

Twilight: Breaking Dawn II

Cinematic merits aside, Twilight left us smitten -- and not with hunky werewolves or bloodsucking vampires but with its stunning filming locations in what is the last installment of Stephenie Meyer’s popular vampire saga. From the unspoiled La Push Beach, WA, to Alaska’s rugged Denali National Park, you don’t have to be a Twihard to feel the pull of these natural wonders.