Over 20 family-friendly travel movies with strong female role models

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There is nothing quite like a movie experience, it can bring out a plethora of emotions and leave you dreaming… of friendships, adventures, and delicious food!

We find ourselves in truly unprecedented times. The experience of our daily lives now looks a little different as we attempt to settle into our new normal. We need faith and wonder now more than ever before.

If you find yourself in lockdown/quarantine eagerly looking for a way not only to keep the kids entertained, but also to keep hope alive… then I have just the list of family-friendly movies for you! Added bonus, this list contains strong female role models! These movies will transport your family around the world, while powerful messages are tucked away in the marvel. They are great even if you don’t have kids to watch them with, so let the inner-kid enjoy hours of entertainment.

 If you would like to skip over the next section and look straight at the list, just scroll down to the table detailing the titles, genres, year of release, destinations, and lead actors.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

If courage is what we need, then let’s look no further than Nim’s Island. Filming took place on Hinchinbrook Island which is off the Northeast coast of Queensland, Australia. A story that forces a writer, battling a severe phobia, to face her fears head-on. On the other side of the world a brave little girl who will do whatever it takes to protect the unknown island she calls home.

Anna and Christy (daughter and mother) from Miracles from Heaven display the most tremendous courage in this beautiful movie. It is based on a true story centered on a ten year old girl who falls ill and the amazing journey to find peace and healing. Jennifer Garner’s performance is touching with great supporting roles from Eugenio Derbez and Queen Latifah. Filming took place between Atlanta and Senoia in Georgia and Boston in Massachusetts.

Another fearless little girl, Sophie, an orphan from The BFG (the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story The Big Friendly Giant). I must admit, I thought some parts of this movie might scare my girls, but my eldest loves it. The scenery is spectacular with filming that took place in Scotland and England. Sophie ends up with a friendly giant, unlike any other. Not only is she brave, but she devises a plan that will change everything.

I have special memories of enjoying the animated series of Heidi, in Afrikaans, when I was a little girl. When the live-action movie Heidi was released in 2015 I got to enjoy it all over again. I watched it in Afrikaans, but I believe it is available in German and English. The splendour of the Swiss Alps is unmatched in this film, showing its beauty in all the seasons. Most of the filming took place in Grisons. This is a tale about a brave little girl who finds herself dumped in unfamiliar situations, but with her enthusiasm and innocence she is able to take things in her stride. She makes meaningful friendships and gives her grandfather a second chance at allowing love and light back into his life.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold brought Nickelodeon’s educational children’s series to life in a big way. Filming was done almost entirely in Australia, with only a few scenes shot in Peru. The adventure is magnificent. Dora, now a teenager, finds herself having to navigate the world of high school and making friends, while thrust into a rescue mission in the Peruvian jungle.

Monte Carlo is a sweet story of three young ladies, out of high school, going on holiday in Paris but ending up in Monte Carlo due to a case of mistaken identity. Its narrative is one of love, friendship, blended family, and a journey of self-discovery. It has exceptional European locations and makes you feel 18 again, taking you back to a time where the world was your oyster.

Another childhood favourite, The Sound of Music. Maria, hopeful to be a nun, finds herself a governess (i.e. nanny) to seven children; that makes her a heroine in my books! I watched it again last year on the plane back home from my trip to Europe, to be reminded of the splendour of Austria. This is a timeliness classic and the beauty of Salzburg, Austria is truly exemplified. The von Trapp family crawled their way into our hearts. This enchanting musical features songs like My favourite things and Do-Re-Mi, which will live on forever.

A movie that truly had me riveted was Hidden Figures, based on a true story. A few strong messages that I took away from the film included the fight against colour discrimination, gender discrimination, and automation versus manpower – however, portrayed in such a beautiful way that I found it to be family-friendly. Three incredible African-American women work at NASA in the 1960’s; not only are they unbelievably intelligent, but also resourceful and resilient. I found the movie to have such a positive message and I hoped that my daughters grasped its magnitude. Most of the filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia. Besides, what is more marvelous than NASA and space travel?

Moving on to take a little visit to France, Ballerina (known also as Leap) is a whimsical story about an orphan, Félicie, who wishes to escape the orphanage in rural France with her best friend, Victor, in order to realise her dreams in Paris. Félicie dreams of being a famous ballerina, while Victor wants to be an inventor. Her determination to make it in the world of ballet, and their extraordinary friendship, is put to the test in this story.

Lilo and Nani, from Lilo & Stitch, make it onto the list because of their strength after the loss of their parents. Lilo is a tenacious little girl that we couldn’t help but fall in love with. She finds herself lonely, without friends, until a fiery alien creature comes into her life. While Nani, much older, has the responsibility of looking after Lilo. It’s a sweet story about Ohana (which means family). The movie is set in the tropical Kauai, in Hawaii. The Hawaiian culture comes alive throughout the movie.

The Wild Thornberrys Movie boasts an extraordinary young girl, Eliza, with an ability to communicate with Animals and a heart of gold. The Thornberry family are in Africa and Eliza’s filmmaking parents want to record an elephant migration. However, Eliza is up against poachers! The setting is inspired by East Africa’s Kenya.

Yi, from Abominable, stole our hearts in her quest to get a Yeti back to where it belongs. Her friend and his cousin (Peng and Jin) join in on the unbelievable adventure. Yi is a teenage girl and after having lost her father, secretly plays the violin, and tends to shut people out. This vibrant movie features destinations from China that will take your breath away.

Tip (voice of Rihanna), from Home, is another young girl who captured our affections on her search to reunite with her mother (voice of Jennifer Lopez). After an alien invasion on earth, humans are relocated to Australia. Tip and her cat (named Pig) are left behind. She meets a peculiar alien, Oh (voice of Jim Parsons from the Big Bang Theory), who offers to help her, because he finds himself in trouble. You will notice recognisable landmarks from all around the world throughout the movie. The best part, their transport is a floating car!

The sisters, Anna and Elsa, from Frozen surely need no introduction! I thought nothing could ever top the first one and then Frozen II exceeded all expectations. Frozen II is the highest grossing animated film of all time. The breathtaking locations were inspired by Norway. Each sister has her own unique strengths, but also secret struggles. They have the best companions, and the humour that Josh Gad brings as Olaf is unrivaled. They will inspire and mesmerise the audience in both movies as they embark on their voyages.

A courageous young lady, Merida from Brave, will take you to the beauty of a fantastic historic Scotland. Not wanting to have life-changing decisions imposed on her, she fights for a world where she can make her own choices. The dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship are beautifully illustrated. I loved the Scottish accents as it kept the story true to its destination. It is a glimpse into the rich Scottish culture, which was at the heart of this story.

Moana, another spirited young girl, will take you to magnificent tropical locations. She needs to be brave to help her village, against her father’s instructions (because of his own hurt and past). Her eccentric grandmother believes in her and pushes her to unleash her full potential. The songs are very catchy and the Polynesian culture is intertwined into the story.

Let’s add Mulan to the list of heroic young ladies. The Disney version of the Chinese folklore has been criticized for its factual inaccuracies, it is a beautiful story nonetheless. The live-action adaptation is pending release until the pandemic settles down, so this refers to the animation. Having to take a massive risk as sacrifice to save her father, she takes us on an adventure as she learns to fight to protect her country. A beguiling trip to China where you see the Great Wall of China, Cherry Blossoms, and rice fields. I absolutely loved the songs and by now we know that Eddy Murphy makes a great side-kick!

Anastasia is based on a true story taking us to Imperial Russia. Disney’s version has a more optimistic twist and creative liberties were taken. Even so, it’s a beautiful story of a young woman who must discover who she truly is. The villain in this picture, Rasputin, is one of the scarier ‘bad guys’ from Disney in my opinion. While the first half of the movie is based in Russia, the second half is set in Paris.

Tiana from The Princess and the Frog is another noteworthy young lady, who teaches us that hard work and discipline is the way to reach your goals, values which her father instilled in her. I absolutely enjoyed Disney’s version of this classic tale which takes us to New Orleans in Louisiana (this is what put New Orleans straight on my bucket list). You will crave Beignets and the sounds of Jazz. The villain in this film, Dr. Facilier (also known as the Shadow Man) is also one of the more frightening ‘bad guys’.

Rapunzel from Tangled makes it onto the list of daring women. Granted the Kingdom of Corona is not a real destination, however, it was inspired by the island village and castle of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. It makes it onto the list because Disney’s version of Rapunzel shows a young lady full of curiosity taking us through her journey of discovery and finding independence. Lastly, this movie sparked a lot of interest during this pandemic because of the Kingdom’s name as well as the fact that Rapunzel was in isolation, locked up in the tower (amongst other curiosities).

Princess Jasmine of Aladdin joins the list of strong women. The strong-willed and capable princess is not afraid to question decisions or stand-up for herself; I love that her character stands out in a movie titled after the male lead. Besides, she has a tiger as her pet! I recommend watching both the 1992 animation and the 2019 live-action remake, of the folk tale of Middle Eastern origin. The animation was a fundamental part of my childhood. The remake stars a gorgeous cast, mostly with Middle-Eastern/ South-Asian descent. Jasmine, played by the stunning Naomi Scott, introduces a powerful new song Speechless. While Robin Williams’s performance of Genie in the 1992 animation was phenomenal as he kept the audience constantly engaged, it goes without saying that there were massive shoes to fill. Will Smith brought his own charm and charisma to the character which left no gaps in the full-bodied role of Genie. The humorous dynamic between the artful Aladdin, played by Mena Massould, and Genie was priceless. The city of Agrabah, although not real, is a fusion of Middle-Eastern and South-Asian and in the remake some filming was done in Jordan.

I’m ending the list with one of my all-time favourite princesses, Belle from Beauty and the Beast. It’s a story we have heard in many different ways, but I absolutely love the Disney version! She refused to conform to what society expected of women, nor does she fall for the tricks of the good-looking guy in town that all the girls swoon over. A love so deep for her father that she takes his place as prisoner in the Beasts’ castle. Once again, I recommend both the 1991 animation and the live-action adaptation of 2017. The animation was one of my favourite movies as a child, I loved singing Bonjour with Belle and the locations were inspired by Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé (Alsace, France). The 2017 flick was mostly filmed on exquisite and elaborate sets, but some of it was shot at Winterfold Forest and Hurtwood (Surrey, England) and Ivinghoe Beacon (Buckinghamshire, England) while still having viewers believe the story is set in France. Emma Watson (from the Harry Potter series) did a great job as Belle and they even included details about what happened to her mother. I couldn’t have loved the actors playing the supporting roles anymore!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Here is the list of family-friendly travel movies with strong female role models:

Title

Release Date

Genre

Destination

Main Actors

Nim’s Island

2008

Adventure/Family

Hinchinbrook Island

Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, and Gerard Butler

Miracles from Heaven

2016

Christian Drama

Georgia and Massachusetts, USA

Jennifer Garner and Kylie Rogers

The BFG

2016

Family/Fantasy

Scotland and England

Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, and Jemaine Clement

Heidi

2015

Family/Adventure

Switzerland

Anuk Steffen and Bruno Ganz

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

2019

Comedy/Action

Australia, some shots in Peru

Isabela Moner, Eva Longoria, and Eugenio Derbez

Monte Carlo

2011

Romance/Comedy

France and Monaco

Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester

The Sound of Music

1965

Musical/Family

Austria

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer

Hidden Figures

2016

Drama/History

Georgia

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe

Ballerina

2016

Animation/Family

Inspired by France

Voices by Elle Fanning and Dane DeHaan

Lilo & Stitch

2002

Family/Animation

Inspired by Hawaii

Voices by Daveigh Chase and Tia Carrere

The Wild Thornberrys Movie

2002

Animation/Family

Inspired by Africa

Voices by Lacey Chabert and Tim Curry

Abominable

2019

Family/Animation

Inspired China

Voices by Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, and Albert Tsai

Home

2015

Animation/Family

Inspired by several destinations around the world

Voices by Rihanna, Jim Parsons, and Jennifer Lopez

Frozen

2013

Family/Musical

Inspired by Norway

Voices by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell

Frozen II

2019

Animation/Family

Inspired by Norway

Voices by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell

Brave

2012

Animation/Family

Inspired by Scotland

Voices by Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson

Moana

2016

Animation/Family

Inspired by Islands of Polynesia

Voices by Auli’I Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson

Mulan

1998

Animation/Family

Inspired by China

Voices by Ming-Na Wen and Eddie Murphy

Anastasia

1997

Animation/Musical

Inspired by Russia and France

Voices by Meg Ryan, John Cusack, and Kelsey Grammer

The Princess and the Frog

2009

Animation/Musical

Inspired by New Orleans, USA

Voices by Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, and John Goodman

Tangled

2010

Animation/Family

Inspired by Normandy, France

Voices by Mandy Moore and Zachary Lev

Aladdin

2019

Family/Romance

Jordan

Naomi Scott, Will Smith, and Mena Massoud

Aladdin

1992

Animation/Musical

Arabian inspired

Voices by Robin Williams, Scott Weigner, and Linda Larkin

Beauty and the Beast

2017

Family

England

Emma Watson and Luke Evans

Beauty and the Beast

1991

Animation/Musical

Inspired by France

Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, and Angela Lansbury

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Now that we have had a good look at a few captivating female roles while travelling around the world – and can I just say that we have been given so many resilient women on screen – let’s look at some of the venturous male personas next, so look out for that!

Which of these is your family’s favourite movie? What other movies should be on this list? Let me know in the comments section.

If you liked this list and think that others will too, give it a share!

Stay safe

xxx

32 thoughts on “Over 20 family-friendly travel movies with strong female role models

  1. Such great movies. I’ve seen a lot of them, but need to branch out from Disney a bit to see some of the others. I always loved Beauty and the Beast. A movie with a strong female lead who won’t take crap from the men and loves to read! Best Disney princess ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! It’s always fun to watch these kinds of movies with fabulous female leads.

    Have you considered looking at some Japanese anime (go for Ghibli if you want family friendly ones) most of them are great for fab female role models. Totoro is the famous one (and great) but spirited away, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and Castle in the Sky are all really good too.

    I think Nausicaä is my favorite for the ecological message as well as the great story…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ommggg the Wild Thornberries!! THROWBACK! This is an incredible list! And I haven’t seen the majority of them! Welp, I know what I’m doing this weekend

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aaaah I have seen so many of these and love all of them! One I loved as a child was ‘A little princess’. Especially the flash backs to when she was living in India. It always made me want to visit that country!

    Liked by 1 person

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