The Best Sci-Fi Trips to Help You Escape...at Least for a Little While

The Best Sci-Fi Trips to Help You Escape...at Least for a Little While

The beginning of a long journey for Sam and Frodo.
The beginning of a long journey for Sam and Frodo.
Photo: New Line

What I wouldn’t give to travel again. To see someplace new. Visit someplace exotic. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy may say “There’s no place like home,” but she didn’t have to stay home for almost a full year during a pandemic.

That desire to travel gets even stronger around the holidays. This is the time of year we’re usually in crowded airports or highway traffic coming back after seeing our families. But not this year. This year you’ve got...home. Since you’ve got nowhere to go, we decided you might want to watch some sci-fi movies that might take you far away. Here are a few of our favorites.

Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.

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The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

No yellow brick roads this year.
No yellow brick roads this year.
Photo: MGM

Obviously, right? Maybe the trip was only in her head (or was it???) but along the way, a girl goes from Kansas to a magical land and then has to walk on a yellow brick road across that land. It’s kind of the ultimate sci-fi trip movie.

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Contact

Contact

Jodie Foster in Contact.
Jodie Foster in Contact.
Photo: Warner Bros.

While Contact isn’t a movie about a trip, the whole thing leads up to one—a trip across the galaxy where a scientist becomes the first person to make contact with an intelligent alien life form. And it’s so damned good.

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2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
Photo: Warner Bros.

Again, a classic. Though we don’t know quite exactly where Dave ends up going on his journey across the cosmos, the visuals along the way have become the signifier for sci-fi travel.

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Ad Astra

Ad Astra

Brad Pitt in Ad Astra.
Brad Pitt in Ad Astra.
Photo: Fox

One of the newest entries on the list, but this film about a man traveling out into space to find out what happened to his missing astronaut father is filled with excellent twists in a truly exciting journey.

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Interstellar

Interstellar

Me thinking about my family this holiday season.
Me thinking about my family this holiday season.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Interstellar probably isn’t Christopher Nolan’s best or most original movie, but it’s a great sci-fi travel story. A man heads deep into space to help save life back on Earth, and ends up folding time and space along the journey? Mind-bending, epic, and very cool stuff.





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Innerspace 

Innerspace 

My Space? Inner.
My Space? Inner.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Not every journey has to be way out into space. Sometimes the journey can be...inside someone’s body! This Dennis Quaid-Martin Sheen-Meg Ryan comedy is about a soldier who gets miniaturized and injected into the body of a regular guy. It doesn’t get a lot of love these days, but it’s a great concept with funny execution.

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Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth

The original Journey.
The original Journey.
Photo: Fox

There have been a few adaptations of this Jules Verne classic so, take your pick, but we’d probably recommend the 1959 James Mason movie over the 2008 Brendan Fraser one.

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The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings

What a trip across Middle-earth.
What a trip across Middle-earth.
Photo: New Line

All of them. Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King. Heck, even The Hobbit movies. They’re all about beings going on epic quests across faraway lands. Lots of trouble along the way but tons of outstanding visuals.

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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!

Can’t wait for Rick Moranis to reprise this role.
Can’t wait for Rick Moranis to reprise this role.
Photo: Disney

Like Innerspace, Honey takes a small, familiar place—in this case, the backyard —and makes it epic by making the travelers smaller. You’ll never look at the grass below your feet the same again.

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Up

Up

What a trip Up is.
What a trip Up is.
Image: Pixar

A few Pixar movies qualify here—Wall-E, Cars, Finding Nemo—but we’re just going to go with Up because, somehow, the story of an old man and a young boy flying to South America in a house with balloons is more fantastical than futuristic robots, talking cars, or fish.

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The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal

Almost 40 years later, still ugly as hell.
Almost 40 years later, still ugly as hell.
Photo: Henson

While the recent show is probably better, from a pure journey standpoint, the original 1982 film about two beings who travel across Thra to restore a crystal and save the world works wonders. Direct, simple, awesome.

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

All timer.
All timer.
Photo: Warner Bros.

I feel like Mad Max: Fury Road ends up on all of these lists because it’s just that damn good. In terms of sci-fi trips, the whole thing is literally a race from one location to another, traversing vast stretches of land. Then back again!

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Children of Men

Children of Men

Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.
Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.
Photo: Universal

Okay, not the happiest of journey movies, but this trip—featuring a man protecting and delivering the last pregnant woman on Earth—is harrowing, intense, and might make you never want to travel again. Maybe that’s more of what you need right now?

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Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Out of a DeLorean?
Out of a DeLorean?
Photo: Universal

Trips don’t have to be over physical distances. They can also be across time, as is the case with Back to the Future (and innumerable other time travel movies if you want). Marty goes from 1985 to 1955, back to 1985, to 2015, to an alternate 1985, back to 1955, to 1885 and then, finally, 1985 again. That’s a trip.

SLIDE #15Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Aww. These guys.
Aww. These guys.
Photo: Orion

All three Bill & Ted movies are great travel movies, in the same way the Back to the Future franchise is, but the first one feels the most grounded. Somehow. Probably because the places and people they meet and visit actually existed.

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The Goonies

The Goonies

The Goonies.
The Goonies.
Photo: Warner Bros.

The Goonies is a movie that hasn’t aged particularly well unless you loved it as a kid, but the thing I always enjoyed was the idea that just below your feet was a whole wide world of adventure. The titular Goonies find that epic adventure.


Of course, sci-fi adventures aren’t just limited to movies. TV shows like Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Lost in Space, pretty much every single Star Trek, and a ton of others are all just about that one thing. So pick and choose those as well.


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Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.

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