The Best YouTube Travel Shows to Binge Right Now
With IRL travel on an indefinite hiatus, now's the perfect time to delve into a new travel show. Lest you find yourself plodding through Rick Steves' Europe or re-watching Parts Unknown again, YouTube has a massive treasure trove of standout travel channels, with high production value and genuinely talented, entertaining hosts.
It can be daunting to figure out just what the hell to watch on Youtube, so start with these 12 excellent, uplifting travel channels. Sure, you're grounded right now, but you can still stoke your wanderlust, plot your next adventure, and perhaps most importantly, stay curious and connected.
Benjamin Rich, the Brit behind the wildly successful YouTube phenomenon Bald & Bankrupt, is funny, entertaining, and always unpredictable. But more than anything, he is fearless. With a channel unlike anything else out there, Bald (as he often calls himself on the show) seeks to highlight the lives of real people in the forgotten corners of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere.
This means drinking homemade wine with babushkas in Moldova, having a cookout with boozy locals in Belarus, and delivering vodka to those living in the Chernobyl zone. When he is specifically told not to visit dangerous neighborhoods like Lunik IX in Slovakia, he does the opposite and befriends the residents of one of Europe’s largest slums. Often accompanied on camera by Belarusian friend Alina Adzika, Bald was most recently seen smuggling a cat out of Cuba and riding “Africa’s worst train” in Mauritania.
New Zealander Nick Fisher curates one of the all-around best travel channels on YouTube, as the friendly Kiwi seeks to explore lesser-known and misunderstood destinations often negatively portrayed in the media. In countries like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Somalia, his laid-back demeanor enables him to effortlessly chat up locals to help show viewers what life is really like behind the headlines.
Some of Fisher’s best work includes short interviews with everyday people like a store clerk in Iran, a gun-toting guard in Ethiopia, and a Mt. Everest trekking guide, which he integrates with useful travelogue information and occasional drone footage. Fisher can also be seen bathing in petrol in Azerbaijan (“the Switzerland of Asia”), searching for pirates off the coast of Venezuela, and hitting up a theme park in Afghanistan.
This husband and wife duo from Nashville recently achieved their goal of visiting 100 countries after four straight years of travel, amassing 1.3 million subscribers along the way. The self-described “awkward newlyweds” always seem to discover an interesting angle to their travels, from living with a local family in Bhutan and documenting the wonderfully bizarre World Nomadic Games in Kyrgyzstan to skiing inside a mall in Dubai and climbing an active volcano in Vanuatu.
Their travelogues offer viewers a nice blend of the entertaining and the informative, helping to make travel to seemingly obscure destinations more accessible. After eating testicles in Lebanon and sleeping in an ice cabin in Finland, they were most recently spotted wandering around Antarctica.
MORE: Get a closer look at the absurd beauty of Kyrgyzstan
Eric and Allison Bieller were living a comfortable life in San Francisco with two steady jobs and plenty of Netflix to watch on the couch with their cats... but they realized something was missing, so they booked a one-way flight and never looked back. Calling themselves “just two Midwestern goofballs” who “wanted to live a more intentional life full of adventure,” the couple can be seen scouring the globe in search of unique destinations, foods, and experiences like driving a tuk tuk in the Philippines, documenting the sprawling Tokyo food scene, and uncovering hidden street art in Romania. They often stay in unique, visually pleasing Airbnbs like a floating tiny house in Sweden and a WWII bunker in France, mixing their quirky “everyman” aesthetic with useful travel tips for viewers.
MORE: Bucharest's street art scene is just one of its many charms
Few people in the travel vlogging game work as hard as Louis Cole, who has released more than 1,800 videos under his travel channel FunForLouis since 2011. With more than 2 million subscribers, FunForLouis is one of YouTube’s most popular travel channels, but the Britain-born globetrotter still finds new ways to entertain his audience with his positive messaging and love for life.
Titles like “Inmates Cook Me Dinner Inside Columbian Jail” and “Skid Row Festival of Love” prove difficult not to click. Whether he’s traveling across North America in a school bus with 15 friends or cycling from London to Africa, Cole’s interests truly know no boundaries. Watch him drink fermented horse milk in Kazakhstan, explore a haunted salt mine in Poland, or ride the world’s longest zipline at sea.
MORE: That salt mine in Poland is also a club
Self-described “travel addict” Gabriel Morris brings 30 years of travel experience to YouTube. The author of Gabe’s Guide to Budget Travel
and Following My Thumb: A Decade of Unabashed Wanderlust
curates a wide variety of experiences for his viewers, from exploring the DMZ on the border of North and South Korea to interviewing his mom for her personal travel stories.
Morris is particularly adept at highlighting lesser-known destinations, from Malta and Andorra to Lviv, Ukraine, and Cappadocia, Turkey. One minute, he’s sleeping on the streets in Paris or trekking the Himalayas solo in Nepal. The next, he’s being chased by a grizzly bear in Alaska or exploring the nightlife in Hanoi. He peppers his fun travelogues with essential budget travel tips packed with a lifetime of firsthand knowledge.
Four words: Virtual reality camel fair. Interested? Dial up Alex and Marko Ayling’s channel Vagabrothers. These fun-loving dudes are always up for atypical ways to package their content, even if that means filming in virtual reality at the Pushkar Camel Fair in India. You can also find them surfing in Santa suits in Venice Beach, rescuing a puppy in Sri Lanka, exploring a Jamaican Rastafarian village, or hanging out in a “Jacuzzi boat” in Rotterdam. Their cinematic travelogues are mixed in with listicle-styled videos like “21 Easy Ways to Offend Locals When You Travel” and “How to Not Be a Bad Traveler: Travel Do’s and Don’ts.”
Over the past eight years, 28-year-old Drew Binsky has made it his life’s mission to visit every country on Earth. Currently having visited 191 of the world’s 197 nations, Binsky has been documenting his travels on his popular YouTube channel and plans to complete the project later this year (though 2021 seems like a more likely target).
Short on ego and long on curiosity, Binsky’s mercifully short documentary-style videos (most clock in around 5-10 minutes) seek to inspire young people and travel newbies. He's at his best when he is profiling the unique characters he meets around the world, such as the “Sapeurs of Congo” and the “Plastic Man of Senegal.” He also highlights off-the-grid communities and runs down his list of the friendliest countries in easy-to-digest and professionally filmed packaging.
The YouTube subgenre of solo female travel has been one of its fastest-growing in recent years, yet Eva zu Beck (who joined in 2013) is a relative veteran of the platform. With curiosity, empathy, and fearlessness, Eva shows viewers what it’s like to be a woman traveling solo in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
The Poland-born, Oxford-educated twenty-something shatters stereotypes and highlights the humanity of several war-torn destinations -- profiling female carpenters in Pakistan, running her first marathon in Iraq, attempting to buy a goat in Oman, and so much more. When last we checked in, she was quarantined on Yemen’s Socotra Island.
Ever wonder what would happen if you and your spouse decided to drop everything and sail around the world? You can live vicariously through Australian couple Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu. With no prior sailing experience, they have now sailed more than 90,000 nautical miles on their 48-foot cruising catamaran La Vagabonde since joining YouTube in 2014. They recently garnered even more global attention for sailing Greta Thunberg from Virginia to Portugal so Time’s
2019 “Person of the Year” could attend the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference.
When they are not sailing with global climate activists, Riley and Elayna are showing what daily life is like living on a boat with their 1-year old son. Watch them swimming with pigs in the Exumas, dealing with everyday maintenance and equipment failures, and encountering “nice men with machine guns” in Morocco.
There is currently a global obsession with people living in their vans, as anyone familiar with the #vanlife community knows full well. Partners Ben Jamin and Leah Airey travel the world in their vintage 1992 VW Kombi bus, providing a nice snapshot of what it’s like to live in a van paired with travelogues exploring locations from Malaysia to the Scottish Highlands. But the channel’s most famous trip by far is its epic five-year journey along the Pan-American Highway, the world’s longest road stretching 19,000 miles from Alaska to Chile.
There is nothing flashy or glamorous about The Daily Woo. And that’s just the way founder Adam the Woo likes it. Starting his channel in 2012 with an absurd 2,300+ videos posted in his collection to date, The Daily Woo is an irreverent combination of theme park reviews and dispatches from the forgotten backroads of America.
The latter is the most interesting, with Adam shining his camera lens on areas long devoid of attention (not only from the YouTube generation, but any humans in general.) This includes fascinating excursions to long-lost towns from southern Alabama and northern Texas to “the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.” You can also find Adam documenting small towns like Lake Placid and Roswell, checking out Civil War reenactments and roadside oddities like Bunnyhenge, or investigating the Lynyrd Skynyrd crash site and the hometown of Johnny Cash.
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Jay Gentile is a contributor for Thrillist.