A couple of days ago I did something I haven’t done in over a year: I planned a vacation. A big one — my husband, our two kids and I are renting a house in Hawaii with both my parents and my husband’s parents, celebrating belated birthdays and milestone anniversaries and everything else we missed in the year 2020.

But that vacation is not until the final two weeks of 2021, and in the meantime we’ll be continuing to stay put in Chicago. Day … after day … after day … until who knows when.

So yeah, I am very much into March 30 being National Virtual Vacation Day. The point of this “holiday” is to encourage people to relax and de-stress, and it’s recommended that people seek out a VR experience to truly immerse themselves in another locale.

But I’m not going to have access to a VR headset anytime soon, so I need to get my escapism another way. Through the power of film!

Here are 5 movies to help you celebrate National Virtual Vacation Day:

Eat Pray Love – Twirl spaghetti in Italy, meditate in India and take in the breathtaking beauty of Bali — with Julia Roberts by your side. What could be better than that? The fact that Julia’s character’s personal odyssey is inspired by a true story will help make this virtual vacation feel all the more real.

The Darjeeling Limited – One of my life goals is to travel by train across… well, anywhere. In this Wes Anderson dramedy, three estranged brothers (Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody) decide to take that kind of trip across India a year after their father dies. But as with any Anderson film, it can’t be just a simple train ride — there are hidden agendas, repressed memories and family drama to spare. But against the backdrop of glorious Hindu temples and the beauty of the Himalayas, you just know everything’s going to end up OK, and you’ll be thrilled to be along for the journey. 

The Descendants – Obviously I’m going to include a movie based in Hawaii on this list as I count down the months and weeks until my trip. But be forewarned, this Oscar-winning drama covers some heavy topics while serving up luscious Hawaiian surroundings. It stars George Clooney as a man trying to hold his family together in the wake of both tragedy and a critical decision he must make about land they own in Kauai. Shailene Woodley makes her film debut as Clooney’s troubled daughter who returns from boarding school in the midst of everything falling apart. Depending on my mood, I might just mute the dialogue and choose to soak in the scenery in silence!

The Motorcycle Diaries – In this autobiographical film based on the trip journal of the young man who would go on to become Cuban Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara (Gael García Bernal), we see the controversial figure years earlier. Specifically 1952, when he takes off on a motorcycle trip across South America with his best friend, Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna). Imagine riding through the landscapes of the Andes mountains, the Atacama Desert, the Amazon and more on your way to the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. The duo covered more than 8,700 miles in 4.5 months, which will provide anyone who watches this movie with an amazing virtual escape.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – We’ll end with the 2013 adaptation of a beloved 1939 short story of the same name, about a man (Ben Stiller) who loses himself in adventurous daydreams. But when he gets a chance to live out some of those far-flung fantasies — in Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan — will he rise to the occasion? I won’t spoil it, but no matter what Mitty decides to do, you’ll get to tag along to some amazing places.

So now it’s time to dig out your best vacation-wear, pour yourself a fruity umbrella drink and head out on your virtual vacation. Enjoy!

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