As we all settle in for weeks or possibly months of staying at home, suddenly everyone’s scrambling to find new shows to add to their Netflix queue. If you’re looking for some reality television that has a travel angle, you’ve come to the right place.
From the frantic chaos of The Amazing Race to the entertaining lunacy of An Idiot Abroad to the uplifting spirit of The Kindness Diaries, these are some of the travel-themed reality programs you can stream right now on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other outlets.
Here are my suggestions for the top reality travel shows (and a couple that are travel-adjacent) available for viewing at this very moment. These shows will take you all around the world!
NOTE: If you prefer documentaries to reality television, check out our list of the Best Travel Documentaries to Stream on Netflix!
My Recommendations: Reality Travel Shows to Stream Right Now
The Amazing Race
The gold standard of travel reality competition shows (it’s won an astounding 10 Emmys in that category), The Amazing Race will be entering its 32nd season(!) when it returns to air soon. The most recent season took its teams 25,000 miles around the world, from Laos to Uganda to Switzerland to United Arab Emirates. Each season, you’ll soak up knowledge about a dozen countries without even trying, as you get caught up in the drama of the global contest. Follow the teams as they tackle challenging activities in Bali, Buenos Aires, Victoria Falls, and other cool destinations.
Currently streaming on: CBS.com
Extreme Engagement is a slightly contrived but intriguing show in which an engaged couple from Australia travels the world to learn about marriage rituals and customs among different societies. Each episode focuses on a different location. The first episode takes them to Cameroon, where they endure a 7-hour possession ritual in the dark in which dance and song are used to bring positive female spirits to the future wife.
Currently streaming on: Netflix
An Idiot Abroad
For three seasons, The Office creators Ricky Gervais and Stephan Merchant sent their deadpan sidekick, Karl Pilkington, around the world on wild adventures. Hilarity ensued, for two main reasons. First, Pilkington hated to travel, so the show was built around his constant reluctance.
Second, he never knew where he was going or what he would be doing until he got there. Gervais and Merchant set him up in uncomfortable situations, like swimming with sharks in Australia, and then laughed as they watched the hijinks from back in the U.K.
Currently streaming on: YouTube
Flying Wild Alaska
Flying Wild Alaska is a show I was obsessed with for a few years. Many of the small towns in Alaska are only accessible by plane, and it’s fascinating to see how the residents there live their lives. This show followed the adventures of career pilot Jim Tweto, who ran Era Airlines. He and his staff flew small planes to those remote towns, battling treacherous weather and mechanical problems to deliver essential supplies to communities.
The breakout star of the show was Jim’s daughter Ariel, whose bubbly, endearing personality made her a fan favorite. For more Alaska madness, also consider Alaska State Troopers, Gold Rush Alaska, and Ice Road Truckers.
Currently streaming on: Amazon Prime, Discovery.com
Few Americans had ever heard of Vanuatu or Marquesas before the now-iconic CBS reality show Survivor transported viewers there. Over the year, host Jeff Probst has taken his band of castaways to places like Guatemala, Thailand, Australia, and Gabon, but the show most often films on Pacific islands like Palau, Fiji, and Samoa. Contestants battle through physical challenges and seek out immunity idols to try to outplay, outlast, and outwit their rivals and avoid those dreaded words… “The tribe has spoken!”
For the season in which the travel location has the biggest effect on the show, seek out Survivor Africa (season 3), which features elephants roaming uncomfortably close to the castaways’ camp. For the most interesting season from a game play perspective, watch Survivor Samoa (season 19), which features the debut of super villain Russell Hantz.
Currently streaming on: Hulu, CBS.com
The Kindness Diaries
Send a man to Anchorage, Alaska, give him a tiny Volkswagen, and require him to drive all the way to the southern tip of South America without any money. That’s the premise of The Kindness Diaries. The host cannot accept money, but he can accept food, lodging, and other gifts from kind strangers who agree to help him out. Along the way, he meets lots of interesting folks and makes genuine connections with them.
Currently streaming on: Netflix
Man vs. Wild / You vs. Wild
On the classic show Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls explores some of the most remote places on the planet, from the deserts of Namibia to the coldest reaches of Siberia. The survival expert is forced to catch his own food and start his own fires to endure the harsh conditions. Because a small number of scenes were staged, the creators call the show a “how-to guide” rather than a documentary. Still, by watching, you’ll learn a lot about various places in the world and how people and animals are able to adapt to those habitats.
Also, consider checking out the more recent program called You vs. Wild, which is basically the same show, but an interactive version. If you watch on a mobile device, you’ll be given survival choices to make, and Bear will take your advice as he tries to stay alive. You’d better make the right decisions! Think of it like a “choose your own adventure” show.
Currently streaming on: Amazon Prime & BBCAmerica.com (Man vs Wild), Netflix (You vs. Wild)
Travel-Adjacent Reality Shows Worth Watching
This section highlights a couple of reality tv shows that aren’t really about travel, but which can still satisfy your wanderlust because of the way in which they highlight particular cities.
Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles
Though it’s a real estate show rather than a travel series, Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles is one of my favorite programs and it makes me want to move to California every time I watch it. The show fully captures the spirit and energy of L.A. with the beautifully-shot scenes of the city they display between house showings.
The New York version of Million Dollar Listing provides good insight into NYC as well, but it’s the L.A. edition that really amps up the wanderlust factor. Seeing a gorgeous Malibu mansion on a cliff overlooking the ocean will make you start dreaming of your next beach vacation ASAP. The most recent season also took viewers to glamorous Dubai.
Currently streaming on: Bravotv.com
The Real World & The Real Housewives
For those who prefer their reality television with a huge heaping of drama (and by drama I mean screaming matches), try reality tv classics like The Real World and The Real Housewives series. Both franchises are set in multiple cities, and each season reveals quite a bit of the character of that particular location.
I recommend both Real World seasons filmed in New Orleans (seasons 9 & 24) which provide especially in-depth portraits of the Big Easy. Episodes focus on Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras, and the Hurricane Katrina recovery. And The Real Housewives of Atlanta offers a glimpse into upscale side of Georgia’s capital city – at least, when they’re not throwing drinks in each other’s faces.
Currently streaming on: Amazon Prime (The Real World), Hulu & Bravotv.com (Real Housewives)
Do you have a favorite among reality travel shows?