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SideReel's Guide to Travel (Television)

The dead of winter is a tough time! The post-holiday glow has turned into a monthlong hangover, you don't want to use up your vacation time yet, and it's too cold to do much of anything except hide under a blanket. But fret not, SideReelers! We've put together a list of our favorite travel-themed episodes just for you. So go ahead; substitute the warmth of your television for the warmth of the sun, and hide away until spring.

 

 

An Idiot Abroad S2E7: Mount FujiAn Idiot Abroad S2E7: Mount Fuji

Karl Pilkington (the ornery producer of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's radio series) was sent around the world—three times—on An Idiot Abroad. He hated every minute of it. But out of his irritation and confusion often came somewhat profound statements. HIs trip to Japan's Mount Fuji allows for quite a bit of demented-yet-beautiful introspection. Upon reaching the summit, he utters in wonderment what so many have probably thought about accomplishing any great feat: "I've done it, haven't I? Completed it. But I feel like shit, even though... that's amazing... I feel like shite."

 

Friends S4E23: The One With Ross's WeddingFriends S4E23: The One With Ross's Wedding

Travel episodes are designed to take well-known characters out of their comfort zones—something that's especially necessary when we only really see them on three or four sets. Friends did a number of travel episodes for this very reason, but this two-parter, set in London for (one of) Ross's (many) wedding(s) upped the ante for everyone (Monica and Chandler have sex! Rachel crashes the ceremony! Phoebe's stuck at home and super pregnant!), while also offering a delightful montage of all things British (set to the iconic "London Calling") as well as appearances by billionaire Richard Branson, the Duchess of York, and a pre-House Hugh Laurie.

 

Modern Family S1E23: HawaiiModern Family S1E23: Hawaii

Pity the Pritchetts, pretty please. Phil and Claire might live a charmed life now, but they never did get their perfect wedding or honeymoon. Phil (hapless though he is) wants to change that on their family trip to Hawaii. Anyway, the rationale is really beside the point, as what this episode does is show us what a vacation at a luxe Hawaiian resort is like. Spoiler alert: It's really nice. Sure, Haley flirts with boys and gets drunk and Cam and Mitchell lose Lily, but those are just hijinx. In the end, it's hard not to be squarely focused on those vistas and infinity pools. Hmm, how much is a flight to Hawaii anyway?

 

Parks and Recreation S5E1: Ms. Knope Goes to WashingtonParks and Recreation S5E1: Ms. Knope Goes to Washington

Leslie Knope's perky enthusiasm for everything government couldn't possibly have a better showcase than this episode which finds her and office dullard Andy visiting Washington D.C. to visit their respective paramours, Ben and April. And you know what? D.C. benefits from their earnestly happy mid-westernness, especially in contrast to its usual televised portrayal as a dark hellhole teeming with evil. Cameos by actual lawmakers (Senators Boxer, Snowe, and McCain) give the impression that it's just that easy to bump into the powers that be when in the nation's capital, but let's be honest: It'd be way more exciting to meet Knope.

 

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations S1E2: IcelandAnthony Bourdain: No Reservations S1E2: Iceland

Only masochists (and your editor) vacation in Iceland in the winter. It's pitch-black for all but four hours per day, and there isn't much to do but eat, drink, and sit in the hotsprings. Actually, I'm totally unclear as to how that's not an ideal vacation. Anthony Bourdain would seem to agree with me, it seems. In this second episode of his landmark Travel Channel series, the man enjoys all the hospitality of this tiny Viking nation, and delves into its particular delicacies—including Hákarl, Iceland's famous fermented shark.

 

 

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia S5E2: The Gang Hits the RoadIt's Always Sunny in Philadelphia S5E2: The Gang Hits the Road

The most difficult part of traveling is, well, the traveling aspect. Once you get where you're going it's bliss—or at least it should be. The Gang being The Gang, though, they never actually make it to their destination. They get sidetracked by the requirements of Dee's bladder, the wonders of Philadelphia's Italian Market (where Charlie tries a pear for the first time and is... underwhelmed to say the least), and the fact that they're all just too damn lazy to do the work of driving. But why leave Philadelphia anyway? At least that's what I keep asking myself.

 

Bones S9E7: The Nazi on the HoneymoonBones S9E7: The Nazi on the Honeymoon

There's nothing more singularly irritating on a vacation than a workaholic. Unless that workaholic is Temperance Brennan and the vacation is her long-awaited honeymoon with new husband Seeley Booth. Why see the sights of the Paris of South America (or Buenos Aires, Argentina, as it's formally known) when you can go to the city morgue and get involved in Nazi hunting? I mean, that's the most romantic getaway I can think of. Besides, how many beaches can you sit on before you yearn to be reunited with your bonesaw?

 

The Simpsons S7E20: Bart on the RoadThe Simpsons S7E20: Bart on the Road

"The Simpsons are going to [place name]," is a timeworn plot device on this past-its-prime series, but this Bart-centric episode from the seventh season will never cease to be gut-bustingly funny. Through a convoluted series of events, Bart, Millhouse, Nelson, and Martin end up with a rented car, and decide to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to see the Sunsphere—which turns out to be a decrepit tower filled with wigs. I'd say something about the destruction of the Sunsphere being a metaphor for what happened to this once-great series, but you know what? Let's just bask in the glory of its heyday.

 

Leah E. Friedman is the editor of SideReel.com. She once traveled to Sweden in February. You can follow her musings on Twitter.

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