Departures: The Travel Show That Changed My Life

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I was in my third year of university when Departures started airing on the Outdoor Life Network. It was March in Toronto, meaning the weather was kind of abysmal, and even though I was attending lectures at York University my mind was adrift in faraway places. Then these two guys came along and not only revolutionized travel television but also my thoughts on long-term travel.

Departures: The Travel Show That Changed My Life Forever

Meet Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach

What’s the show about?

The show starts out with high school friends Scott and Justin deciding to leave their jobs, homes, and friends behind to go and travel the world for a year. They are that crossroads in life where they’re not quite ready to settle down but they feel like that window of opportunity to explore is closing, and so they embark on a world adventure that is documented by their friend and cameraman Andre Dupuis.

One of the things I love about the show is that these guys aren’t just passing through a destination, rather they base their travels around a web of connections – friends, acquaintances and old classmates. This allows them to dig a little deeper and explore each country beyond what they see in the surface; they go to Jordan for their buddy’s wedding where they get a unique perspective at Jordanian wedding traditions, they meet up with a Japanese friend who shows them that in Tokyo you work hard and party harder, and then they befriend a Brazilian girl who ends up showing them around her country. They follow that trail of connections that ‘makes’ a trip!

I also like that they are realistic when they portray their adventures. Yes, travel has its incredibly highs where you feel like you’re on top of the world, but there are also moments when you hit rock bottom. Relationships fizzle, family falls ill, and shit happens. At points they question whether it was all worth it, but considering they inspired an entire generation to be bold, brave, and get out there, I’d say, yes, YES IT WAS!!!

Departures Wallpaper From Chile

And I have to mention the cinematography. Andre is able to work magic behind the lens and he captures moments that almost seem frozen in time. Some of the landscapes he filmed of Canada’s prairies and New Zealand’s mountains are forever etched in my memory. It makes me want to be a better YouTuber.

If I still haven’t convinced you, then you need to watch the intro for yourself:


How did it change me?

It’s fair to say I had the travel bug long before I watched the first episode. Just while completing my undergrad I managed to travel to India, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, France, England, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany, not to mention smaller trips around North America. I took off during Christmas Break, Reading Week (the Canadian equivalent of Spring Break), and as soon as I was done writing my exams.

My world revolved around travel, going to work so that I could afford more travel, and taking courses in the field of Humanities because if you can’t travel, you might as well be reading about all these amazing places!

However, it never occurred to me that you could travel long-term. I thought those round-the-world tickets were for rich couples going on a 3-month honeymoon or retired people who had saved up for it all their lives.

Departures helped me realize that I wanted my own big adventure too, and I didn’t just want it to last for a couple of weeks.

And so after hitting rock bottom with the post-university blues, I started this blog so I could share my travel experiences, I moved to South Korea to teach for a year, I ended up meeting my husband (who is perhaps even more addicted to travel than I am!), I started a YouTube travel channel (which doesn’t compare with Andre’s cinematography, but is still a lot of fun!), I went on a 15 month backpacking trip, I started travel blogging for a living, and I discovered a new way of life that may not be very conventional but makes me very happy!

So why am I telling you all this?

Because this week the show officially launched on Netflix! I’m sure you can imagine how I’ve been spending my free time…

Departures driving a van in Mongolia

Where did Departures travel?

If you’ve watched the show, then you already know that their 1 year trip went on a lot longer than they had initially anticipated! But if you haven’t, here’s a little sneak peek at what you can expect:

Season 1: Canada (coast to coast), Jordan, India (x2), Ascension Island, Japan (x2), Cook Islands, New Zealand (x2), Thailand, Cambodia, and Canada (pushing north).

Season 2: Morocco, Libya, Brazil (x2), Cuba, Mongolia (x2), Iceland, Zambia, Madagascar, Chile (x2), and Antarctica.

Season 3: Russia (x2), Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea (x2), Ecuador, Ethiopia (x2), Rwanda, Greenland, North Korea (x2), Indonesia (x2), and Australia.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to travel the world, you need to check it out! It might just change your life too.

Departures scenery from New Zealand rugged mountains snowcapped peaks

Have you watched Departures?
What’s your favourite travel show?

Join the Conversation


    1. says: Audrey

      That’s so cool, Andre. I’ll have to check it out. I remember seeing commercials for that show years ago, but I never got around to watching it. By the looks of it, I think I’d enjoy it!

    2. says: River

      If only everyone had a trust fund or rich parents and could just go globe-hopping, what a lovely world this would be. More unity, more understanding, more communication. Alas, most people don’t get to just decide they want to take a whirlwind trip around the world and then get to do it just because they want to.
      There is the option I took when I traveled more in my younger days. Hitching, staying in the woods, gathering food from the forest, classic leather-tramping at its finest. I’m not certain the millennials of today could handle traveling the way I did back in my day or if doing it the way they do they take away even half as much from the experience.
      Hats off to them though, it’s cute that y’all are trying!

  1. says: Renuka

    I love watching travel shows! In fact, travel shows have a major contribution in injecting the travel bug in me. I have never seen Departures, the name sounds familiar though. Will definitely watch it now on Youtube. I love finding inspiration – it may come from any source. My favorite travel shows have been Custom Made by Vir Sanghvi, shows on Fox Life and many other random travel shows.

  2. Ummm I’ve never seen this show??? I’ve heard of it but….
    So lucky me I guess now that it’s readily available for me. Study break? Although that could be trouble, haha.
    That pic of the Soviet van in that field is SO Mongolia it’s not even funny.
    I feel I will like this show just because this is how I like to travel too… my trips are so often based around going somewhere I have some kind of connection… it reveals a more rounded view of a place with much more unique experiences by far.

    1. says: Audrey

      I most definitely recognize the song! 😉 I too really liked the show’s soundtrack – the songs had such a chill, easy going vibe.

  3. says: We Travel Together

    Great post! We really love that tv show, and can watch it over and over again. It’s so inspiring and funny at the same time. Love it!

  4. says: Katie

    I love that show although I only saw it for the first time about 2 years ago when I was living in London. Watching the episode where they are climbing a mountain to a sacred site in Ethiopia blew me away. I knew nothing about that country before that and now I really want to go there!

  5. says: Peta

    I love this show. They still play the repeats here in Aus. I love how it’s not the normal travel show and they explore more than you would see in any typical show. Their adventure to Jordan blew me away and I try and catch an episode whenever I can.

  6. says: Marie @ a Montrealer Abroad

    I love Departures. I loved watching them interact around the world and see all those magnificent sites. I also love Scott’s diving show, which aired after Departures. What a fun team!

  7. I’ve never heard of the show but in the last week or so, I’ve heard of the 2 boys LOL! My favourite programme is the Travel Show from the BBC or various fly on the wall travel documentaries from the BBC & Channel 4. In Germany, I watch a show called “GoodBye Deutschland” & “Die Auslander” (The Foreigner), and I sometimes watch a travel programme from Switzerland on YouTube!

  8. says: Sadaf

    Thanks for this post Audrey! Loooove watching travel shows and had never heard of Departures before reading your post. As soon soon as I finished reading it I downloaded all the seasons. Now am hooked for the past couple of days watching it. And man! I think its going to be one of my favorite shows ever! Yeah, right up there! Thanks!

    Keep your curiosity on!

  9. says: Sid

    I seriously want to watch departures now. But I have one complain! Why do travel bloggers rarely visit Nepal? Nepal is the most diverse country in terms of culture, customs and geography and it is just slightly bigger than New York! Anyways, I am 22 and I also hope to pick my things and get going on a travel adventure in a couple of years when i have collected enough money. Wish me luck!

  10. This is amazing! Thanks for sharing, I hadn’t heard of it before. My favourite, FAVOURITE, show was Pilot Guides (previously called Globe Trekker), which featured the English guide Ian Wright. Ian came and visited my university, shared travel stories, his watercolours that he drew along the way and a story I will never forget about eating preserved shark meat. As if I wasn’t already excited, the experience of seeing my travel idol in person lit a fire under my butt and the next summer I embarked on a round the world trip for four months.

    Can’t wait to start watching a new travel show. I wonder where it will take me next…

  11. says: Gearin Doyle

    There was another travel show on that network at the same time Word Travels and it’s really great too. The music and cinematography coupled with great writing made it a long time favourite of ours

  12. Eek! Second comment because I remembered my other favourite ‘travel’ show. Did you ever see The Long Way Round or Long Way Down with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman? They ride motorbikes (in the LWR) from London to New York City. Such an incredible show.

  13. says: jennifer

    I had never heard of this show before. I just got Netflix last week. I saw this show and I am binge watching it. I guess I got really lucky and got my free month trial at the right time!

  14. says: Nhien Nguyen

    Thanks for recommending this series. I’ve been watching them the whole week and get really inspired by the trip they took. There is still a long way to go to make my little dream come true but I definitely make it happen 🙂

  15. says: Ryan

    Very cool, another travel show I’ll need to check out for sure!!! I got hooked on travel and offbeat destinations because of Anthony Bourdain really, and the way he is brutally honest about his past and also visiting very misunderstood countries.

  16. I recently took a trip to Vietnam after watching a Top Gear episode featuring a motorbike ride from HCMC to Hanoi. The show is less about travel and more about cars but they do some traveling and when they do, they don’t typically do the touristy stuff. Worth checking out if you haven’t already. Quite entertaining…

  17. says: Rashaad

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Departures – I’m not sure if we get the show in the U.S. Maybe favorite TV show is GlobeTrekker. I’ve dreamed of being a presenter for that show – but I don’t know if I have the personality to succeed on TV.

  18. says: Jen

    Love this show – the duo is fantastic. I hope they get Season 3 on Netflix soon (or I’ll end up with the DVDs). I wouldn’t be surprised seeing a Netflix Original series of theirs in the future.

  19. says: Solomon

    Amazing the level of inspiration one can get from travel shows. I especially get a lot of inspiration not only to travel but also write about travel from the National Geographic travel shows.

  20. says: Ella

    Great post and I am so in awe of how it inspired you! I teach online so could do this on the road but my husbands job is settled in one place, I just need to persuade him to change that and I hope one day we shall be off too! Congratulations at living your life to the max! 🙂

  21. says: Dustin

    I discovered this show almost by accident. I had been researching backpacking and travel. I had grown up traveling the USA in an RV with my family on any breaks we could get. Even just long weekends. By the time I was 18 I had visited nearly all of the states. After years of not traveling or even camping, I started getting anxious for some adventure and escape. This show gave me that internal push to really just jump in and have fun. Finally getting my backpacking gear together I just started going on long weekend treks through the Colorado backcountry. I have seen season 1-2 4 times now. I just need to buy it so I can see season 3. 🙂

  22. says: Emily

    Nice post! I am also a big fan! I have done quite a bit of travelling in Latin America. Scott and Justin don’t do too much there in Departures, although there are a few episodes there, but the overall personal growth that they have over the course of three seasons, as well as the incredible things they get to see has re-ignited an insatiable need to travel for me that had been dormant for a couple of years while I’ve been trying to finish grad school. I hope to take a summer on the road to celebrate finishing my PhD next year 🙂 Seriously though, the show is amazing and the cinematography is amazing–Andre (the cameraman) is incredible!

  23. I love the series, Departures. I never tire of it, and watch repays easily. Just watch Rwanda again, and I loved how they caught the boys’ emotion so well. I also enjoy that they do not edit out when they do silly things. I remember one clip of them climbing the side of an active volcano and their are saying that they were probably breathing the worst, sulphurous air possible. I can’t remember, but I think it was Vietnam or Cambodia when Justin offered to enter the boxing ring. They are not arrogant and they represent Canada well.

  24. says: John

    I feel like Im reading myself right now, this is EXACTLY what happened to me. This show inspired me to do exactly what they did because I believe that if they can do it I can do it. I am currently saving up for a year trip through Asia/Europe(30 countries)! I wish I could post the link but I just decided this idea about 1 week ago and will start my trip 2018.

  25. Departures came late to me. I first caught the travel bug watching Ian wright on lonely planets (later pilot guides, later globe trekker). I didn’t even know one could be a backpacker before that.

    So many nights I sat home waiting for the massive chill I would get when he sound came on and the dude drawing in the sand.

    Then came Departures. I am a fellow Canadian and Scott is one of my Facebook friends and modern heroes. What they did with a small crew and huge personality blew me away. It was so rich and immersive and… Important. And that is why people want to see it come back. Descending is cool, its neat but Departures I think hits you right in the soul.

    So in two months my own travel blog/show will be launching. I won’t be the talent, my girlfriend who is a lovely, scrappy, beautiful courageous person will be. I’ll just be the guy hauling the gear and recording the footage… I love Lonely planet for this because.. Departures was always about the dynamic between justin and Scott and the place. A triune. Lonely planet was always about single traveller and the place. A little less engaging its true. That extra person seems to make the dynamic sing but… You work with what you got.

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