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Slumdog Fever: Movie-Inspired Travel

I called home the other night and my mom asked me, “Have you seen Slumdog Slimebag yet? It’s so good!” If my completely out-of-it parents saw Slumdog Millionaire, it’s official: the whole world has seen it. Let’s just hope they’re better than my mom at remembering the name of the movie.

According to The Economic Times, USA Today, and scores of other news outlets, Mumbai, and particularly its 175-acre shantytown Dharavi, are experiencing a boost in tourism, thanks to the Oscar-winning film. Reality Tours and Travel, which leads guided tours through Dharavi, is even reporting that sales are up 25% since the movie’s release, according to USA Today.

We’ve already discussed the emerging trend of “poorism” or slum tours on the Window Seat and I even chronicled the effect the Twilight movie had on Forks, Washington, but until reading the wealth of articles about Slumdog Millionaire’s tourism bump, I thought I was immune to movie-inspired travel. But given the overwhelming boons to tourism such films as Memoirs of a Geisha, The Lord of the Rings triology, The Sound of Music–heck, even The Karate Kid II–gave to their filming destinations, I began to question how the notion to visit a certain corner of the world pops into my head.

I’m a major French film buff and it would hard to deny that A Bout de Souffle and Jules et Jim did not plant in my subconscious a desire to see la belle France very early in life. And how, after devouring every frame of Roman Holiday, could I not one day find my way to Rome? In fact, for all the exotic locales I have ticked off my list of Places to See Before I Die, I can immediately think of wonderful films set in the destinations that probably first piqued my interest.

Admit it. You’ve indulged in a little movie-inspired travel yourself, haven’t you?


My name: Alison Presley

Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.

How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!

What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannelés, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.

Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.



SLUMDOG SLIMEBAG! Hahaha. That’s amazing.

I’m currently planning a trip to Vanuatu, which many people have told me is where a season of Survivor was filmed! Hoping I don’t have to eat bugs or scale volcanoes…..


Wow. Slumdog Slimebag definitely did not inspire me to want to visit slums, but Milk sure made me appreciate San Francisco! Luckily I just had to step outside the theater.


As a kid, I always wanted to go visit Gilligan’s Island. Little did I realize that the island was a Hollywood fabrication. However, last summer in Hawaii, I did get to see the island where some of the opening credits were shot, which was much more breathtaking in person than on the TV screen.


I’ve always wanted to go to India, but ever since I saw the Darjeeling Limited, my desire to finally make the trip has quadrupled. If and when I go, I want to be able to have enough time to really explore, so it might have to wait until next year. Until then, there’s repeated viewings of the movie to be had.

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