Vacation vicariously with these must-see summer travel films

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Didn't get away this summer? These videos let you vacation vicariously.
Didn't get away this summer? These videos let you vacation vicariously.
Photo: Stefanie Magnolia/Vimeo

Vacation films used to be something to fear. The blurry Super 8 home movie from the lake or the two-hour slide show of the neighbor’s trip to the Badlands would quickly put us to sleep (although we might have preferred death).

But these days, anyone can shoot and edit their vacation films with cinematic flair thanks to the latest smartphones and software that gives us tools that once required a film school degree. Just look at these stunning videos and you’ll see state-of-the-art summer memories, circa 2015.

Not interested in someone else’s vacation fun? I wasn’t either, but the Vimeo films below left me pleasantly surprised and, at times, mesmerized. Some of these films display great feeling and intimacy — and will leave you a little melancholy that summer will soon end.

Sardegna by Stefanie Magnolia

Sardinia, an island off the west coast of Italy, is beautiful. But the scenery is not what touched me in this film. Stefanie Magnolia’s Sardegna is really about the love language of the filmmaker and her boyfriend or husband (not clear which).

These two love each other, and their hearts are clearly singing not only because they are in a beautiful place but because they get to share it with each other. Sweet and intimate, the filmmaker’s final product — scored with a touching song — is like reading a love letter. Shot with iPhone 5s and 6.

Little Girl in Pink (a travel film) by iggy_tardust (Asad)

Another couple, this one married and clearly in love, live at the heart of this film as they record their adventures traveling through Germany and Austria. Set to a Slash song, it feels like a fun and frenetic music video.

While Little Girl in Pink is not as obviously sweet as Sardegna, you can tell the couple had a blast — and why not? They’ve each found the ideal companion with whom to walk through this world.

“I wanted to document what we saw, how we saw it and how we’d like to remember it,” writes filmmaker iggy_tardust. Shot on iPhone 5s and a Galaxy S4, then stitched together in iMovie with some color grading done in MovieLooks.

The weekenders by Tom Jacobs

This is what a lake vacation film should look like. The weekenders, Tom Jacobs sets an excursion to Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, to a great party song.

He also sets his iPhone 6 to 240 fps, capturing dancing, diving and splashing in slow motion. He edited the film entirely from his phone, yet this too feels like a well-produced music video.

Dusk Up North by Hankins

At 30 seconds, Hankin’s Dusk Up North is the shortest film on this list. It’s a quick way to reset your brain and let go of some stress.

Shot in Hyperlapse on an iPhone 6, you see 30 seconds on Lake Michigan just after sunset, with rolling waves and rushing clouds. Slowly breath in and slowly release the tension.

The Surf by Brian Whitcomb

The only explanation given for Brian Whitcomb’s The Surf is “two buds taking in the waves after a storm.” The film starts with two boys standing still — one looking fearless, the other smiling — as the camera moves in close and past their sun-drenched faces.

From there, it’s just a couple of kids on boogie boards, but the film still feels like someone looking back at a moment in time that is being held onto tightly for fear it will fade away. Shot on iPhone 6 and edited in Cameo.

Summer Road Trip — Oregon by Max Rhulen

Two friends packed their bikes into a truck and headed to Oregon for some adventurous trail riding. GoPro cameras mounted on their helmets bring you along for the ride in Max Rhulen’s Summer Road Trip — Oregon. My favorite scenes are of the two guys, their ball caps on backward, floating in the water with beers in hand and motioning to a nearby passing train for the engineer to blow the horn.