I first stumbled across Departures on my Netflix dashboard, hidden in the depths of the Travel & Adventure Documentaries category. I frequent this category to feed my desire to escape from the confines of school and academics, and instead travel and see the world. Before long, the series had succeeded in at least partially quenching that thirst.
Departures documents the journey of three young men who leave their conventional lives behind to travel the world. Their travels take them to the corners of the world, including North Korea, Ascension Island, and the far north of their native Canada, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones too.
Departures is unlike traditional travel shows. The beauty of the series lies in its delicate balance between documenting the trio’s destinations, new experiences, and personal struggles over the course of the year.
This balance is established from the start, with awe-inspiring visual landscapes in the title sequence. The whimsical background audio is overlaid with the travellers narrating why they have chosen to travel the world and the sacrifices they have made to do so.
Soon enough, you develop a deep bond and love not only for the destinations they visit, but for the men behind the show themselves. Scott, the resident dad, leads the three, making sure that they don’t get into too much trouble along the way. Justin, the goofiest of the three, provides lighthearted charm while Andre’s brief and infrequent cameos from behind the camera offer humorous snark but also remind viewers of the intimacy of their travels. At the end of the day, their grand and beautiful excursions are really just three guys filming themselves while having fun.
Over the course of their three years of travel you become immersed in their friendship. You feel like — or at least want to be — the fourth bro taking part in their foreign nightclub escapades, attempts to eat exotic foods, and hikes through remote destinations.
The show simultaneously subdues my wanderlust and makes it scream even louder. It will satisfy your appetite for adventure momentarily, but not before sending you into an obsessive research spiral for the gear that you’ll need and the places that you’ll visit during your very own post-graduation backpacking trip.