The plot usually means the White Woman will find love. It will usually be the first attractive native from that area who talks to her. It was as if these men were just waiting for them to take a vacation and need a tour guide. In the most recent addition of this subgenre, Julia Roberts fell for Javier Bardem after she appropriately ate and prayed.
Most of the times, the tour guide just does this out of the goodness of his heart. Sure Gregory Peck had ulterior motives to lead Audrey Hepburn on her Roman Holiday, but ultimately just accepted it and knew it was all about love. During their tour the camera goes all out for its wide luscious shots of oceans, landmarks, and cities. This allows the audience members to live vicariously through the characters as they are usually in awe.
Now I’ve noticed that the less motivation the White Woman has, the better her vacation will be. Katherine Hepburn goes to Venice simply to have a vacation in Summertime so her trip is smooth sailing. In When in Rome, Kristen Bell travels to visit her sister’s wedding and ends up creating a curse that has random men fall in love with her. Same with Leap Year. Amy Adams had some slightly sexist agenda to cross Ireland to propose to Adam Scott, but she should have just been focusing on Matthew Goode. They’re creating too much plot for themselves! Just let the perfect vacation come to them.
Now most of the holidays are trips to Europe. My guess is because of two reasons: they speak English in a lot of those places and if they don’t, they have spectacular accents. Shirley Valentine went to Greece, Diane Lane ended up Under the Tuscan Sun, Carey Mulligan took a subplot to Paris to further An Education and Cameron Diaz spent her White Woman Holiday in England.
Sometimes the White Women choose to go elsewhere, but the films never seem to have the same effect. Fans and critics didn’t take it too well with Sex and the City 2 when the White Women quartet went to Morocco. I think Romancing the Stone is a fun movie, but Kathleen Turner ended up having her life threatened quite a bit during her stint in Colombia before she could end up with Michael Douglas. Scarlett Johansson went to Japan in Lost in Translation and ended up with…Bill Murray? Sorta. Not really. The point is stick with Europe, according to Hollywood.
At the end, they go back home full of happiness and culture. Or they don’t. They go back home and realize that cities and friends and jobs are stupid and retreat back to Europe and into the arms of some guy. Then the movie slowly fades to credits overlooking yet another beautiful landscape just before the White Woman can realize how adorably impractical she’s being.