20 Podcasts to Listen to On Your Next Trip
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While travel can be full of adventure and exploring, there is bound to be some downtime while on the move to your next destination. Whether you are on a plane, train or automobile, here are some podcasts to keep you occupied as you travel the world. There are now thousands of podcasts meant to entertain, inform, or distract. Unlike movies, podcasts allow you to watch the scenery as you listen. With so many podcasts, there is bound to be one for you. We have chosen our favorites divided into 5 different categories.
This might have been the podcast to get the most people into podcasts. It has been downloaded more than 175 million times, has won awards, and consistently is ranked in the top charts. If you haven't listened to it already (which you probably have), Serial goes in depth into a story each season. The first being an investigation into a potentially innocent man, Adnan Syed, convicted of murder and the second being on the capture of Bowe Bergdahl. The podcast debates innocence or guilt but also discusses society's influence on each case. The addictive storytelling makes it hard to stop listening and often times the episodes can lead to more questions than answers. There are whole web communities and secondary podcasts for deciphering each episode.
Inspired by Serial, S-Town similarily tells one story over the course of the whole season. This investigative storytelling podcast discusses the story of John B. McLemore and his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama. John is quite the character and implored the host Brian Reed to investigate a suspected murder and coverup. While the story begins as a quest for investigating a murder, the main focus quickly turns to John himself and understanding he as a person. The podcast has interesting insight into a community very unlike my own.
My Favorite Murder
This podcast is nothing like the previous two. The two female hosts each tell the story of one notable murder in each episode. They are not professional journalists and do not always have their stories perfectly researched. However, they are quick, witty, and down to earth. They make you feel like you are hanging out with your friends that keep you laughing. The episodes are long and they often go off on tangents, but they will make the time fly by. Which is exactly what you need when you are trying to survive a 6-hour flight. If you like your true crime podcast with a good dose of comedy mixed in, this is one for you.
This is a weekly true crime podcast that is actually hosted by a professional journalist who is very well-researched. The host, Phoebe Judge, goes in depth into each crime story to paint the broader picture of the criminal and why they committed the act they did. Her voice is incredibly soothing and reels you in almost immediately. The stories the team chooses are unlike those found on other crime podcasts and you find yourself often relating to the people involved.
This American Life
This NPR podcast tackles one theme each week and tells some very diverse stories that all eventually come back to that same theme. Each story is like a miniature audio award-winning documentary. It is wildly engaging and truly remarkable every week. Even topics that you feel like you would have no interest keep you engrossed in the storytelling. If you just listen to one podcast, this should be the one.
While traveling it is often hard to stay up to date on the news back home. The Daily is a short podcast that is released each morning discussing the most important news stories. From the New York Times, the reporting is unbiased and thorough. I listen to it every morning even when not traveling, as it provides me with the news without having to be sucked into negative opinions. Each episode only focuses on one or two events, no extra useless junk.
This podcast is for those with a curious mind. Narrating stories with a diverse range of fascinating topics with storytelling that keeps you absorbed. Some topics may be something you are quite familiar with but stick around because likely the next episode will be mind-blowing. Past topics include CRISPR, why colors look the way they do, country borders, and surviving the apocalypse.
Between the two of us, we got an economics minor and major. Despite neither of us using it, economic thought still has an allure to it. Planet Money is not meant for economists, it is meant for the average person just trying to understand what is going on with money. While it is educational, it does not feel that way. They use real world, often humorous, examples to explain complex theories to help you understand why lowering unemployment isn't bringing increased wages, the effect of tariffs, or many other things going on in the global economy. Money talk does not have to be dull.
This podcast comes from the same people as Planet Money and has a similar feel but at a quicker pace. Each episode is just ten minutes, providing you insight into how businesses and the economy is doing without all of the extra fluff. If you have little interest in economics, but still want to know if the current unemployment numbers are good or bad – this it the podcast for you. It gives you enough information to make you sound knowledgeable when you discuss how the Dow is useless but without boring you.
The book Freakonomics was the reason I got interested in Economics. This podcast, by the same name and hosted by one of the authors, provides me with the same enthusiasm. Each episode tries to uncover the hidden side of a topic not only in Economics but also in pop culture or the news. Over the years, more of their topics have little to do with economics but instead on psychology and social issues. They can often change my outlook on a subject or get me thinking about a problem in a new way.
Along with economics, we studied and are working in science and engineering. However, you do not need to be a scientist to enjoy this podcast. Science Vs takes a controversial topic and details if the science backs up popular opinion. They are not afraid to speak on some highly contentious subjects including circumcision, Sex addiction, Bigfoot, Vaccines, juice cleanses, and GMOs. All the topics that you wanted to research yourself but were overwhelmed with all of the conspiracy stories or unfactual blogs. The host, Wendy Zukerman, has an amazing Australian accent and fun personality.
Ever wonder why people do the things they do? Shankar Vedantam of Hidden Brain finds some of the most interesting psychology and social research and brings it to life for NPR. This show never disappoints. Shankar is so charming and I, weirdly, just love hearing his name being said. I often bring the things I hear from this show in conversations. If you ever hear me say, oh I heard/read __, it means I heard it from Hidden brain.
Two educational Youtubers, CGP Grey and Brady Haran, discuss their lives, their interests, and what is going on in the internet. CGP Grey is an American physicist living in the UK and Brady is an Australian journalist living in the UK. Their episodes can cover plane crashes to vexillology. They focus on a topic each episode but they tend to wander off a lot.
It is a show about design. Often focused on obscure design we often ignore in our day to day life. It is professionally produced and well-researched. They have touched on topics including the I <3 New York slogan, or the Chicago River flowing backward. Not only focused on design, they also go into the designers themselves and how their life influenced their work. Occasionally there is an episode that doesn't interest me, but I still listen every week. Roman Mars' soothing voice cannot be beat.
Twenty thousand Hertz
Essentially 99% Invisible but for sound. They tell the stories behind the world's most interesting and recognizable sounds. It is a fairly new podcast, but so far they have episodes on Siri's voice, ASMR, movie soundtracks, Hamilton and Disney Parks. Twenty thousand hertz got its name from the highest level of the human hearing range.
In this podcast, Malcolm Gladwell re-examines something from the past and sees if the popular notion of that event, person or idea was told right the first time. With his clever use of audio, you can feel like you are being taken back through time and space. This podcast is not only educational but also inspirational. It makes you want to look out for the underdog or recognize your privilege. If you already listen to This American Life, Hidden Brain or Radio Lab, this is another podcast up the same alley.
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
Wow is this a long podcast. It is not released all that often, as I imagine making a 5-hour podcast can take a while. Dan Carlin is an excellent narrator and comes at each topic from a non-historian's perspective. The way he talks about WWI, the Mongols, or the Romans, makes it sound like an exciting work of fiction rather than from a boring history book. His focus is more than just the death counts or the hard facts, but on the drama that unfolds. While this might be a podcast you have to listen to in chunks, you will be dying to get back to it.
My Dad Wrote a Porno
So yes... the name is completely accurate. In this hilarious podcast, Jamie Morton and his two friends read his dad's attempt at erotic fiction. Jamie's dad, who has the pen name Rocky Flintstone, writes about Belinda Blumethal, a fictional businesswoman who works in sales at a Pots and Pans company. I have never laughed more at any movie, TV show or any piece of entertainment in my life. This is one that you will not be able to stop listening to, despite cringing through it all. The humor comes from Rocky Flintstone's lack of basic female anatomy, ignorance on how businesses operate or how humans interact, and absence of a consistent storyline. If I were to rank all of these podcasts, this would be on the top of the list.
Call Your Girlfriend
I can instantly hear the theme song while writing this. Call Your Girlfriend is hosted by two friends who shortly after meeting moved to opposite sides of the country. To keep up their friendship, they talk through this podcast. You feel like you are hanging out with your two incredibly smart, funny, feminist friends. It makes you treasure all of the friendships you have in your life and appreciate everything involved with being a woman.
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Hosted by three brothers (obvious from the title), this podcast always has me laughing. They offer advice on the internet's stupidest questions. They take questions from listeners or find them on Yahoo Answers. It is NSFW, but that is why you have headphones! If your train was delayed or your luggage was lost, listen to one of their episodes, and you will instantly be in a great mood again.
You can listen to podcasts on your phone's native podcast app or the many other podcast players available. We use Overcast, which allows you to adjust the speed or boost the voice of the podcasts. It has so many useful features on an intuitive interface and allows us to listen to podcasts in half the time without missing out on the content. When you are subscribed to so many podcasts, it can be a challenge to listen to them all ... even with so much traveling and long flights.
Comment with your favorite podcasts below!
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