Let’s talk Planet Earth. If you know anything about me, you know I very obviously…
Podcasts are the real lifesaver for any traveler whether you’re going solo or packing up your whole family in a car for a cross-country road trip! We’re really in the golden age of podcasting because there’s something for every interest out there and you can easily download a ton to keep offline for long flights! My family and I love listening to a huge range of podcasts, and we always learn something new. Below are some of our favorites from travel to science to history and beyond.
Podcasts for Travel Inspiration
1. Atlas Obscura
I love the Atlas Obscura website—all about the world’s hidden (and often weirdest) places. Now you can find bite-sized audio versions on their podcast of the same name. Host Dylan Thuras takes listeners on an audio journey to discover new and hidden places. A favorite? An exploration of Catalina Island’s bison herd. Yes, you read that right!
2. Women Who Travel
Like the name suggests, this podcast is all about celebrating the many women who have sought travel and adventure through history. Host Condé Nast Traveler editor, Lale Arikoglu, shares with listeners all sorts of unique tales both and often has the very subjects on to share their stories.
3. Let’s Go Together Podcast
Kellee Edward’s Travel + Leisure podcast features diverse voices sharing their travel experiences and inspiring others to explore the world. She is a good friend of mine, and her interview style highlights conversations I’ve been missing. The podcast is no longer updated, but the backlog is still a great listen.
4. Everything Everywhere
My husband loves this show from travel expert Gary Arndt. Gary actually has three podcasts: This Week in Travel, The Global Travel Conspiracy, and Everything Everywhere. Everything Everywhere is great in the sense that it’s a short and sweet lesson about interesting people, places, and things from around the world and throughout history. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, history, science, geography, and culture.
5. Stuff You Missed in History Class
For me, travel is about being in the moment. However, learning about a place’s past always enhances the experience. That’s why I love Stuff You Missed in History Class. The episodes do a deep-dive into history’s most interesting events and people, and with hundreds (thousands?) of episodes logged, chances are wherever you’re traveling next is represented somewhere in those archives.
6. American History Hit
Don Wildman is a fellow Travel Channel host and friend, and his knowledge of the subject matter makes him an inquisitive and excellent interviewer. Twice weekly on American History Hit, he explores different facets of our past to help us understand the United States we have today. My favorite episode has to be, “The Battle of Midway and Barbie: German Sex Doll to American Icon.”
Plug in the country you’re visiting and see what episodes pop up about it. I think it’s always fun to get some historical background on a destination, and often you can find some interesting episodes in podcasts you might not think of as travel podcasts.
Favorite Ongoing Shows
7. Start Here
There are a lot of daily news options, but I like the little bit of extra flair that host Brad Mielke brings to Start Here. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on current events without getting sucked into all the other distractions on your phone. Press play and let someone else tell you the news.
8. The Simple Sophisticate
This long-running podcast from blogger and author, Shannon Ables, is all about how to elevate your daily life with an average person’s salary. It’s just a great podcast for when you need a reminder to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. She gets a lot of inspiration from French living, and each episode ends with a lovely “petit plaisir.” I’ve gotten a lot of great recommendations from those petits plaisirs!
9. The Daily
The New York Time’s daily deep dive into a hot topic, with fascinating interviews from those affected by current events. It’s a personal approach to delivering the news, which I really love.
You’d be surprised at how many “ologies” exist in the English language. For the last six years, humorist and science correspondent Alie Ward has explored a number of scientific studies with experts in those fields. From the more popular ologies like paleontology to the more obscure like mycology, you’re sure to learn something new and intriguing.
11. Science Vs.
This is another fun science podcast hosted by Australian-American science journalist Wendy Zukerman. Each episode tackles a specific topic in the zeitgeist and sifts through all the research to share what the actual science says. She originally got the idea from one of Goop’s crazy claims, and has been doing this since 2015, so you know there’s a topic or two for everyone.
12. On Being
I started listening to this show on the radio at 6:00 AM when I was waking up early to feed my then babies. It’s a thought-provoking hour about what it means to be a human being in all our spiritual, physical messiness. I always feel really great after listening to it.
13. Sounds Like a Cult
Ever look at something popular in today’s culture and think, “Is this a cult?” Then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this podcast! Co-hosts Isa Median and Amanda Montell explore all sorts of modern trends from airline miles to Soulcycle to self-help to see if they’re a modern day cult or simply something a lot of people love.
14. Modern Love
Heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, stories of love, loss and redemption. This audio version of the popular New York Times column of the same name features notable personalities reading the popular columns. At the end of each episode, the hosts interview the original essayists to discuss post-column life.
15. Revisionist History
Malcolm Gladwell does such a great job of finding interesting stories. On this podcast, he re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time. Spoiler alert: we rarely do!
Shameless is a great podcast for anyone who loves a little celebrity gossip. Or as their tagline says, it’s a place “for smart people who love dumb stuff.” While they do have weekly celeb gossip updates, they also have deep-dive series where they take a moment to re-look at huge cultural moments from the past through a modern lens. Some of the subjects really brought me back!
17. Dolly Parton’s America
I think it’s fair to say America is pretty divided. And yet… one of the few things everyone still seems to agree on is Dolly Parton—but why? That simple question lead host Jad Abumrad to take on a deeply personal, historical, and musical rethinking of one of America’s great icons in this fantastic podcast.
18. Imagined Life
I really enjoy the premise of Imagined Life. Each episode details the life of someone famous both historically and in the present day with one caveat – you will not know who they’re talking about until the very end. Not every subject is well loved or even a “good person,” but you’ll recognize something human and even relatable in all their stories. This is a particularly great one for group road trips since you play a guessing game while listening.
19. The Dropout
Binge alert! This series tells the wild and unbelievable story of Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos, a blood-testing technology that she claimed would revolutionize the medical industry. You will not believe the things this company got away with as their founder flew closer and closer to the sun.
Love history? This five-episode series from the NYT is a must. Dropped on the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship landing on American shores, 1619 dissects the legacy of slavery in the United States. You will learn a lot.
21. Wind of Change
There’s no shortage of conspiracy theories about the Central Intelligence Agency. But this one is really out there…. Or is it? The premise: The C.I.A. orchestrated the writing of “Wind of Change,” a power ballad by the German heavy metal band Scorpions as part of a covert campaign to undermine the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sounds crazy, but there might be something there.
If You Have Kids…
22. David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast
My kids love this podcast, and I love how fun it has made classical music for them. Over ten episodes, British comedian and childrens’ book author entertains with stories of all sorts of classical music subjects from Beethoven to ballet. It’s incredibly entertaining, and I’d recommend it even if you don’t have kids!
23. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Though the title says “for Rebel Girls,” boys and adults will love these stories, too. These 20-minute-ish episodes featuring narration about the lives of inspiring women are a good listen for kids ages six and up and for grown-ups, too. You’ll learn about notable women in history, like Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, and Celia Cruz.
24. Six Minutes
It’s a fast-paced fictional story (six to 10 minutes per episode) that will grab the attention of both kids and adults. When the Anders family finds an 11-year-old girl called Holiday floating in icy Alaskan waters with no memory of who she is, things start getting…. weird. Superpowers, robots, and remote islands—all the makings of a family-friendly action-adventure mystery.
25. WOW in the World
Kids and grownups will love this NPR podcast from hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz. You’ll hear stories about the latest news in science, technology, and innovation. Stories that give kids hope, agency and make us all say “WOW”!
26. Brains On
This radio show/podcast that takes kid-submitted science questions and answers them with the help of experts. For example, why do we have crushes? Is time travel possible? Do dogs know they’re dogs? The result is a fun show that’s as silly as it is educational.
What are your go-to podcasts? Share in the comments!