5 Must-Listen Podcasts For Travelers
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Poor ‘lil podcasts. Those glorious little nuggets of thought expelled into the web-o-sphere by the intelligent, the hilarious and, more often than not, the unfortunate obnoxious population. Like blogs, we love them and we hate them. But we put up with their profuse lameness because they are one of the last morsels of free new-media available.
With the New York Times limiting non-subscribers to a paltry 20 gratis online articles per month, how are travelers supposed to fill their long layovers, endless bus rides, and heck, converse intelligently over current events with new foreign friends? While podcasts have the potential to be awesome, frankly, a lot are simply gibberish; unworthy of the time they take to download, let alone listen to. For voyagers wishing to burrow through the tunnels of podcast drivel in search of the grooviest download, I offer the following five brilliant podcasts.
1) The Moth
A truly sterling organization, The Moth features true stories told live without notes. One or two stories are featured per episode with tales being uproariously comedic, endearingly inspiring or achingly sad. The Guardian correctly described it as “brilliant and quietly addicting.” True, as the podcast certainly makes an excruciating overnight train ride pass more quickly. The Moth accepts submissions, so feel free to propose your own story.
2) This American Life
Whether the listener be American or not, This American Life is a program that essentially explores human relationships through a common weekly theme. The hour-long podcast is broken up into three, four or five acts, and features topics like “The Psychopath Test,” where staff members take the only viable exam that discerns whether or not a person, specifically prisoners, are psychopaths. Spoiler: No employee of the award-winning podcast comes close to being psychologically insane, but the worried banter prior to the results is quite amusing.
3) Stuff You Should Know
Have you ever wondered how witchcraft works, or how to start your own country? Maybe you’ve been pining to understand why we have never found Amelia Earhart. Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are the delightfully nerdy, yet charismatic personalities, behind Stuff You Should Know, a podcast hosted by the Discovery Channel.
Listen in as they discuss the science behind a smorgasbord of topics with a scientifically analytical and approachable voice. An enticing tip: The information gleaned from Stuff You Should Know is exceptional fodder for situations in which breaking the ice is essential. A potential scenario: “Wow!” says cute Australian male at trendy hostel gathering, “I never knew how organ donation works!”
4) Stuff You Missed in History Class
Yet another podcast from the Discovery Channel, the lovely Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty explain history’s quirky tidbits that are vacant from school textbooks. Topics such as historical animals, notable shipwrecks and real-life Amazons are scrutinized with pinpoint accuracy. History aficionados beware, these hostesses will impress with their precise and adorably dry humor.
5) Loudlit.org: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Traveling with a book is a Catch-22. On one hand you must have a tale with you so your travels possess a parallel narration, but all the good books are stupidly heavy, taking up valuable backpack real estate. What’s more, so often the book-swapping shelves at hostels are burdened with tattered, moldy novels that have experienced just a tad too much love in their years.
Though many audiobook podcasts are available for free on iTunes, Loudlit.org offers whole novel downloads of several notable classics. Go with Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, undoubtedly the story that prodded that dashing wanderlust spirit in the first place.
[iPod on the train to Venice by KellyisinGermany/Flickr]
About the Author
Jenna Blumenfeld, (Jenna Ogden Blumenfeld when she’s in really big trouble) hails from the wee state of Connecticut. Although her childhood dream of becoming a bug doctor — with a specialization in ladybugs — has gone unfulfilled, she is content writing about travel, cuisine and culture. A vegetarian, she currently resides in the food hub of Boulder, Colorado. Read more of her food-centric writing at NewHope360.com.