As lockdown powers through to keep us safe, the mind is free to wander; either to the neighbouring State to see a loved one, or to a faraway destination that has long been lingering on your travel bucket list. One of the vehicles for this new breed of wanderlust is podcasts, in that we can mentally shut out our yet-to-be-completed household chores for just a few minutes and be as present as we can possibly be.
We can expect high production value across these podcasts, but there are moments where audio can be affected by the environment which we consider the occupational hazards of being a traveller with a mobile office — adding a little ASMR to our own listening experience.
While we are well aware there is a world of travel podcasts out there, here is a selection of five, each catering to various trip-taking personas out there.
Fall back in love with India
The mosaical experience from The Musafir Stories – India Travel Podcast looks at the travelstances of India. The speciality is that it details the stories of travellers of varying experiences, from rookie to expeditioner.
Quirky episodes include ‘The Power Plant Trail with Girish’ which is worth tuning in for its approach to clean-tech. Girish Shivakumar narrates the trail from the Neyveli Lignite mining and power generation plant in Tamil Nadu to Mapro of Mahabaleshwar to Charanka solar power plant in Gujarat. It reminds listeners that travel can have a conscious purpose too, for which many, after lockdown, will bat. Other episodes explore the caves of Meghalaya, the ghost town of Dhanushkodi, and the greenery of Dalhousie — places we do not get to hear about often.
Get real, on a budget
Ideal for the budget-minded traveller, Jackie Nourse’s podcast, JUMP With Traveling Jackie, kicked off in the year 2014. From finding the best deals for inexpensive flights and tips on biking through Europe to how people can pack light for a long trip, this is a fun one to listen to.
‘Long-Distance Running As A Way To Travel’ offers a new way to look at adventuring while staying fit. Nourse, in her 92nd episode, speaks to South African Mike Sewell, who embarked on a running expedition, running the length of the Carretera Austral. The episode offers tips on how to prepare your own running expedition… for when it is safe to go out, that is.
Nourse is not afraid to venture into emotional topics, as she does in her 98th episode ‘The Hardest Part of Travel is Returning Home…’ where she speaks with a family of five who had sold their house and decided to travel around the world for a year. The interview delves deep and addresses how one can keep the travel spirit alive after a huge adventurous trip has passed.
With our new normal being housebound or city-bound, look to this episode for nuggets of wisdom.
Not always perfect…
Probably the most relatable podcast on this list, Not So Bon Voyage (When Sh*t Goes Wrong On The Road) is a peek into a given traveller’s misadventures while they have taken a trip.
Be it car trouble or getting sucked out of a plane, this whole podcast hosted by Jules Hatfield and Christine Williams will have you either shocked or laughing out loud. Episode 22 sees someone getting mistaken for a murderer, while episode 13 is the story of a flight invaded by a … possum. And what travel horror story is complete without a number of digestion problems? Cue episode 10, please!
Not So Bon Voyage does not extend its narrative to bullying; its aim is to reveal that trips do go wrong and human error can happen on a fantasy trip, and that you can look back on your own similar mishaps with a laugh.
Bridge between cultures
Jason Moore’s Zero To Travel is more than six years into its being, offering tips and tricks to those who have never considered travel as an option. It also features interviews with other well-known travellers and hobbyists who have expert views on culture shifts and proactivity. Moore considers the podcast to be ideal for those who want to discover the world on their own terms as a form of enrichment.
Do not miss the following episodes: on the Viking Biking movement in Norway featuring a chat with founder Curtis Rojak, purely because we do miss getting in touch with Nature, on medical tourism which has an interview with Patients Beyond Borders CEO Joe Woodman, which would make for an enlightening listen during the ongoing global healthcare crisis. The podcast does not feature just interviews, but also debates such as ‘is technology ruining your travel experience?’ which reminds us of the beauty of going back to basics.
These episodes are quite lengthy — about an hour or so — so save these for when you really want to kick back, and switch your phone to ‘do not disturb’ for added escapism.
For intellectual heavyweights
For many, travel is fuel for the mind, a way to practically approach academia. Academy Travel’s The Thinking Traveller takes listeners on a deep dive through history and philosophy in the name of armchair travel. Host Jo Litson speaks with academic tour leaders around the globe about iconic places such as Pompeii, Venice and Siberia.
The most recent episode sees Dr Kathleen Olive detailing the history of Japanese gardens and how they have become an art form, as well as comparing them to western gardens. Those fascinated by Pompeii and its brutal history will find the episode ‘Pompeii – Uncovering The Truth’ the one for them.
Think twice before hitting the snooze button on this one… and do not worry, each episode is under 30 minutes. In fact, we picture Ross Geller bookmarking this one.
All the podcasts are available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify