Podcasts are the ultimate travel companion. Whether you want to get gripped by a psychological drama with a Hollywood cast, nerd up on unbelievable facts, learn a brand new language or just have a good old-fashioned belly-laugh, there’s a podcast out there for every traveller.
In Season 1 of our very own podcast, The Rough Guide to Everywhere (iTunes; Soundcloud), we met adventurers, comedians and eccentrics from around the globe. We went off-road in the Scottish highlands, met the eco-pioneers of Latin America and even took in the view from outer space.
As we gear up for Season 2, we share nine other podcasts that will bring colour, inspiration and laughs to those occasional lonely moments on the road.
1. If you’re a first-timer: Serial (series one)
For tens of millions of people, Serial was a deliciously addictive gateway drug into the world of podcasts. In the first series, launched back in 2014, investigative journalist Sarah Koenig delved into the mysterious 1999 murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee. It’s a true story, narrated with flair and compassion that will leave you yearning for answers.
If you like this, try: This American Life
2. If you like eavesdropping on funny conversations: The Adam Buxton Podcast
Dr Buckles is the undisputed duke of British podcasting; only he can make you laugh and cry with equal velocity in the space of one episode. His intimate, honest interviews leave you feeling like you’re listening in on a chat between old friends – which is often the case; Richard Ayoade, Louis Theroux and Sarah Pascoe are a few pals who have appeared on the show.
If you like this, try: old episodes of Adam and Joe’s BBC 6 Music Podcast
3. If you’ve ever thought about escaping to a desert island: Desert Island Discs
Simply one of the best podcasts out there, regardless of whether you’re on a desert island or not. In each episode, host Kirsty Young asks guests (or ‘castaways’) to choose the eight records they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. The BBC has put thousands of archive episodes online, with Louis Armstrong (1968), John Peel (1990) and Yoko Ono (2007) being a few of the landmark interviews.
If you like this, try: anything else by BBC Radio 4
4. If you need entrepreneurial inspiration: How I Built This
Travel’s a good time to reflect on things and make some big life decisions you’ll probably never see out. If you need a further kick up the backside, How I Built This interviews the entrepreneurs behind companies such as Airbnb, Instagram and Vice, asking them how they came about setting up their multi-million dollar businesses. If this doesn’t inspire you to create that new app, magazine or blog, nothing will.
If you like this, try: TED Radio Hour
5. If you want a ‘series fix’, but don’t want to pack a laptop: Homecoming
There have been a load of fiction podcasts over the last couple of years, mainly crime or sci-fi based, testing the water in what has traditionally been a non-fiction format. Many fall short of the mark, but Homecoming could signal a turning point. Its Hollywood cast features David Schwimmer, Oscar Isaac and Catherine Keener. As gripping as any Netflix original.
If you like this, try: Crimetown
6. If you want to learn a new language: Coffee Break podcasts
It’s thought that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in another culture – “you’ll just pick it up naturally”, they say. True for some. But if you’re struggling to make progress, the Coffee Break podcasts are a brilliant helping hand when it comes to picking up new languages. The episodes are short and fun – don’t knock it till you’ve tried.
If you like this, try: Coffee Break is the best on the market.
7. If you want something to make you laugh – and cringe: My Dad Wrote a Porno
For most people, if your dad wrote a piece of erotic literature and handed it to you, you would burn it, scatter the ashes at sea and never speak of it again. Not the case for Jamie Morton. In My Dad Wrote a Porno he reads his father’s masterpiece Belinda Blinked, chapter by chapter, with mates Alice and James. Whatever you do, take a levels check before you listen to make sure the person sat/sleeping beside you can’t hear what you’re indulging in.
If you like this, try: Romesh Ranganathan’s Hip Hop Saved my Life
8. If you don’t mind crying a bit on holiday: The Moth
The format of The Moth is pretty simple. True stories, told without notes, to live audiences that are standing only. They frequently host live Story Slam events across the US, and indeed sometimes around the world, so if you enjoy listening to these eloquent, heart-twinging stories, it’s worth checking out their website to see if there’s an event going on wherever you’re travelling.
If you like this, try: Love + Radio
9. If you want to impress new travel friends with facts: No Such Thing as a Fish
The “QI” elves – the team who come up with all the bizarre, unbelievable facts for the TV show – host this brilliantly irreverent podcast. After listening to just one episode, you’ll be an expert on things such as aeroplane-chasing bumblebees and toe-wrestling championships.
If you like this, try: Stuff You Should Know
Season 2 of The Rough Guide to Everywhere is coming soon. Make sure you’re subscribed so you never miss an episode.