10 Best Podcasts for the Plane and Other Long Trips
Most people I know dread a long-haul flight, overnight bus ride, or seemingly endless drive. We all make the best of getting from one place to another, though it can suck when traveling on the cheap. Before a trip like this I typically plan how I’ll keep myself busy during the journey ahead. This used to include downloading movies or shows on Netflix, filling up my e-reader, or buying a magazine at the Duty Free. Not anymore. Podcasts have been a lifesaver. If you’re late to join the scene, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. There are podcasts for nearly every topic and niche, it’s just a matter of discovering what styles and voices keep you yearning for the next episode to drop. Let’s jump right into the list!
Here’s some of my favorite podcasts for the plane to help you pass the time.
Up and Vanished
I have to admit, I’m obsessed with true crime podcasts. To have a list with some variety, I only added one (shout out to Serial though). I started Up and Vanished on a long bus trip and quickly became consumed with the story and shocked at the turn of events that unfolded. By the end, I felt connected, like I knew the people in the podcast.
Up and Vanished covers a different cold case each season and releases updates when new developments occur. The weekly episodes utilize interviews with those closest to the victim and the opinions of legal experts, psychologists, and members of law enforcement to try and get to the bottom of things. There is also a very active hotline and forum to discuss anything that pops up as the story evolves. And trust me, everyone has a ton of theories and questions after listening! I doubt we’ll ever have all the answers or know exactly what happened to these people, but that’s exactly what keeps listeners eager for more.
An email caught the eye of reporters at This American Life. It had the subject line “John B McLemore lives in Shittown Alabama.” In John’s email he asked them to investigate a murder in his rural hometown of Woodstock, which he calls S-Town. John’s incredible intelligence and kooky personality kept me keen to hear more of his mysterious story. There are so many shocking twists and turns in the series and I was actually sad when the podcast ended.
NPR’s episodic podcast, Invisibilia makes you question many of the invisible forces surrounding daily life. Does expectations of others influence us? How does innately putting everything into categories define us? Scientific evidence and storytelling help discuss questions like these. Some episodes will keep you thinking for days, which isn’t a bad thing for a long flight.
This American Life
It’s a bit cliché to add to the list since This American Life is one of the most highly acclaimed and most downloaded podcasts of all time, but I couldn’t help it. The public radio program and podcast is hard to explain without listening to it first. This American Life takes an in-depth look at a different theme each week through the stories of real people. 2.5 million listeners tune in to the one-hour episodes which cover topics like people who were switched at birth or the struggles faced by soldiers returning home. The program has been around since 1995 so they have hundreds of archived episodes to keep you entertained.
If you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a colony on Mars (which is supposedly not too far in the future), this podcast is for you. The Habitat which launched in April 2018 follows six volunteer scientists who lived inside a dome in Hawaii that simulated the environment of the red planet—yup, sorry to let you down but no one left earth. Real audio diaries from the volunteers are used to tell the story of the yearlong NASA experiment. The integrity to the mission and the evolution of the volunteer’s emotions and relationships with one another makes this a great listen. For example, the participants had to wear spacesuits when exiting the dome, eat freeze-dried meals, and have 20-minute delays in communication—talk about frustration.
Go: The Travel Podcast
Host Alex Cwalinski’s podcast Go is for anyone who wants to hear about the world’s amazing places and learn some interesting history too. There’s dozens of episodes that cover everything from hidden gems in Cuba and Star Wars filming locations, to secrets about famous destinations like the Vatican. Download this podcast if you want to start exploring more of the incredible world we live in without leaving your chair.
Each hour-long episode of Family Ghosts unravels a fascinating mysterious person who impacted a family for generations. The first episode dives into the host’s own tale of a long lost grandmother who was a jewel thief and ended up ruining the family’s reputation. After a while, the series starts to make you think that your own crazy family secrets really aren’t that insane.
This audio drama follows Helen during her new job as an operator for a virtual assistant similar to Siri. Users have no idea that real people are behind Sandra’s impressive abilities. The series is a bit slow and ends quire abruptly, but raises relevant questions about technology and privacy. All seven episodes of Sandra were released earlier this year and was so popular that it will be developed into a T.V. show. Kristen Wiig, Ethan Hawke, and Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat play characters on the show.
Wolverine: The Long Night
This brand new scripted podcast from Marvel launches tomorrow and follows, you guessed it Wolverine. Fans of the mutant are eager to see if this comic book crossover will live up to the hype. Investigators are searching for answers to a few mysterious deaths in rural Alaska. Richard Armitage from The Hobbit convincingly voices Logan.
Lovers of sci-fi and sarcasm will have a blast with Bubble. The story’s fictional Portland-esque metropolis has alien monsters lurking right outside the city’s protective bubble. That’s where the main characters come in, a group of monster hunters. The producers employ allegory and humor to create the podcast’s unique universe, a hipster dystopian gig economy.
My husband flies a lot. He will love this! Thank you!