If you’re planning an all-out staycation at home, we’ve thought about what a family might do on vacation in real life… eat, drink, sleep, go to the spa, lounge on the beach, hike a mountain, or visit a museum. When you can’t do these things IRL, living vicariously through a podcast is the next best thing! So we’ve rounded up 7 podcasts to listen to on your staycation vacation, reviewed by Vurbl.
#1 – Life’s A Holladay
Hey, ya’ll! The Life’s A Holladay podcast is “The Healthy Living Podcast with Style.” One part spa-hopping, one part tasty, healthy recipe sharing, and one part fabulous fashionista, Life’s A Holladay takes listeners around the globe in search of fun, beauty, and style. While listeners can live vicariously through host Candy Holladay as she visits and dishes on her favorite spas and treatments, she also provides loads of tips for at-home spa parties and DIY beauty recipes, complete with on-point PJs and bangin’ accessories!
The Host: Host Candy Holladay once had a dream of being a spa spy, living at and reporting on exotic resorts. When that didn’t pan out, she fell back on her innate talent of being uber-stylish, curating vintage clothing, and becoming a fashion stylist. Now, she shares her passion with fans on her podcast and tv shows, inviting listeners along, “like we’re on a styling spa holiday every day!” Bonus: if you listen to the podcast from Holladay’s website, not a listening app, she links everything discussed on each episode, including images (check out the last episode link below for summertime, at-home spa tips, and her hair and skin “Primsicles” recipe!).
The Guests: For the most part, Holladay hosts the show solo, but she occasionally invites guests on the show, such as Golden Door Spa’s head chef, Curtis Cooke when she visited the facility in San Marcos, California.
Why You Have To Listen: Missing out on a spa day might be the saddest part of missing your vacation this summer, but not when you’re hanging with Holladay! Her spunky personality and entertaining and knowledgable commentary on the spa and fashion world is inspiring. It’s like you’re tagging along with your BFF on a personalized spa vacay. If you’re staycationing with your teen daughter this summer, Life’s A Holladay is a must-listen together.
Listen to Life’s A Holladay
Rating: Teen, 18+
#2 – Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
Ever read one of those cringe-worthy one-star reviews on the internet and had to shake your head at the idiocy? Too many trees and rocks in a National Park? You don’t say! Well if you get a kick out of those, you’re going to love the Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet podcast. It’s a comedy show featuring dramatic readings of real one-star reviews from real people. Accompanying dramatic music is set behind each reading, and the hosts pause the readings to insert hilarious commentary. No locale is off-limits – not even Disney – and reviews are pulled directly from business’s websites, Yelp, Google, Trip Advisor, and from all over the internet. From Minnesota’s lakes and Walmarts in South Dakota, to pizza places in Kansas and of course, beaches in Hawaii and Australia. They even cover reviews of Netflix’s sensational show, Tiger King, and in this case, the hosts also read some of the most ridiculous 5-star reviews of the jaw-dropping and controversial docuseries.
The Hosts: Brother and sister, Alex and Christine Schiefer co-host the Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet podcast. The siblings have always enjoyed reading and making fun of crackpot reviews, so the podcast format was a no-brainer. Listeners love the siblings’ dry wit and contagious laughter as they read their way through some of the most absurd reviews on the web.
The Guests: There are no guests on this podcast.
Why You Have To Listen: If you’re stuck at home wishing you could travel, don’t despair. These reviewers (in their infinite wisdom) insist that you aren’t missing anything! If you’re genuinely missing the beach and was hoping this podcast review was actually about some affluent traveler who promises to virtually transport you to the world’s most coveted beaches, sorry to disappoint. So grab that craft cocktail (or maybe a cheap beer in this case), slap on that DIY face mask, and get ready to laugh at the idiots of the internet. Just save this one for when the kiddos are in bed, as it is explicit and no topic is off-limits.
Listen to Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
Rating: 18+ (Explicit)
#3 – The First 40 Miles
The First 40 Miles podcast is a show about hiking and backpacking for beginners. A refreshing take from a lot of the other gritty, hardcore podcasts about hiking and wilderness survival, The First 40 Miles serves to strip away the intimidation of backpacking and help real people and families enjoy more time on the trails. Topics range from gear review and recommendations (including the stuff you really don’t need), games to play on the trail, easy campfire cooking, going to the bathroom in the middle of nowhere, dealing with blisters and sore muscles, and countless other backpacking basics. While the show concluded in 2018, the 200+ episodes in the archives are still well worth the listen for newbie backpackers.
The Guests: Heather and Josh Legler co-host the show. Josh got hooked on backpacking in the first 40 miles as a youth in Boy Scouts, but didn’t rediscover the hobby until later in life and realized there was a big learning curve in gear and planning. Heather also discovered her love of backpacking in the first 40 miles and enjoys the creativity “imagination, inventiveness, improvisation, insight, and intuition” that goes into strapping on a backpack and disappearing into the woods.
The Guests: While Heather and Josh usually carry the show, they also invite fellow hikers to share their stories and trips on the show. Often, they’ll check back in with guests after their first hikes to see how it went, which makes the show and guests more relatable to listeners and fellow beginner backpackers.
Why You Have To Listen: If you are a family of day hikers, or you’ve been on the fence about backpacking, this is a great show to prepare you for your first overnighter. Heather and Josh don’t claim to be experts; they’re real people who, through trial and error, have figured out how to make backpacking easy and enjoyable for average people. They simply want to share their experience and knowledge through their podcast in hopes of helping others. If you’re staycationing at home this summer and are interested in elevating your hiking game, tune into The First 40 Miles in preparation for an epic Fall backpacking trip!
Listen to The First 40 Miles
Rating: All Ages
#4 – Deep Energy and Dark Ambient Podcast
Step aside lullabies, bedtime stories, nature sounds, and white noise – there’s a different type of podcast for sleep, and it’s taking listeners on a hypnotic journey to drowsy town… The Deep Energy and Dark Ambient Podcast from Acast, with music by Jim Butler features instrumental music for sleep, relaxation, meditation, and even healing and therapeutic yoga and reiki sessions. Listeners can peruse the hundreds of episodes available to find sounds of things that resonate with them: dream state, chromosphere, celestial being, falling stars, distant molecules, seclusion and isolation, hope, solace, still day, awakening, sunrise, and many others.
The Host: There is no host on this podcast. Jim Butler produces all of the music for the show. He specializes in new age, ambient, and space music, and his music has been downloaded more than 12 million times through the Deep Energy and Dark Ambient Podcast. Additional music, albums for purchase, and guided mediation are also available on Butler’s website.
The Guests: There are no guests on this podcast.
Why You Have To Listen: As the name of the show implies, the music is deep, dark, and ambient. It relaxes the subconscious, and allows you to let go of the stresses of life and slip into a deep meditative state or blissful slumber. Perfect for relaxing with your DIY face mask or after a long day of staycationing and sipping craft cocktails.
Listen to Deep Energy and Dark Ambient Podcast
Rating: All Ages
#5 – Good Food
The Good Food podcast from NPR is one of the longest-running talk radio shows about food (on KCRW 89.9FM since 1997!). While it’s based in Los Angeles, the host features restaurants and chefs from all over the world. Listeners of the show tune in every week to hear about what’s going on in the food industry, including how the current COVID-19 pandemic is changing things, and what it will mean for restaurants in the future. Going back into the archives, listeners can visit some of the most unique eateries, farms, and marketplaces, discover interesting ingredients and hear step-by-step recipes from international chefs. The show is appropriate both for those in the biz, newbies in the kitchen, and foodies who simply want to keep up with the latest and greatest on the food scene.
The Host: Evan Kleiman is a renowned chef, author of 8 books, restaurateur of 28 years, and host of Good Food. Her goal with the show is to bring together “a community of food people” – farmers, distributors, chefs, restaurant owners, cookbook authors, and of course, everyone who enjoys finding and eating delicious food. When her restaurant, Angeli Caffe, first opened in LA in 1984, the food scene credited Kleiman with introducing rustic Italian fare to the United States.
The Guests: During her time on Good Food, Kleiman has interviewed more than 6,000 guests, including celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (link below to his first interview with Good Food in 2000!), film director, John Favreau, and chef Roy Choi, stars of the award-winning Netflix show, The Chef Show, along with farm-to-table farmers and chefs, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, and countless other guests who add incredible depth and insight into the food industry.
Why You Have To Listen: When you can’t travel, Kleiman takes you on a culinary journey across the world. While she brings listeners restaurants, chefs, and recipes from around the world, she is also a proponent of exploring your local city, sourcing authentic ingredients where you live, and learning about the people and heritage that are serving amazing food right in your backyard. Kleiman is an expert interviewer, and her casual conversation style invites listeners to grab a glass of wine and pull up a chair at her table as she delves into all of the fascinating facets of the food scene.
Listen to Good Food
#6 – Museum Confidential
An entertaining twist on the traditional museum podcast, NPR’s Museum Confidential is a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings and people that make museums tick. Museum-goers only see the exhibits, but a lot more goes into the curation, education, and operations of both the renowned and underrated museums of the world. The show is produced from the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and features museums big and small; from the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan and how the Chelsea Hotel became an art museum quite by accident, to the lost and found unfinished art of the late Dr. Seuss and the Bob Dylan un-museum opening in 2021.
The Host: Jeff Martin, the Communications Manager of the Philbrook hosts Museum Confidential. Martin’s inquisitive nature, casual demeanor, and conversational interview style make him a refreshing choice for a museum podcast host. Martin finds fascinating guests to interview and uncovers lesser-known stories about our country’s museums and the history behind the people connected to them.
The Guests: Martin regularly interviews guests on the show, including museum directors and curators, authors and journalists, artists, and otherwise interesting people who work at (or know about) the featured museums. Martin emphasizes women’s often underrated and suppressed role in art, and regularly invites women on the show to share their experience and perspective in the art world.
Why You Have To Listen: This museum podcast doesn’t take you on a virtual tour of museums. Instead, the show discusses how museums came to be, how decisions are made about exhibits and artifacts, and the in-depth stories behind the people surrounding them. In one episode, Martin interviews author, Fiona Davis, who writes novels about famous buildings in New York City. Most recently, she wrote about the Chelsea Hotel and its art history. Her research for past books has uncovered captivating stories about the people linked to historical buildings, such as The Dakota where John Lennon was shot and killed, the lost art school of Grand Central Terminal, and the mysterious book thefts that plagued the New York Public Library. Listen to the episode, Building Stories below to learn more.
BONUS: If your kids (or you) are looking for a pen pal during your staycation vacation, the Philbrook Museum of Art invites you to write a letter to their garden cats, Cleo and Perilla. They’ll even write back!
Listen to Museum Confidential
Rating: All Ages
#7 – A Bar Above: The Mixology Talk Podcast
The Mixology Talk Podcast is a supplement to the A Bar Above website, where a husband and wife team use their bartending, hospitality, consulting, and writing backgrounds to elevate the bar industry. While the show is primarily targeted to bartenders, bar owners, and others in the biz, the hosts also invite anyone “looking to make great cocktails at home” to listen in to hear reviews, get practical tips from the pros, and discover delicious new recipes. Home mixologists can even shop the couple’s custom line of bar tools on their website (still shipping during COVID-19!) to take their cocktail-making game to the next level.
The Hosts: Husband and wife, Chris and Julia Tunstall are co-founders of A Bar Above and co-hosts of The Mixology Talk Podcast. Chris has more than a decade of experience in hospitality, consulting, bartending, and managing bars. He has designed signature cocktails for some of the most prominent spirit brands, and he continues to hone his skills and share his experience so that other bar professionals can improve their techniques. Julia uses her writing experience to develop how-to content and educational materials to support their clients and followers, and together they have created a signature line of bar tools available for purchase on their website.
The Guests: Chris and Julia regularly invite guests to the show, including fellow bartenders and mixologist instructors, successful bar owners and managers, chefs (including pastry chefs that talk cocktail coloring!), sommeliers, food scientists, representatives from craft breweries, distilleries, and spirit brands, award-winning authors, and many others.
Why You Have To Listen: No great vacation would be complete without a taste of the local drink scene! Because The Mixology Talk Podcast brings you classic and new drinks from around the world, including recipes, it’s possible to try your hand at a regional beverage right from your home. Find an episode with a drink that interests you (if you were headed to the islands for vacation this summer, don’t miss learning all about rum on this episode!). Then head out to your local liquor store (in most states they’re still deemed “essential”), and stock up on everything you need to have a refreshing staycation vacation at home!
Listen to The Mixology Talk Podcast
A staycation vacation doesn’t have to mean you miss out on all the sights, sounds, and experiences of a real-life vacay! Pick your favorite virtual vacation past time, then tune in to some of the must-listen episodes of the top virtual vacation podcasts above, reviewed by Vurbl.