With nearly the entire world under some kind of lockdown or quarantine due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it’s no wonder that so many people feel disconnected and even depressed. While you can go outside and plant a garden, visit foreign destinations online and through virtual travel, and see pyramids, castles, and museums on a phone screen, nothing is quite the same as listening to the sounds and voices from around the world. This is where the best podcasts about travel come in!
#1: Zero to Travel: Podcast Review
Working from home is the current norm for nearly a third of the U.S. population. Thanks to so many first responders, medical personnel and other essential workers, many of us are able to practice appropriate social distancing measures. When the pandemic is over, working from home, or from the road, may become far more common. That’s where Zero to Travel comes in: This is a travel podcast all about living life to its fullest while traveling.
The Host: Jason Moore has been doing this for a while. With over 15 years running around the world as an adventure guide, entertainment event manager, and entrepreneur, Moore knows how to live that life. He also knows many interesting people who have also taken the leap into an office-free existence. Moore’s expertise is only exceeded by his unbridled love for travel.
The Guests: From the master of Moroccan marvels Lucas Peters to newlyweds who rode a tandem bike from Norway to Cape Town for their honeymoon in 2012 to Ireland expert Garvan Rushe, Jason Moore features guests in most episodes of Zero to Travel. Moore gets on extremely well and is a generous host, allowing his guests ample leeway to tell the kind of stories that will make you want to research their adventures and perhaps book some yourself.
Why You Have to Listen: As demonstrated in the recent episode An African in India w/ Kevin K. Cheeseman, Moore enjoys seeking out new opportunities and helping his listeners learn as much about the possibilities that wide and frequent travels open up in life. Aside from the sheer variety in topics, listeners are also treated to a quality audio production that helps bring these tales to life.
Listen to Zero to Travel
#2: Wild Ideas Worth Living: Podcast Review
While not strictly a travel podcast, Wild Ideas Worth Living casts a broader net. This interview-based podcast begins with the tenet that everyone has some innate power over their situation and can take action to change the way they live. The basics of how we live and work are a part of this, but travel takes a front seat in many episodes because ranging out into the world can be amazingly and positively life-altering.
The Host: Shelby Stanger walks the walk when it comes to the adventure travel lifestyle. She’s surfed at Tavarua, jetted around the world to interview celebs, CEOs, and pro athletes, and even kayaked the beautiful, dangerous Amazon River. In speaking with her guests, Stanger is able to truly empathize which carries the listener deeper into the journeys of her guests.
The Guests: Stanger welcomes guests from far and wide, thanks to her own network as well as connections available through the REI corporation (of which Wild Ideas Worth Living is an extension). From interviewing Chris Fagan, who skied across the South Pole with her husband, to learning about the beauty that can be found in the most terrifying places with Nat Geo photographer Amy Vitale, Stanger’s choices are endlessly on point.
Why You Have to Listen: In the episode titled Shannon Walker: How to Become an Astronaut and Get a New Perspective on Earth from Space, Stanger speaks with one of the most accomplished women from the NASA space program. Many episodes of this top travel podcast deal with adventure sports like climbing and surfing, but this particular show is the perfect example of just how adrenaline-pumping extreme travel can be.
Listen to Wild Ideas Worth Living
#3: Armchair Explorer: Podcast Review
Quite unique among top travel podcasts, Armchair Explorer takes a highly cinematic approach to exploring the world. Though it is the newest podcast on this list, starting in January 2020, this biweekly show is an auditory feast. Listeners are treated to powerful sound design that immerses them in the stories told in a first-person manner, documentary-style, rather than through the more well-trod interview format. We hope this podcast publishes new episodes for a long time.
The Host: Aaron Millar is a travel journalist extraordinaire, his work found in Nat Geo Traveller and the Times of London, as well as two must-read books for travel junkies: 50 Greatest National Parks of the World and 50 Greatest Wonders of the World. With more than a little flair for the dramatic, Miller edits his podcasts to impactful effect, making each 30-60 minute episode a memorable audio event.
The Guests: Each episode revolves around the sometimes hair-raising and always enlightening tale of travel adventure, told in the voice of the person who experienced it. In this way, the “guests” of Armchair Explorer serve more as the stars of the show, bookended by Millar with intros and conclusions. From a climber of Everest and a space-walking astronaut to the claustrophobia of a dive in a shark cage, Millar’s guests will raise your pulse.
Why You Have to Listen: Nothing quite sums up the real power of Armchair Explorer as well as the episode Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda with World-Leading Conservationist Praveen Moman. Millar makes sure to both entertain as well as educate with every episode. This one hits all of the high notes, including the strange dichotomy of adrenaline and inner peace that one discovers when surrounded by a gorilla troop and the absolute necessity of immediate conservation actions.
#4: The Big Travel Podcast: Podcast Review
The sheer variety of guests and their experiences to be uncovered in the 90+ episode backlog of The Big Travel Podcast is a pure joy. Just browsing through the list of shows can be a little overwhelming simply because there is so much to choose from. There are stories of an SAS soldier in the Falklands. an aid worker building wells in Ghana. a comedian living in exile in Bangladesh, and so much more.
The Host: Lisa Francesca Nand is a professional writer and documentarian whose focus is on the power of experiencing the world in first-person. The Big Travel Podcast is part of her visionary mission. Although the show’s format is straightforward and the audio is simple, Nand’s interview style allows her to both offer empathetic commentary while making her guests comfortable enough to lay bare their deepest observations.
The Guests: When comedian Bill Bailey talks about communing with nature, you can’t help but feel like you’re right there talking to him yourself. This is another one of Nand’s talents as a host: She is there to bring you together with her guests. And what guests they are, from fashion world elite India Hicks speaking of visiting Maharajas’ palaces to author Fiona Neill regaling us with tales of the Peruvian Andes.
Why You Have to Listen: The Big Travel Podcast offers its audience a look at parts of the world that few of us ever get a chance to see. There are many episodes that will leave an indelible impression, but Episode 58 is a real gem. In this program, Nand interviews Elli Radinger, who left behind a career in law to dedicate the past several decades to studying and understanding wolves in their natural habitats. This is a brisk 30-minute episode that will leave you ready to hop on a place to Yellowstone.
Listen to The Big Travel Podcast
#5: What the Pho: Podcast Review
Since 2015, this top travel podcast has been giving its listeners the low-down on a tremendous array of travel destinations as well as strategies for living the best travel life. What the Pho is a fast-paced, irreverent, and informative show hosted by a real-life couple who represent the “travel to live” lifestyle. With over 80 episodes in the backlog to explore, there is a ton to “unpack” for travel aficionados.
The Hosts: Amy and Nick Thompson are two firecracker personalities. It’s a wonder they have been able to stick together for years, but whatever they have must work. It definitely works for their audience, as What the Pho has become a brand in its own right. While our previous entry, The Big travel Podcast, might be defined as a little more directed at more of a seasoned middle-aged audience, Amy and Nick clearly are aiming for Millennial energy with What the Pho.
The Guests: While the stars of this show are definitely Nick and Amy Thomson, who go on most of the traveling adventures and regale the audience with honest glee (and sometimes disappointment) about their destinations, the hosts sometimes welcome guests to share their own experiences. Usually the guests on What the Pho are fellow traveling friends and/or travel podcasters and writers, but the added POVs are helpful.
Why You Should Listen: If you are older, Amy and Nick’s inner fire burns so brightly that your own travel bug will spontaneously combust into a firefly. If you’re a younger travel nerd who is just getting started on your bucket list, you will find the Thomsons to be great judges of character for many exotic locales: They are on the lookout for fun and excitement and are sure you come away with an informed opinion.
Listen to What the Pho
#6: Field Recordings: Podcast Review
Though each top travel podcast on our list has its merits, this particular one is perhaps the most unique. The ability of Field Recordings to immerse the listener in a new, faraway place is so magical that this podcast stands as a testament to the true power of raw sound. This top travel podcast earns its place here by virtue of how well the founder curates her content, as well.
Founder: A polished BBC Radio producer, Eleanor McDowell recognized that there was a great inherent value to the idea of the “field recording”, which every pro audio creator knows is too often taken for granted. She started Field Recordings as a way to help listeners gain even more understanding of locations through the simple, but very grounding, use of real-time sound.
Format: Field Recordings only just began its run in early March 2020, but there are already over 70 “episodes” available. These episodes are whole, mostly unedited location sounds ranging from one to ten minutes in general, though there are a few in the 20-40 minute range. It’s rather easy to listen to dozens of available clips, but we find it best to listen to each one several times in a row to appreciate the nuance of each place.
Why You Should Listen: From thousands of tiny frogs in Hawaii to a rumbling storm in Australia, Field Recordings will transport you around the planet in moments. There is a lot of nature to be found, but listeners are also treated to urban sounds, including the well-known balcony quarantine singers in Italy. You will find that just hearing those voices as opposed to pairing them with visuals will deepen your appreciation of the emotion present.
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Rating: All Ages
#7: The Adventure Sports Podcast: Podcast Review
With between two and three episodes per week for the past five years, each coming in at 45-60 minutes, The Adventure Sports Podcast has the largest backlog of nearly all top travel podcasts you will find. While you could definitely find some enjoyment in listening to an interesting fiction podcast, The Adventure Sports Podcast will wow you with an absolutely huge, mind-boggling list of guests and the fascinating stories they share, and there is something to tantalize every imaginable listener.
The Host: Mason Gravley is an adventure sportsman based in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado who was able to transform his day job into being one of the most prolific travel podcasters. His love of the outdoors and travel is the foundation for how much passion he brings to his interviews. Gravley approaches his guests with an openness that helps bring out the best in the tales they share on The Adventure Sports Podcast.
The Guests: From Milosz Pierwola and Ryan Shuler who founded the first climbing school in Iraq, to Tom Turcish’s updates on progress for his 5-year walk around the world, and Heather Hansman’s recounting of her paddle trip down the Green River through Wyoming that took two months, Gravley’s guests are an eclectic bunch. Listeners would be forgiven if they accidentally miss their exit on the way to work.
Why You Should Listen:
Though The Adventure Sports Podcast is something of a hybrid travel + sports + outdoors show, it provides more than enough detail and fantastic description to hit the sweet spot for top travel podcast seekers. Gravley’s philosophy is that the importance of the destination and what you do when you get there have equal weight, and most avid globetrotters will agree.
Listen to The Adventure Sports Podcast
Rating: All Ages
#8: Wander Woman: Podcast Review
In some ways this entry is the diametric opposite of our previous top travel podcast. Wander Woman is very new, under ten episodes into its run, and is much more a podcast about the place rather than what the host and her guests actually do there, even though they may actually do a lot.
The Host: Phoebe Smith is a world-class travel writer and speaker, and also calls herself an “extreme sleeping outdoors adventurer”. One of her biggest travel goals revolves around sleeping in the most unlikely (and dazzlingly beautiful as well as dangerous) places Earth has to offer. Smith so far has slept at Everest Base Camp in Nepal, swam in Antarctica, and even been within spitting distance of Alaskan grizzlies.
Format: Smith jam-packs every episode with multiple segments: guest interviews, her own stories of travel, travel tips for those hungry to explore their world, and a feature called “Wander Woman of the Month” that highlights an important historical outdoorswoman. In just a single episode, listeners learn about Dr. Guy Stevens’ quest to save Maldivan manta rays as well as Robert McFarlane’s writings on Parisian catacombs and Norwegian sea caves.
Why You Should Listen: Because of how much content Smith chooses to put into an episode, listeners will come away with many new questions and directions to look into. Wander Woman does as much to stoke a traveler’s curiosity as it does to satisfy the thirst for knowledge.
Listen to Wander Woman
Rating: All Ages
#9: The Trail Less Traveled: Podcast Review
This best podcast about travel truly brings it all together: adventure, outdoor sports, exploration, and journeys to the most remote places on Earth. If traveling the world is on your bucket list, this podcast will probably encourage you to change your life.
The Host: Mandela Leola van Eeden caught the travel bug very early on, and began her international adventures as a child flying back and forth between Montana and South Africa with her flight attendant mother. By the time she was nineteen, Mandela was interviewing villagers by the Yangtze (in Mandarin, no less) and hosting a travel-focused radio show.
The Guests: Mandela is perhaps one of the most well-traveled podcasters in the world, even among her fellow podcasters on this list. She interviews people in the places where they live, which in turn adds so much to her episodes. From Bedouin and Berber tribes folk in the Sahara to speaking with a guide on location at New Zealand’s Franz Josef Glacier, Mandela deals with real people living their lives.
Why You Have to Listen: Because almost everything about this podcast is created on location, there is less a feel of artificiality that comes from studio production. This reels listeners into faraway new places and leaves them with a fantastic sense of actually “being there”. Bonus: There is a fair-sized backlog at 80 episodes to keep feeding your curiosity.
Listen to The Trail Less Traveled
Rating: All Ages
These best podcasts about travel will remind you of the adventure and scale in the world outside and get your pulse pounding in anticipation of the time coming–in the near future–when you can get back out there.
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