The holiday season is nearly upon us, and for many, this means traveling some distances to see friends and family. And if being cooped up for hours on end, in a rather small space, fills you with dread, or if road trips of the past have featured arguments over who should control the radio or playlist, then this post is definitely for you! For your enjoyment (and perhaps your sanity) we’ve set out to compile a list of some of the best podcasts for your next road trip. All of these shows are seriously great, and anyone of them is sure to please even the most difficult of passengers.
With these long journeys in mind, we’re looking specifically at podcasts that are episodic in nature, rather than those that have stand-alone episodes. Episodic podcasts are perfect for long car rides as they keep you on the edge of your seat (buckled up, so course) as you eagerly devour each installment, barely aware of the miles and minutes ticking by.
Our first selection of podcasts are aimed at older audiences, but never fear! We’ve also collected some great content perfect for younger listeners! So if that’s what you’re after, keep reading to our Fun For The Whole Family section later on in this post.
And now, onto our list!
A list of great episodic-type podcasts would not be complete without a mention of Serial. This podcast was really the forerunner of these types of documentary-style podcasts, as well as being responsible for getting people all over the world hooked on podcasts as they eagerly awaited the next installment. So, if you haven’t yet given this podcast a try yet, it really is worth the hype. Season 1 centers around an in-depth look at the case against Adnan Syed, accused and convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, back in 1999. But with the case still in the news today, it’s just as relevant now as it was when the show first aired back in October 2014. Season 2, covering the harrowing events of one man’s detainment in Afghanistan, and Season 3, stand-alone episodes that give us glimpses into the many facets of the justice system, are both intriguing in their own right and will have everyone begging “just one more” at the end of each episode.
The Missing Cryptoqueen
I’ll be honest, I’ve really struggled to understand cryptocurrency. Friends have painstakingly tried to explain the concept to me, showing me YouTube videos and blog posts in an effect to get me to understand. Alas, I stayed fairly uneducated. That was until I came across The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast. Due to my lack of crypto-knowledge, you’d think I would have avoided a podcast with Crypto in the title, but I’d heard from very reliable sources that it’s a great listen, so I had to check it out. And I’m so glad I did! The Missing Crypto Queen details the meteoric rise of Dr. Ruja Ignatova and the pseudo-cryptocurrency, OneCoin. They took the world by storm, with thousands of people investing in this “thing” that was dubbed “The Bitcoin Killer.” With her intelligence and charm, Dr. Ruja convinced thousands of people from all over the world to invest massive amounts of money into OneCoin, with the promise of making them millionaires, if not billionaires! And then Dr. Ruja disappeared…never to be seen again! The podcast covers the journey of Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Cat as they try to unravel the hype behind OneCoin, by speaking to people who worked for Dr. Ruja, private investigators, as well as the people who parted with their money in order to buy OneCoin. It was a fascinating listen! Not only do I now actually understand cryptocurrency (can anyone say ‘blockchain’?!) but it was really mind-boggling to get such insight into one of the biggest cons most people have never heard about. This one is both informative and entertaining, and as a bonus, will arm you with some great conversation starters to break the ice at family gatherings.
Death in Ice Valley
If you and your fellow travelers love the unraveling of a mystery, then Death in Ice Valley would be a great choice! Nearly 50 years ago, the badly burned body of a woman was found in a desolated area near Bergen, Norway, with all the labels of her clothes cut out, and seemingly random objects found around her body. A few days later, her suitcases were found – containing the makings of different disguises, including a wig. As police started to follow this trail, the “Isdal woman”, as she had become known, they discovered aliases, witnesses, and clues that just did not add up. Decades later, Marit Higraff and Neil McCarthy pick up where the police left off to see if they can piece together the mystery of the Isdal woman, and using both modern technology and human memory, they attempt to discover who she really was. And consequently, answer the bigger question, was she a spy? The people who are interviewed range from policemen and ex-agents to people who actually met the Isdal woman all those years ago, and a spy catcher. (Yes, that’s right, I said spy catcher!) The mystery vividly unfolds through each episode and you’re drawn into the investigation as you try to piece together the mystery along with everyone else. Death in Ice Valley will provide enthralling entertainment during your travels, and have you using all that CSI knowledge you’ve acquired in an effort to find the truth.
Another fascinating listen is brought to us via The Dropout and tells the flabbergasting story of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos Scandal. The Dropout differs from the others in this list as it focuses on straight-forward reporting – rather than facts and interwoven narrative from the host. But don’t think its without flare and flavor! The narrative has no need for any story-telling flourishes as its so full detail and interest all on its own. Each episode features a different employee of Theranos, a medical company headed by Holmes, with grand ambitions of changing the world. There was just one teeny-tiny problem…the technology they claimed to have and built the company on for 15 years, didn’t work. Yep! The Dropout is the unraveling of a scandal, but it’s also a truly eye-opening exploration of Silicon Valley, the strong motivation of believing in something, and the sheer extent a person will go to in order to perpetuate a lie. It’s an example of investigative journalism at it’s finest, as well as giving you plenty to mull over in respect of the human condition, and all the elements that made it possible for a scam of this magnitude to continue for so long.
Marvel’s Wolverine: The Long Night
If you’re looking for something other than real-life scandals and murder mysteries, then look no further than Wolverine: The Long Night. You definitely don’t have to be a comic book nerd to enjoy this one! First of all, Richard Armitage has the perfect voice for anything audio, and him lending his voice to a character like Wolverine is a no-brainer! With the worldwide phenomenon that is Marvel, you may be worried that they’re just pumping out average podcasts to continue their plan for media domination, but that is definitely not the case. The script is excellent (but maybe a little gruesome, hence it’s inclusion here and not under the family-friendly section), the sound production is outstanding and the rest of the characters are intriguing in their own right. The second season The Lost Trail is hailed by many as even better than the first, making this perfect for road trips as you’ll have plenty of outstanding audio adventures to accompany you on your journey.
Fun for The Whole Family
The following podcasts have been compiled with younger travelers in mind, but we’ve also made sure they are entertaining (and not remotely irritating!) for those more advanced in years but still young at heart. They are all high-quality productions, with imaginative, original tales to ensure that all are thoroughly entertained. They’re sure to keep even the fussiest of travelers engaged and enthralled.
Purple Rocket Podcast
This podcast is a whole lotta fun! It’s full of imaginative adventures and daring tales that will keep the kiddos (and their parents) hooked from the very beginning. And with eight different series, The Purple Rocket Podcast will provide hours of entertainment for long drives or dreary days. The first series brings us Season One of Grandpa’s Globe. What could be more captivating than a magical globe, a handy guidebook and secret missions to apprehend a sinister organization? And while it’s definitely a children’s podcast, there’s enough humor and hidden pop culture references for the adult vehicle occupants. (Try spot The Princess Bride reference in the first episode!) You’ll gain a little cultural insight into all the countries that you visit, and your imagination will be in full throttle through each daring escapade. The other series are just as imaginative and include an intergalactic journey on a space train and the spritely adventures of Winnie and the Pixienauts, so hold on to your socks as you travel the world from the comfort of your car seat!
For Kids, By Kids Story Time Podcast
By Kids For Kids was featured on our post featuring The Best Story-Telling Podcasts for Children for its collection of short stories and fables for children. But it also gets a feature on this list due to its new project, the unabridged performance of The Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum. And whether you’re nine or ninety, chances are you’ll really enjoy listening to this classic piece of literature. The quality of this podcast is outstanding, the child voice actors are incredibly talented, and the editing is excellent. It’s a great way to expose children to longer length fiction as it captures the imagination beautifully, and the children’s voices make it really relatable as well as entertaining. I will forewarn you, however, the production is not yet complete. As of November 28, 2019, Chapter 11 (of 24) has been released. But I wouldn’t let that stop you. There is still plenty of entertainment to be had, and with a new chapter releasing every two weeks, its something to look forward to in the new year, once the holidays are done and dusted.
The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified
Eleanor Amplified is a clever little podcast. It’s a good ol’ fashioned radio, set in the present, featuring sassy, inquisitive Eleanor Amplified, who outwits and out-maneuvers criminal masterminds and their less-than-masterminded henchmen. The quality and sound effects are excellent, and the dialogue is witty, making it a great family listen. It’s perfect for road trips as, in a genius move, they’ve also created Road Trip Editions of each series, where there are no “episode” breaks, and you get to listen to the adventure in one continuous stream. Eleanor Amplified has moxie, heart, and a whole lot of great life lessons rolled up in a grand, daring adventure, a perfect listen for the whole family.
The Storyteller Podcast Kid’s Edition
The Storyteller Podcast Kids Edition is a highly-polished podcast and another great listen for the whole family. It’s full of vivid imagery, fantastical adventure, told in a calming, yet captivating manner. There are a number of stand-alone titles, but our focus is Fauna, the episodic adventure of the Animal King, a magical kingdom and the journey to discover the truth. This story is original and entertaining and will keep the backseat quiet as they hang off every word and as they let their imaginations run wild. The writer and creative force behind this, as well as the original show The Storyteller Podcast, is Adam James, and it’s hard to believe this is a one-man show. This magical adventure will keep all enthralled and will teach some valuable lessons along the way.
So there you have it, our list of the top podcasts to take along with you on your next road trip. And while close quarters and grumpy travelers are the stuff of road trip nightmares, armed with these podcasts, any trip you take this holiday season is sure to be a dream. So, subscribe and download a few (or all) of the above shows wherever you get your podcasts, buckle up, and let the listening begin. With so much adventure, intrigue, and mystery, the miles will fly past in minutes, and you may just find yourself wishing your destination was just a little bit further!