These podcasts will transport you away from your living room and into another planet, from a trip along Watling Street to exploring space or listening to West African music.
The Big Travel Podcast
Lisa Francesca Nand, a writer and filmmaker, teams up with a well-travelled guest in each episode to examine their lives through the prism of their wanderlust. Nand isn’t afraid to stray from the topic at hand, and she enjoys eliciting strange and fantastic tales from her guests. In the most recent episode, Sarah travels to Málaga to speak with Bill Bailey, a delightful comedian, musician, birder (and linguist – who knew?) Their discussion ranges from migratory flycatchers to the carnivorous pitcher plant named after Bill and the dangers of asking an Estonian audience to select their favourite pop tune.
The sad fact is that the National Trust’s rich collection of magnificent homes, parks, and gardens is closed until the situation is resolved. The good news is that you can still pay them virtual visits by listening to this podcast every two weeks. Indeed, many programmes start at a trust property but wind up transporting listeners considerably further away. Historian Bettany Hughes’ time-travelling research into the European links of British monuments, broadcaster John Sergeant’s four-part examination of historic landscapes, and Clare Balding’s travels to trust sites to find little-known LGBTQ tales are among the audio highlights.
A podcast with a simple yet successful brief: encourage audio creators to “stand silently in fields (or items that may be generally perceived as fields)”. The result is a set of incredibly vivid recordings that provide an oddly captivating listening experience. Listeners have been brought to the Sinharaja tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka, the Beskid Mountains in Poland, the streets of Jenin in Palestine, and a beach on the coast of Greenland to hear dawn break in recent episodes. Close your eyes and let your mind fill in the holes.
An intriguing four-part series about psychogeography. Authors John Higgs and David Bramwell go on a 450-mile trip through one of Britain’s most renowned pre-Roman routes, from the White Cliffs of Dover to north Wales (including the section beyond Wroxeter, where the way diverged). Along the trip, they encounter Iain Sinclair, Salena Godden, Alan Moore, and others whose work has been influenced or influenced by the ancient trail in some manner. The podcast, which was imaginatively created, blends music, poetry, discussion, and little-known pieces of British history and culture into a soundscape that takes listeners to another place and time.
Phoebe Smith, award-winning writer, presenter, and Wanderlust editor, brings listeners into her world. She is known for her love of adventurous travel and willingness to rough it in a tiny tent. The podcast avoids well-trodden pathways searching for natural regions where you would not expect them, gets down and dirty with wildlife, and meets conservation heroes. Phoebe reported from the first Indigenous Australian-owned and managed guided walk, a cargo boat on Quebec’s isolated Lower North Shore, and an effort to kayak 300 miles around Britain’s rivers. The Wander Woman of the Month is also featured on the programme, casting light on unsung female travellers.
If you know Youssou N’Dour and Fela Kuti, Afropop Worldwide will quickly expand your horizons. As the name implies, the programme takes listeners on a journey across the world, tasting everything from intense salsa rhythms in Puerto Rico to the mystical vibrations of west African Vaudou in Utrecht (yes, Utrecht). Allow the captivating music, insightful cultural insights, and the wonderful, deep voice of Cameroon-born presenter Georges Collinet to carry you to places you never knew African music could go — it’ll leave you feeling more positive.
The Food Chain
In this intriguing, provender-based podcast, the BBC makes full use of its global reach. You may hear globally famous chefs describe their life in five dishes, learn about the uncertain future of Southeast Asian street cuisine, and discover what wine servers are thinking when they pour out that 2012 Blanc de Plonk you ordered on the spur of the moment. The presenters also delve bravely into arcane issues, answering concerns like what happens when inflating gluten balloons and what space smells like on Earth.
To communicate its storey, the documentary-style podcast employs film-inspired production techniques. Instead of just interviewing some of the world’s most remarkable adventurers, travel writer Aaron Millar creates an entire experience with each episode of the biweekly Armchair Explorer. It’s the place to go if you want to travel into gorilla country with a top environmentalist, march bravely into the Antarctic nothingness on Shackleton’s track, drop into the depths of the ocean in a great white shark cage, or escape into the Alaskan wilderness with Olympic gold medal skiers. If staying on EarthEarth feels too constrained, you may rocket up to the International Space Station for a space mission with John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut.
The Bitter Southerner
A podcast for those who want to delve inside the skin of the American deep south. Chuck Reece, the show’s host, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and delivers a no-holds-barred cultural tour of the southern states. It’s a spin-off from an eponymous magazine whose purpose is to dispel prejudices and incorrect perceptions about the area of non-southerners. Chuck enlightens his audience with anecdotes about southern culture, history, food, language, and inventions every week. Come for a behind-the-scenes look at Booker T and the MGs and linger for the Squidbillies.
The Bike Show
Are you fed up with being cooped up indoors rather than out on two wheels? Perhaps the likeable cycling champ Jack Thurston can assist. The renowned Lost Lanes cycling guide author packs his pannier and rides alongside fellow bike aficionados — poets, inventors, adventurers, campaigners, and even the occasional politician – to hear their stories about life in the saddle. Sleeping in unusual places is a Bike Show speciality, so you may spend the night with Jack in a snow-bound Welsh bothy, a church porch, or a French field, enjoying the wonderful sounds of wild boar rutting. You can also hear how close he and artist Jeremy Deller were to a lucky dip in the Regent’s Canal.