They might not save you from a 10-hour car trip with your siblings and their atrocious taste in music or from a plane ride where you’re stuck in a middle seat in the vicinity of a screaming baby—but podcasts make any distance, whether it’s a commute to work or holiday travel, a little more bearable. With so many new voices and genres quickly saturating the market, there’s a lot to choose from, so we’re narrowing down our top picks to add to your “download” list. From Oprah to cults, we guarantee you’ll find something of interest.
Whether you get carsick from reading or just need something to distract yourself from flying, here are the podcasts for travel team Domino can’t stop listening to right now.
If You Want to Learn Something
This is my (Elly’s) all-time favorite podcast; so much so that I get separation anxiety when it’s on hiatus and listen to old episodes on repeat to entertain me during my hour-long commute. Hosted by British journalists Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton—whose recently released book Everything I Know About Love is equally brilliant if you’re looking for a new read—it’s a conversational-style podcast featuring the duo’s acute and witty takes on current affairs and pop culture. Literature buffs will especially love the book reccos and occasional “author special” interviews.
If you’re looking for a more traditional way to get your news, The New York Times’ The Daily is a must-download. Start your day by getting the news in an easily digestible (each episode is 20 minutes long) manner presented by former political correspondent Michael Barbaro.
Another political pod, this beloved option is great for anyone looking for in-depth conversations and deep dives into social justice and politics. Past guests run the gamut from Edward Snowden to Chelsea Handler.
Yes, that’s right: The NPR radio show that originated in 1998 is also a podcast. Presented in the form of a current events quiz (and with a healthy dose of snark that the news could always use more of), it’s a fun way to stay informed.
If You Want to Be Inspired
Our favorite female-only, design-forward workspace has an equally cool podcast. According to our wellness editor, Kristin, “It’s all about females who are too badass for your history books”—stories of some women you know and many more you don’t know but should.
In a career rut? Hillary Kerr (the founder of digital lifestyle and fashion sites MyDomaine and Who What Wear) dedicates about 45 minutes each week to interviewing inspiring women and chronicling the imperfect paths that led to their dream jobs. Especially reassuring to anyone doubting themselves or questioning what they really want to do with their life—you’re in good company, with the likes of Mandy Moore and Emily Henderson among the interviewees—it’s a motivational listen that’ll get you reenergized to pursue your own goals.
Because is there anyone really more inspiring than Oprah? We didn’t think so. Listen as she interviews world leaders and leading experts across industries—through the conversations, she tackles everything from the personal to the professional to the philosophical.
If You Want to Laugh
It’s literally an hour of comedic gem Matt Bellassai (or, according to his iTunes description, “professional whiner and award-winning drunk Matt Bellassai,” which is the kind of humility we can get behind) discussing the most bizarre news of the week while ranting about the minutiae of everyday life. Which may seem trite, but once you hear one episode, you’ll be hooked. Past topics of conversation include everything from Los Angeles to Pixar movies to hiking.
What would you do if your dad wrote erotic literature? The answer is probably not to grab two of your best friends and read it out in a weekly podcast for the world to listen to—but we’re so glad Jamie Morton did just that. This podcast consistently has me (Elly, again) laughing to myself like a maniac on the subway, and I’m not alone: Other fans include Michael Sheen and Emma Thompson, who have both appeared on special episodes of the podcast to air their grievances with Morton’s father. It’s just an all-around great concept, perfectly executed with dry British humor operating under a general theme of incredulity.
If You Need Advice
If you’re a serial eavesdropper, you’ll love this next one. Perel is a therapist, and she’s sharing real recordings of her couples’ therapy sessions (anonymous, of course) for all to listen to and learn from. You’ll hear people’s struggles with everything from infidelity to loss, and it’s fascinating; whether or not you’re actually in a relationship, Perel’s advice is interesting, to say the least.
Need business advice? Masters of Scale sees host Reid Hoffman interviewing industry giants to test his theories for growth and pick the brains of people like Mark Zuckerberg and Reed Hastings.
If your New Year’s resolution is to lead a more minimal lifestyle, download this one ASAP. Hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the podcast examines how to lead a meaningful life with less stuff. It’s full of actually useful advice, like how to navigate minimalism when living with a partner who isn’t fully sold on it or how to pack appropriately for a trip abroad.
If You Need Your Celeb Fix
At the intersection of a dinner party and an interview sits this podcast. Singer Jessie Ware co-hosts it with her mother in their kitchen; they cook up what always sounds like a delicious dinner and enjoy it with a celebrity friend for a more casual setting. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s going to make you want to bake something with your parents immediately.
Recommended by Digital Editor (and big A24 fan) Rebecca, this one’s interesting because it doesn’t have a host. Instead, each interview is conducted celebrity-on-celebrity style; for any film buffs, it’s a unique look at the entertainment industry. The Molly Ringwald episode is an especially good one.
The podcast form of the famous BBC radio show, Desert Island Discs encourages celebrity guests to “share the soundtrack of their lives”—an interesting take on the classic interview format. Each guest shares and explains the eight songs that mean the most to them, often accompanied by stories on how they got their start and tidbits of information you don’t usually see from more scripted settings.
If You Want Something More Unexpected
One of the more interesting ideas for a podcast we’ve heard, Ear Hustle offers an inside look at prison life. Hosted by Nigel Poor (a visual artist and volunteer at San Quentin State Prison in California) and ex-inmate Antwan Williams, the show answers lighter questions about dating in prison and touches on harder subjects like solitary confinement. According to our digital editorial assistant, Lydia, “I love the show because it doesn’t focus on crime or violence but what day-to-day life is like.”
This one’s for all you conspiracy theory fans out there: Heaven’s Gate is a shorter series delving into the cultish. It follows a mass suicide that happened in 1997, narrated by Glynn Washington—a former cult member himself. You’ll have to listen to find out more.
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