The great audio escape: Podcasts for travelers


Listening to a great podcast can feel like a mix between reading a sharp piece of journalism and overhearing insightful dinner party chat. Previously viewed as niche media products, podcasts are now part of mainstream conversation.

Last autumn’s podcast hit Serial, a US true-crime investigation averaging 1.5 million listeners per episode, has marked the arrival of a podcast boom. Serial was journalist Sarah Koenig’s 12-episode examination of the 1999 killing of teenager Hae Min Lee, for which her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was sentenced to life in prison. Countless think pieces resulted, and Koenig became a celebrity.

According to Edison Research, US audio podcast consumption grew from 39 million to 46 million monthly users between 2014 and 2015. While some podcasts reach a wide listenership, thousands cater to smaller audiences, from sports fans to film buffs. One of these is Filmspotting (read below), an acclaimed cinema podcast marking its 10th anniversary. “It helps us that podcasting continues to get more and more mainstream,” says co-host Adam Kempenaar

3 podcasts to get you hooked:

Science and technology made fun. Charismatic and knowledgeable hosts provide in-depth insights into a variety of topics, from the origin of epidemics to the science of love.
Nowhere are economics discussed more grippingly. Recent topics include inequality in America and the societal impact of spreadsheets.
While Filmspotting provides spirited discussion of US and foreign cinema, The Canon dissects the classics: are E.T. or Goodfellas really great films?

Story time in transit

For a frequent traveler, a podcast provides a relaxing escape and hands-free intellectual stimulation. They can be conveniently downloaded onto your device before a trip, meaning you do not need to rely on Wi-Fi or radio connection on the road.
“I always listen to podcasts when I travel,” says Adeline Ross, a communication designer based in Fukuoka, Japan. “I get motion sick, so reading or watching movies is usually out – and podcasts can keep you entertained on a 12-hour flight.”
Chicago-based actuary Taralyn Slusarski, who travels twice monthly for business, says she became a podcast fan last year, on the heels of the Serial boom. “Podcasts are free and easy to add to my phone before having to hop into airplane mode. I can zone out, close my eyes, and learn something new or laugh along to funny people,” she says.
Compiled and written by Laura Palotie
Photo by Finnair
This article was originally published in Finnair's Blue Wings magazine (April 2015). 


Published April 10, 2015

Category: Collaboration