After a miserable year for would-be globetrotters, international travel is finally returning - albeit slowly - with the unveiling of the (rather short) green list. What better time, then, to stoke up your wanderlust by listening to one of these excellent travel podcasts:
Former TIME foreign editor Nathan Thornburgh has a pretty cushy gig: flying across the world to imbibe the local toast with what he succinctly describes as ‘exceptional people’. Whether it’s sipping mezcal with former cartel fixers in Tijuana or dishing the dirt with corruption-busters in Kensington (over knock-off Russian vodka), The Trip is the perfect podcast for the raffish and adventurous. If it all sounds rather Anthony Bourdain, that's no coincidence: Thornburgh was a close friend of the travel icon, and the two routinely collaborated on early episodes.
Flight of Fancy
When it comes to the nitty gritty of travel, you won’t find a better option than Flight of Fancy, the Aussie-born podcast that covers everything from airport fiascos and travelling with kids, to planning solo trips and dealing with long lay-overs. The podcast’s main selling-point is simple: it’s presented by people who actually travel (prolifically) on their own dollar, rather than glorified influencers who get whisked around the world for free. If you pride yourself on your independent travel skills, you'll be in seriously good company here.
As one of the few countries on the green list, Israel will be bracing itself for an influx of visitors this summer. If you want to get under the skin of this most complicated country, it’s worth subscribing to Israel Story - a story-driven magazine podcast in the vein of This American Life. Like a lot of hipster podcasts, the hosts occasionally overdo it on the narrating front, but the stories themselves - which veer seamlessly between the personal and political - are usually riveting. Download the back catalogue to binge on your flight to Tel Aviv.
Neil Oliver’s Love Letter to the British Isles
Let’s face it: even the most optimistic travellers would have to admit that this summer looks set to be dominated by staycations. Looking for something to recharge your appetite for all things British? You’ll be in perfect hands with Neil Oliver, the natural world's renaissance man, and his kaleidoscopic venture through one million years of these great islands. Oliver’s talents as a broadcaster are well known, but here’s the chance to hear the man doing what he loves best. Turn your humble walking break into an epic historical trek by listening to this one as you go.
Abroad in Japan
Few places captivate the curious traveller like Japan - and it’s not hard to see why. But with the country likely to stay shut to outsiders for a little while yet (just as it was for much of its history), Japanophiles can get their fix from Abroad in Japan: a witty and honest take on life in the land of the rising sun from British expat Chris Broad. With a mix of travel tips and cultural commentary, as well as a sharp take on the biggest news stories from the country (including the fraudster arrested for having 35 girlfriends), it’s a podcast that’s as informative as it is amusing.
The Travel Diaries
Very much the big hitter of the travel podcast world, The Travel Diaries invites the great and the good from the British cultural landscape to share their most formative travel experiences - like Desert Island Discs with boarding passes. Memorable guests have included Giles Coren, Jon Ronson, Anya Hindmarch and conservationist Jane Goodall. With a running time of around an hour, host Holly Rubenstein gives the guests room to really let their stories breathe - even if the pandemic has added a noticeably wistful note to recent episodes.
The Thoughtful Travel Podcast
Presented by travel blogger Amanda Kendle, Thoughtful Travel is a podcast about the ethical way to travel. Fear not though: this is no woke self-flagellation fest, but rather an intelligent probe of those very real dilemmas that come from traipsing through someone else’s country. Ever committed a mortifying cultural faux pas on a foreign trip? If nothing else, you’ll feel better knowing you’re not the only one. For a real treat, check out the guest episode with travel laureate Paul Theroux.
Zero to Travel
Thoughtful travel is well and good, but what about the really big question: namely how to get the most from your travel budget? If cost-cutting is your priority, you'll relish Zero to Travel. Produced by self-confessed 'digital nomads' (a fast-growing subculture that blends Zoom-era remote working with old-fashioned back-packing), you'll hear less about airline loyalty points (that famously obsessive travel subculture) and more about what it's like to trek 1000 miles in a second-RV, or how doing shifts on an organic farm can keep you fed for free.