It’s rare in this world to have several hours to yourself, with nobody expecting you to be connected to the internet and an almost-comfortable chair to lounge in. So take advantage of your next flight to kick back and binge a really good podcast. Our pals at Lifehacker US put together a list of recommendations for the best podcasts to download en masse before you take off:
Joel Kahn, Senior Video Producer
Song Exploder is perfect for plane rides of any length. Even though the episodes are short (around 20 minutes), you can then extend the life of the episode by listening to an entire album by the artist interviewed, now with new insights. Since there are so many episodes, you can prep and download the ones featuring only the artists you like, and their entire discographies as well.
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
I spend flights in a half-unconscious haze, and a good soundtrack for that is the gentle narration of LeVar Burton, who reads classic (but not overplayed) short stories on the efficiently named podcast LeVar Burton Reads. His voice and his excitement for literature is exactly how you remember it from Reading Rainbow. There are 48 episodes so far, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes each
Meghan Walbert, Contributing Writer
I’ve been binging Terrible, Thanks for Asking. It is admittedly sad because it’s largely about people working through the grief of something difficult that happened to them, but the host, Nora McInerny, has a dry sense of humour and big laugh that somehow lightens up the mood. It’s great interviewing and storytelling and a 40-minute episode goes by incredibly fast.
David Murphy, Senior Tech Editor
I always love the soothing sounds of This American Life. However, I’m also a big fan of D&D-themed podcasts like Acquisitions Incorporated, the “C” Team, or Critical Role — to me, it’s a kind of interactive storytelling that lets me kill time and tap into my inner geek without having to get $80 worth of books, a little figurine and friends.
Virginia Smith, Managing Editor
The Bowery Boys has an endless number of bite-sized episodes with snapshots of New York History, from events to neighbourhoods to specific people to specific buildings. I find it equal parts entertaining and soothing.
Lisa Rowan, Personal Finance Writer
I like to catch up on Criminal when I’m travelling. Episodes are typically 30-40 minutes, with engrossing storytelling and memorable characters. Some of the episodes can be too gruesome for your travel time when you’re just trying to relax, but those always have a warning on the front of the episode. Start with The Stowaway for a fun travel episode about a not-really criminal.
Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor
For a flight, I like podcasts that exist in short series with an arc and an end. The Dream is an 11-episode series about the world of multi-level marketing, and each episode takes you a little further down the rabbit hole. Oh No Ross and Carrie also fits the bill: their “investigations” of paranormal phenomena and pseudoscience hucksters range from single episodes to epics: they made it through nine on Scientology, for example, before they got kicked out.
Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-Chief
Listen to Root of Evil! It’s a true crime podcast hosted by two sisters who have every reason to believe their great-grandfather was the Black Dahlia Killer. It’s horrifying and sad and gross and suspenseful and will make you forget you are in the middle seat.
Alice Bradley, Deputy Editor
Everyone should listen to all of Hit Parade, in which host Chris Molanphy goes deeper than you can imagine on the songs that have catapulted to the top of the charts. I have loved every episode, including the ones about artists I didn’t think I’d want to hear much about. And where I did love the artist whose songs he explored, I was enraptured.
Abu Zafar, Video Producer
The best podcast to binge on a long flight is Surviving Y2K. Dan Taberski is a masterful storyteller, and he presents the hysteria around the Y2K through the stories of people who lived through it. A terrifying hostage situation, a cunning businessman, the birth of the first baby of the new millennium, and Taberski’s own heartfelt story all weave together to paint a picture of what it must have felt like to believe the world would end at the turn of the century.
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor
If you’re on vacation, you want to read/watch/listen to stuff that’s outside of your everyday playlist, which is why I wholeheartedly recommend My Dad Wrote a Porno (if you haven’t binged it already). A guy’s dad wrote an amateur erotic novel, and he reads it with his friends. You will never regret entering the saga of Belinda Blinked.