The Best Podcasts to Inspire Your Next Road Trip

Whether it’s a gripping true-crime story or an extended interview with your favorite celebrity, podcasts make an excellent travel companion on long car trips. But podcasts can also help you learn about the places you’re going—or maybe the places that are still on your list to visit.

Below are 10 podcasts to help you get a better understanding of American culture. To immerse yourself into the tales of the locations that pass by your car windows, add one or two to your road trip playlist.

Dirtbag Diaries

This is Patagonia’s podcast about the outdoors, particularly the Mountain West. This podcast is full of stories about adventure in mountains and rivers. Some outdoor lifestyle shows are obsessed with gear and technique. Dirtbag DiariesEach story keeps humans as the main focus. Nature is just a part of the story, not the central character. Each episode is more interesting because it focuses on the people, and how nature affects our relationships.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Bitter Southerner

Podcast from The Bitter SouthernerThe magazine is a collaboration between Georgia Public Broadcasting and Georgia Public Broadcasting. It explores all that it takes to be a Southerly person. It takes a fresh look at some of the region’s well-known tropes, from southern accents to J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly ElegyFood like okra. There’s an episode on Waffle House that sticks with me a couple years after I originally heard it in early 2020. After you listen, I guarantee you won’t think about the iconic chain the same way again.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Learn More Here are 10 of the Best Podcasts in 2021

Peak Northwest

The show is from The OregonianThis is probably the easiest travel series on our list. Each episode features a different thing to do throughout Oregon and the greater Pacific Northwest. It’s a must-listen if you’re traveling to that part of the country. Learn about overlooked state parks, where to go crabbing on the Oregon coast, and Portland’s dining scene. Jamie Hale or Jim Ryan can reveal something to anyone who lives in the region, and they also interview experts.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Black in Appalachia

Since 2016, the Appalachian Region, which technically includes 13 states between New York and Mississippi, has been covered extensively by media outlets. Storys tend to focus only on the lives of white working-class people, while ignoring those who live in these places. This is the Black in AppalachiaThis podcast is changing that. It focuses on Black voices, and breaks down historical and cultural stereotypes. This episode explores the legend of John Henry as well the history and music of Black musicians who were freed or escaped from slavery in the region.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

New Jersey is the World

This podcast is the perfect way to bring New Jersey into your podcast. This show is unlike other podcasts on the list. New Jersey is the WorldThis podcast is not about rich sound design and engaging narrative storytelling. Chris Gethard, comedian and host of the Garden State Conversations series, focuses on what makes it so special. He leans into the state’s stereotypes and isn’t afraid to talk about things that need to change. Whether you already love New Jersey like Gethard does or are just N.J.-curious, there’s something for you here.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Driving the Green Book

It has been difficult to travel in the United States, especially for Americans of color. This podcast tracks the path that Black Americans used to travel from Detroit, Louisiana to New Orleans in the Jim Crow Era. The Green BookThis is the guide to Black-friendly businesses along the route. The show includes an Apple Maps component so you can follow along the route and see what’s become of the locations in The Green Book today.

Listen on Apple Podcasts


ThresholdThis is the ideal show for getting lost on long highways. It doesn’t just focus on one place, but explores the whole of our relationship with nature. Each episode has rich storytelling and natural sound. The show’s third season, which won a Peabody Award in 2021, features reporting from Kaktovik, Alaska, the only town in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a place at the center of the controversy over drilling for oil there.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Learn More Here are 50 of the Best Podcasts You Should Listen To Right Now

Dolly Parton’s America

The show gained a lot of attention when it premiered in 2019. It’s a story about Tennessee, but also about American culture more broadly and Dolly Parton’s place within it. Travel inside what the creators call the “Dollyverse”—the world that Parton created and the one she and her fans inhabit. It’s complicated and far from perfect, but the idea of Dolly as a uniting figure is worth exploring as you traverse parts of the country that might be different from where you live.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

The USA Makers

One of the best things about traveling is finding the off-the-beaten-path places that make something unique that you can take home as a souvenir—and that will give you a story you’ll tell for years to come. Podcast USA MakersThis spotlight features artists and artisans in Maine, Maryland and elsewhere. Discover how the entrepreneurs got started and how they connected with their communities. This episode covers everything: razors, candles, gourd banjos, and razors. It also discusses how they manage to survive in today’s changing economic environment and continue to craft their original work.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

LA welcomes you

Without mentioning California, no list of travel shows is complete. People visit California and Los Angeles because it is a symbol of American Dream. You might not expect that things are so complicated. David Weinberg, a KCRW award-winning journalist highlights the complexity of this series. An especially moving episode details what happens Friday nights in New York City, both during and after COVID-19.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Here are more must-read stories from TIME

Get in touchSend your letters to


Related Articles

Back to top button