15

3 free travel podcasts for a 20/40/60 minute mini-break

I have a dirty secret to admit: I have not been a podcast listener. The mystery of Serial has yet to be (un?)resolved for me. Long trips are filled with bad pop songs, not intellectual chatter, so I’m forced to focus on the road. I guess, if pushed, I’d have to say the idea of listening to people just talk is not my activity of choice.

That being said, I am slowly but surely becoming a podcast convert for one simple reason: I have to walk a lot now. In a big city without a car and a just OK public transport system, I’m walking a lot of repetitive routes. When I’m walking somewhere new, I like to be focused on what I’m seeing – somehow wandering with my headphones in distances me too much from what I’m discovering.

But walking down the same street over and over again? Bo-ring.

So I’ve been attempting to cultivate my brain just a little bit as I make my trips through Indianapolis. Suddenly I’m finding that my walks are transformed from simple obligations into a chance to learn about something really interesting. Best of all, this mental stimulation comes from free travel podcasts which don’t run longer than an hour.

I figure at some point everyone has at least 20 minutes to kill. So on your next obligatory walk, pop on a pair of headphones and make that time a little more special. Alternatively, if you just need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, you can create a handy little route using MapMyWalk that perfectly complements the free travel podcasts you’re about to listen to. (FYI at a standard walking pace – not too fast, not too slow – 20 minutes is equal to about one mile (1.6 kilometers).)

I Need a Travel Podcast for…

20 MINUTES
Stroll along with Travelosophy: what if travel is your calling? by Zero to Travel [17:09]. The Zero to Travel site is all about making travel your life. While it’s a fine idea, the concept just isn’t something I’m into despite the deluge of picture-perfect bloggers cheersing on a Thai beach to three, four, or five years of travel. Different strokes and all, but not my style after a three-month stint traveling through Central America that ended with a… meh, this ain’t for me.

All that being said, I was surprised to find I really enjoyed this particular podcast about travel philosophy since it really centered around travel becoming your life – in whatever form was most meaningful to you. There isn’t a hard sell of ‘you must quit your job and travel the world’, which I loved.

If you think travel may be your calling, in whatever form it may take to you, this will be a really interesting listen.

40 MINUTES
Try this interview with Peter Hessler by Longform [38:30].

Longform bills itself as a weekly conversation with a non-fiction writer or editor on craft and career. Because of this Longform has something for nearly everyone, whether you’re interested in business, politics, tell-all journalism, or something else entirely.

This particular podcast is an interview with Peter Hessler, a staff writer for The New Yorker as well as the author of three books about China. The interview is a fascinating look at his journey to becoming a China-focused writer. I particularly love his stories about getting his start in China as a foreign writer struggling to navigate the publishing process without easy use of telephones or internet. If you’ve only got 40 minutes for a mini-break, this interview is the perfect way to fly across the world.

60 MINUTES
Feeling like this hour-long mini-break may need to extend indefinitely? Check out this absolutely amazing podcast, The Leap, from This American Life [58:16]. I’ll let TAL explain what it’s all about: “Most of us go from day to day just coasting on the status quo. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? But when routines just get too mundane or systems stop making sense, sometimes you just have to hold your breath… and jump.”

My favorite part of the episode is the introduction story about a New York bus driver who one day failed to show up to work, instead hijacking his bus and driving all the way to Florida. This concept excites me a great deal, although I can’t necessarily advocate for you stealing company property and getting away from it all.

BONUS!
Try “Islands” from Backstory with the American History Guys [59:10]. I’m biased toward this show for several reasons: first because it’s produced in my home state of Virginia and second, it’s full of all those juicy historical tidbits that may not have been introduced in your history lessons. Plus, the southern accents are just too adorable. This particular podcast focuses on islands around the US; more specifically, about how they are always placed on the periphery of our history and culture. Not this time. Backstory brings the peripheral central with stories of the islands that are a part of American history.

3 Free Travel Podcasts for a Mini-Break - Let's Love Local (1)

Are you a podcast listener? What’s you’re favorite podcast for whiling away a few spare minutes?

19

Bored and stuck close to home? Try these 8 weekend adventure ideas

Bored and stuck close to home- Try these 8 weekend adventure ideas
8 close to home adventures, weekend travel ideas

Last weekend I was in one of those funks; you know, those ‘I’m so bored’, ‘I’m so broke’ moods that make it hard to get excited about anything. It had been a long week of job searching and money woes, so I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel and waste away my weekend in a haze of doing nothing.

It’s easy to fall into the why-bother mindset. Trust me, I know. A long, hard week can easily lure you into thinking you deserve to do nothing for the whole weekend. Avoid that trap! Even though it might feel like it at the time, doing nothing is not a reward!

Remember when you got sent to time out when you were younger? Remember how awful it was to be stuck staring mindlessly at the wall while you sat in limbo?

I’m going to voice an unpopular opinion here and say this: binging on Netflix and chips is not a reward. The activity just disguises itself in an attractive package. Sure it’s worth doing every once and a while (maybe more than we’d all care to admit), but wouldn’t it be great to have a better story to relay on Monday morning when the inevitable ‘so how was your weekend?’ question comes up?

So while it can be hard to imagine while you’re sprawled out on your bed aimlessly flicking through Instagram or watching your fifth hour of Gilmore Girls, you really will feel better if you get out of bed, slap on a pair of sunglasses, and go on a little adventure.*

*Emphasis on little.**

**And low-cost.***

***And simple.

To prove it, here are eight weekend adventure ideas that I love and use myself when I’m feeling too lethargic to get creative. Let’s go, guys:

Weekend adventure ideas - Let's Love Local (1)

Chase the horizon

An easy way to kick-start a mini-adventure: pick a spot in the distance and try to get there! If you’re in the city, start from a tall office building and choose a new park or interesting landmark. If you’re somewhere without tall buildings, try a decent hill or mountain (or even Google Maps in a pinch!).

Book a day-long bus or train trip

Not only does a bus or train trip take away the stress of driving yourself, but a quick trip is a great reminder that not every adventure involves a plane, tons of money, and a lot of time. Take a look at the cheapest Greyhound, Megabus, or Amtrak options from where you are.

What's geocaching - and should I try it- header - Let's Love Local

Give Geocaching a try

Geocaching has gotten more and more popular in recent years, making it also certain there’s a chance to give it a try, no matter where you are. For those who don’t know, geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. With small caches hidden around the world, geocaching is a great adventure to try wherever you are.

Go on a street art hunt

Pick a new place in town to visit and make a point to find and photograph at least 3-4 examples of street art or graffiti. There’s nothing better than a graffiti hunt to get you wandering down unexplored side streets, camera in hand. Trust me, that’s not nearly as sketchy as I just made it sound.

Crash a meetup gathering

I’ve recently discovered the fun of joining Meetup groups and can’t wait to join the perfect event. I love the sheer variety of groups and events on offer, even in a lot of the smallest towns. Not only will Meetup open you up to events you might not have known about, but you’ll also make a few new friends along the way!

Camp in the nearest national park

You’d be surprised just how many protected areas there are within 100 miles or so of any given city. Put those preserved areas to good use: toss a tent and snacks into your car, drive an hour or three, and enjoy a weekend in nature. You’ll feel refreshed, revitalized, and – after a good scrub-down – ready to tackle the week ahead.

Weekend adventure ideas - Let's Love Local

Close your eyes, point to a map, and go

I’m a big fan of this mini-adventure – whether you’re walking around in a big city or hopping in a car to head out into the country, you’re almost certain to discover something new. Wherever you’ve chosen, you’ve got to go. Make a day of it by grabbing lunch at the nearest restaurant or picnicking in the nearest open space. If you’d like to make the exercise a bit more controlled, go digital and use Google Maps to zoom in on an appropriately limited area.

Make a pilgrimage to the area’s most haunted place

Not for the faint of heart, exploring local haunted areas is the perfect adrenaline-fueled mini-adventure. Most towns have at least two or three local haunts (ha!) known for their paranormal activity and they’re usually not places you’d normally venture. Bonus points if you can find a brave tour guide to take you. Double bonus points if you see some paranormal activity.

What small adventures have you undertaken to get to know where you live better? Remember: if you try any of these, be sure to tag them on Instagram with #LLLADVENTURE!