Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Travel podcasts

Podcasts—digital programs (typically audio) made available online for free download to your computer or iPod, usually by syndication/subscription—are nothing new. But it wasn't until recently that I started checking out the many travel podcasts available on the internet. Now I spend my time on the subway exploring the world.

You can find hundreds (thousands?) of hours of free programming on just about any travel topic or destination. Here are my brief impressions of some of the more popular podcasts: podcasts consists of in-studio interviews with experts, and you'll get the same quality of information you can expect from their guidebooks. What I've found most useful about these podcasts is the range of topics they cover; rather than focus on profiling destinations, the programs discuss the latest travel news and issues, which is a great way to stay informed.

By comparison, most Lonely Planet podcasts feature profiles of travel destinations, and most are recorded on location. The mix of on-the-scene interviews and polished sound effects adds so much color that you almost feel like you're watching instead of just listening. Check these out if you've got a trip planned and want some in-depth info on your destination.

Europe-on-a-shoestring expert Rick Steves offers several types of podcasts. As the Europe expert that he is, his Italy and France walking tours podcasts are the highlight: you can download these programs to your iPod and take Rick along as a virtual guide. He also podcasts his radio show, and recent programs cover such non-Europe destinations as Nicaragua, South Africa and Afghanistan. Like podcasts, the format typically features interviews of experts.

Rough Guides podcasts mostly feature interviews of guidebook authors, and provide additional information about the topic of the authors' books. While these can be valuable if you're interested in that particular destination or topic, they can sometimes be a bit dry.

Finally, if you're looking for a podcast that will virtually take you away to a destination, Travel in 10 does just that. These 10-minute podcasts are recorded as if you're right there with the host, and provide a wealth of information on a particular destination. It's almost too much information; I sometimes found myself disoriented, wanting to see what the host was talking about.

Travel podcasts mentioned in this posting: | Lonely Planet | Rick Steves | Rough Guides | Travel in 10


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