Consider this a public service announcement: It's not too late to take a summer road trip. Whether you have your sights set on the sunny California coast, the picturesque New England shoreline, or the cactus-dotted deserts of the Southwest, there are a number of tried-and-true routes to traverse before travel season officially comes to a close. Now all that's missing is a binge-worthy podcast to stream while you take in the scenic landscape. The thing is, there's a staggering number of podcasts (over 525,000) to scroll through on iTunes alone.
To help narrow down the selection a bit, we're recommending the absolute best podcasts for road trips; in fact, they are so addictive you just might miss your exit. Spanning a New York Times–produced true-crime thriller that's garnered something of a cult following to a pop culture–fueled podcast hosted by two brilliant comics, there's something for everyone on this list. Trust us: You won't want to get behind the wheel without downloading these riveting, tearjerking, side-splittingly hilarious podcasts.
If You Love True Crime…
The Podcast: Caliphate, the first serialized podcast produced by The New York Times, follows reporter Rukmini Callimachi as she reports on ISIS, including a riveting interview with a former ISIS fighter who's grappling with the aftermath of coming home after joining the extremist group.
The Promising Review: "I found this podcast riveting, heartbreaking, and very revealing of how violence begets violence. The courage of the journalist undertaking this podcast astounds me. She dives into the soul of the caliphate."
If You Want to Laugh (and Cry)…
The Podcast: Terrible, Thanks for Asking, hosted by Nora McInerny, author of the best-selling memoir It's Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too), this podcast delves into the honest answer to the everyday question How are you? (Hence the podcast's name/answer, Terrible, Thanks for Asking.)
The Promising Review: "This podcast is warm, funny, emotional, and very, very real. I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking to hear real stories of imperfect people who are doing their best to get through this messy, sad, beautiful world."
If You Want to Learn Something…
The Podcast: In the words of the iTunes description, 99% Invisible "is about all the thought that goes into the things we don't think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world."
The Promising Review: "Simply put, if I had my way, I would listen to 99% Invisible nonstop all day, every day. The quality of the stories, the quality of the production, there's nothing I don't love about this podcast."
If You're Interested in Celebrity Gossip…
The Podcast: The Read, hosted by bloggers Kid Fury and Crissle, is a hilarious podcast that will keep you up to date on all the latest pop culture news (and have you laughing out loud in the process).
The Promising Review: "Funny, wisecracking, and addictive, getting my Read on is [one of] the best things about each week. Love this!"
If You Want to Keep Up on Current Events…
The Podcast: Embedded deep-dives into today's most pressing news stories. From the opioid epidemic in America to the Trump administration's past to the police shootings caught on video, host Kelly McEvers tackles it all.
The Promising Review: "This show is a mix of real news and of This American Life–type introspection—highly recommend."
If You're Looking for a Guilty-Pleasure Listen…
The Podcast: My Favorite Murder is hands down the most popular true-crime podcast on iTunes, with over 50,000 ratings and a solid five stars. As you might have already guessed, hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark discuss their favorite murders in each darkly comedic episode.
The Promising Review: "If you're into dark humor, then this is for you. A great podcast for people who love crime stories but feel they can't bring up murder cases to friends without looking insane. Hosts are great at keeping the mood up even with such horrific subject matter."
If You're Hitting the Road Solo…
The Podcast: Listening to 2 Dope Queens, hosted by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, will make you feel like you're in the car with your closest (most hilarious) friends. Complete with comics and celebrity guests, this is a must-download before a long trek.
The Promising Review: "Jessica and Phoebe are straight-up goddesses of comedy and know how to put together a great show with hilarious guests, and I'm hooked!"
If You're a History Buff…
The Podcast: In Revisionist History, New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell shines a light on overlooked or misunderstood elements of U.S. history. You'll file everything you learn from this podcast under stuff you missed in history class.
The Promising Review: "Gladwell is one of the great storytellers of our time, and he takes to this new medium immediately. Every bit as compelling as anything he has written in print."
If You're a Romantic at Heart…
The Podcast: This Is Love, brought to you by the people behind the award-winning podcast Criminal, is dedicated to telling love stories of every variety, including all the sacrifice, risk, and heartbreak that come with it.
The Promising Review: "At first, I did not know what to expect. But after listening to the first episode, I'm hooked! It was lighthearted. It was funny. It made you smile and also made you want to cry a little. You could feel the love in this episode."
Ed. note: Reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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