In this era of constant mental stimulation, it can feel difficult to just sit on a long journey with nothing to do except stare out the window. Yes it might give your brain a break, but one hour of raw-dogging reality and you’re going to be itching with boredom. Which is where podcasts come in – the elite way to pass a long journey.
I’m of the opinion that the best podcasts for long journeys aren’t the bitty, chatty ones, but the gripping, long-form ones. The type that’ll have you smashing play on the next episode, and entirely forgetting where you are or where you’re going. Essentially, well-made documentaries, but for the ears. With that in mind, here are the ultimate podcasts for that hours-long journey you have to take to your parents’ place and back again.
I must admit, I put this one off for a long time because I thought the content would be too distressing. And it is distressing, but it’s also a deeply fascinating tale of lies, the slow uncovering of truth and the ways in which women’s pain is constantly minimised (the podcast is about how dozens of women came to a fertility clinic at Yale in hopes of becoming mothers, before experiencing excruciating and unexpected pain). You’ll have already heard of Serial – the podcast, launched in 2014, is what made podcasting what it is today. But if you haven’t had time to listen to their latest series, The Retrievals, then now is your chance. You can listen to The Retrievals here.
It’s often hard to lift the lid on human trafficking because it’s so under the radar and difficult to prosecute those involved. On this four-part podcast series Trafficked, from The Guardian’s Today in Focus, reporter Annie Kelly follows the story of Marta – a pseudonym – who was trafficked to the UK from Ukraine and tricked into human slavery, and who eventually battled her human traffickers in court. This one will make you stop and peer at your surroundings in a very different way. You can listen to Trafficked here.