The 10 best podcasts to listen to on your holiday flights and road trips

Beat travel stress (or boredom) with these popular shows.

Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
Mercey Livingston
4 min read
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There's nothing like traffic, flight delays, and crowded airports to dampen the holiday spirit. And if you're one of the millions of Americans traveling this holiday season, you know to expect more crowds, delays, and all-around travel headaches this time of year. 

While you may have no control over the weather, traffic, or seemingly endless lines at the airport --  something you can do is make sure you at least have something to listen to that will entertain you and help lift your spirits (or at least distract you from the craziness!). That's why podcasts make the perfect travel companion. Podcasts are one of the best forms of portable entertainment because you can listen to them anywhere and they're free. You can even download them on your phone and listen to them when you're offline or don't have cell service (like in the air).

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How to have a stress-free holiday season

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Podcasts cover every topic you can think of and there's something out there for everyone. Below, you'll find a curated list of the current most popular podcasts pulled from the Apple Podcasts and Spotify Podcasts top charts. Each podcast is sourced from the top 20 list (with one exception) and are selected because they're especially binge-worthy (great for long drives or train rides) or will entertain you and make you laugh. And who couldn't use a good laugh in the midst of travel stress?

Keep reading for 10 of the best podcasts that will keep you entertained during travel this holiday season.

If you were obsessed with the true-crime podcast Dirty John, then Detective Trapp is a must-listen (it's currently No. 1 on the Apple Podcast charts). LA Times reporter Christopher Goffard (who also wrote and narrated Dirty John) is back with another thrilling series. 

The podcast follows investigator Julissa Trapp, the sole female investigator on the homicide team in Anaheim, California. She's known for getting murderers to confess, and for her less-than traditional interrogation tactics -- all things that make an entertaining listen.

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If you loved the 2018 hit documentary, Will You Be My Neighbor?, then you'll also love Finding Fred. The show describes the life of Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers) and the progressive and interesting private life he led behind the scenes that many were unaware of until recent years.   

Dolly Parton is one of the most loved American celebrities and icons of our time. If you've ever wondered why she's such a celebrated figure, then listen to this show that covers everything you need to know about her life, career and rise to fame. The podcast is so popular it was recently adapted into a Netflix series. 

Dax Shepard is one of the most talked about (albeit unexpected) podcast hosts of the moment. I've had multiple people recommend the show to me and finally listened recently -- I have to say I was super impressed at his guest lineup. Expect hilariously and candid interviews with tons of your favorite celebrities, such as Kate Hudson, Bill Hader and Emilia Clarke. 

You'll get regular episodes and drop-in interviews with his wife, actress Kristen Bell. The episodes can be on the longer side, which is great for travel delays or when you need to pass some time. 

Why not learn something new while killing time at the airport? If you're feeling up to learning more about basically every topic, give Stuff You Should Know a listen. One of the co-hosts is a writer at HowStuffWorks.com and both hosts know a thing or two about how to entertain and teach you about interesting stuff. 

Ronan Farrow, journalist and son of Mia Farrow, is one of the reporters credited for breaking the Harvey Weinstein case. If you're interested in learning the backstory and how it all unfolded, give this show a listen. The show isn't just about Weinstein, though; it explores the systems that have historically protected powerful figures like Weinstein, despite being accused of horrible crimes. 

Amy Schumer sits down with friends to discuss, well, everything from politics to culture and more. Although not something you can listen in the car with your entire family (if you've ever seen Schumer do stand-up, this comes as no surprise). But if you're a fan of Schumer's humor, this podcast will be a welcome listen during holiday transit stress.

Reply All is one of the top-rated podcasts and has almost 20K reviews on Apple. Even though the show is technically about the internet, it's about so much more. Think stories about life, culture and people. Each story just so happens to involve the web, like a strange incident involving Snapchat or YouTube.

If you've ever wondered about the science behind why people do what they do, then check out the NPR podcast Hidden Brain. The show explores the things that drive human behavior and how they unconsciously shape the way we live. Give this a listen if you're looking for a dose of empathy in holiday traffic and madness. 

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Hosted by Queer Eye star Johnathan Van Ness, Getting Curious isn't on the top 20 charts at the moment, but I included it in this list because it's my personal go-to podcast for travel. I hate flying and found that Van Ness' podcast is one of the only things that can take my mind off of turbulence or an uncomfortable flight. I always download a new episode before I fly since Van Ness can make me laugh (or cry, to be honest) faster than any other podcast host I've heard. 

The show covers a huge variety of topics -- anything Van Ness is curious about -- ranging from politics to history to how to help rescue kittens. Van Ness is entertaining, hilarious, and unassuming and he's a great natural interviewer (he's also a professional hairstylist, which makes sense if you think about it!).

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.