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Podcasts for Travelers - All The World's A Pod

Stella from NY (Stella)

No matter how hard I tried to resist it, I think I may be surrendering to the notion that it is a pod-dominated world. This realization dawned on me after receiving an iPod as a gift from someone I had previously regarded as a steadfast Luddite. Love it or hate it, the iPod and the gush of technology it has given birth to has changed not only the way we listen to music, but how we get information.

Podcasting is the newest high-speed train of technology to hit the scene and despite its name, you don't need an iPod to climb aboard. If you haven't been introduced to a podcast yet, you will be soon. The New Oxford American Dictionary selected "podcast" as the word of the year in 2005.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is basically a broadcast "to-go;" an audio program is downloaded from a website onto your computer and then transferred to an mp3 player, such as an iPod. Downloaded podcasts can then be played back at your leisure.

Listening to podcasts is not limited to a portable device; you can also listen by simply accessing a podcast from a website and playing it on your desktop computer or laptop with a Podcast player installed. Some podcasting websites have their own player that is automatically enabled by your computer.

Even more exciting is the option of subscribing to a podcast; once you find a one you really enjoy, you can instruct your computer to automatically download new content as soon as it becomes available.

The portable side of podcasting is obviously appealing to travelers; we are no longer limited to simply listening to music on long transatlantic flights or while waiting on endless lines. But podcasting is much more than a handy novelty to bide away time; the best podcasts can open your mind to the world around you and inspire new adventures in travel.

There are podcasts available covering a vast array of interests, and the content providers range from the well known to the obscure; they can be quick snippets or full-length programs. Choose from slick podcasts produced by CBS, CNN, and NPR, or rough-and-ready podcasts from an enthused blogger operating out of his basement. The key is to find what you like, and enjoy the process of discovery. In addition to audio podcasts there are photo podcasts and video podcasts, and new podcasts are created every day; don't be surprised if you see podcasting content pop up on your favorite websites and weblogs.

Travel Related Podcasts

There are some excellent podcasts that are specific to traveling and travel planning; the following is a small sampling to get you started:

Travel with Rick Steves

www.ricksteves.com/radio/podcast.htm

This is a podcast of Rick Steves' weekly radio show. Whether or not you are a fan of Rick Steves, this is an excellent podcast for any avid traveler. A more relaxed and informal format than his PBS series, it features commentary, informative interviews, and listeners call in with their travel-related questions.

National Geographic

www.nationalgeographic.com/podcasts

The name says it all. Rich and informative podcasts await you from National Geographic, including the latest nature and science news, legendary travel photography, audio destination guides, video clips, world music coverage, and wild animal adventures.

Rough Guides iToors

www.roughguides.com/podcasts/

Rough Guides has partnered with iToors to promote these podcasts, and they are simply excellent. Lengthy and detailed, they transport you to another place. Designed as audio tours, they can be used in conjunction with a visit to a particular city, or you can just listen along and pretend you are there. They combine historical perspective with up-to-date and timely interviews with authors, historians and travel experts.

Lonely Planet Travelcasts

www.lonelyplanet.com/podcasts/

I truly enjoy these podcasts, they are a relaxing and informative; great for my morning commute! Be sure to browse the archives.

PodTravels.tv

tuscany.podtravels.tv

A fun, offbeat site featuring pretty and seemingly impromptu video podcasts from Tuscany. The short videos provided paint a lovely picture of everyday Tuscan life: a drive in the countryside, a sunset from a Florence rooftop, a cooking lesson with your nonna. You need QuickTime and a high-speed connection to view the videos on your computer, or a video iPod. I am addicted to this podcast, and I download the newest editions every week!

Amateur Traveler

amateurtraveler.com

The Amateur Traveler Podcast is a travel podcast for people who love to travel. It focues on travel stories with a dash of travel news, travel tips and travel resources. A truly independent podcast, entirely from the point of view of a passionate traveler.

Gadling

gadling.com/category/podcasts

A great travel blog site that offers periodic podcasts that include essays, magazine features and interviews with travel writers. You will find yourself easily addicted to this travel weblog, so practice some restraint if you must!

Virgin Atlantic

virginatlantic.loudish.com

Virgin Atlantic Airways offers city guides to various worldwide destinations in the form of a podcast. They have their own podcatcher software you can download; or you simply subscribe to their feed if you already have your own player installed.

Frommer's Travel Podcasts on CBS News

www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/21/podcast_frommer/main876910.shtml

A low-dose bit of travel news from Arthur Frommer; quick bits of useful information you might otherwise miss. Great for folks with short attention spans!

The Definitive London Podcast

www.definitivelondon.com

I guess this is definitive because it is the only one! Sometimes it is good to be alone. A pleasant British host chats up various topics useful to visitors to London or the simply curious. He can ramble off on the occasional tangent, but is quite charming nonetheless

iPod Traveller: Europe In Your Ears

www.ipodtraveller.net

Nick and Opal, two attractive Brits who like to travel, host this weekly, lively podcast. Their website has a forum, travel news, maps and live chat. Great for the younger traveler or the simply young at heart. There is a bit of giggling and off-color humor, but if you stick with it, you can glean some great travel tips and information.

Podcasting/Podcatcher Software

This is the software that lets you listen to podcasts on your computer or MP3 player. ITunes is the major player here, but there is other software available.

iTunes

www.apple.com/itunes/

If you have iTunes installed on your computer, you have everything you need to start listening to podcasts on your computer, as well as downloading them onto an iPod. There is a reason why iTunes is so popular; it crosses platforms, meaning that it can be used with both Macintosh and Windows operating systems, plus it is easy to navigate and use, even for beginners.

Juice Receiver

juicereceiver.sourceforge.net

Another popular application for both Windows and Mac is Juice Receiver (formerly known as iPodder)

PlayPod

www.iggsoftware.com/playpod/

If you have a Mac but want to rage against the Apple corporate machine, try PlayPod:

Doppler

www.dopplerradio.net

For Windows-only computers, and Pocket PC's or mobile phone mp3 players, you can try Doppler.

Finding Your Favorite Podcast

As the number of podcasts out there rapidly expands, the number of directories increases at an equally mind-blowing rate. Here are some good ones to try; within the general directories, use search functions with the keyword "travel."

iTunes

www.apple.com/itunes/

Within the iTune Music Store is a Podcast Directory containing a vast number of podcasts, though I find the sample snippets to be a bit short.

Podcast.net

www.podcast.net

This site features it's own player, which makes sampling podcasts easy and allows you to experiment before downloading software or buying a portable device.

Podcast Alley

www.podcastalley.com

This website features a weekly top 10 list of podcasts as voted by listeners, is easy to navigate and has a forum for the podcast-obsessed.

Learn More About Podcasting

There is no shortage of information and tutorials about the ins and outs of podcasting.

Wikpedia

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting

Wikipedia features an in-depth explanation of the process, its history and development and numerous resources.

Podcasting News

www.podcastingnews.com

Podcasting News features a podcast directory, along with useful links and numerous articles to help you demystify all that is podcasting

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