19 Podcasts & Audiobooks Perfect For Your Holiday Road Trip


Traveling for the holidays? If you’re hitting the road to visit family for Thanksgiving, you’ll need some entertainment to get you through, whether it’s a few hours’ drive or a longer haul that takes a day or two. That’s where audiobooks and podcasts come in.

So, what makes the perfect road trip listen? For starters, it needs to be long enough to last the whole trip. Nobody wants to run out of content in the middle of the road trip, and you shouldn’t be perusing the audiobook summaries or podcast episode descriptions to find new material while driving anyway.

Most importantly, it should be something you find relaxing, inspiring, engaging, or however it is you like to feel when you read a book or listen to a podcast. For some, these stories are a chance to escape into a fantasy land. For others, they’re an opportunity to learn something new. You’re already stuck in the car for a while, potentially on your way to a family gathering you’re nervous about, so enjoy this time.

And one last hot tip: If you’re not someone who listens to audiobooks often, don’t feel like you have to sign up for a paid subscription just for this road trip. You can listen to audiobooks for free if you have a library card, using apps like Hoopla or Libby.


A Celebrity Tell-All That Tells It Like It Is

In Gabrielle Union’s first book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, she opened up about her journey through miscarriages and IVF. In this equally vulnerable follow-up, she talks about using a surrogate and the birth of her daughter, Kaavia, as well as the challenges of being a mom and having a career. She tackles the issues of racism and the treatment of aging women, both in American society and the entertainment industry. She dives into all the things we still have to fight for in 2021 with so much honesty that, well, readers may feel like they’re at the bar with Union drinking something a little stiffer than wine.


A Podcast That’s In The Headlines

Have you been following the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, former founder and CEO of the now defunct Theranos? Court proceedings are currently underway, with headlines coming out each day, but reading them can be a bit confusing if you don’t know the major players involved and what really went down with the Apple-like startup. If you didn’t follow the company’s downfall when it happened, The Dropout is a perfect way to binge all the backstory, complete with interviews and deposition audio of the people at the very heart of the scandal, including Holmes herself. And now that the trial is underway, new episodes come out weekly recapping the most interesting witness testimony.


A Best-Selling Author’s Latest Release

If you loved Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, then you need to listen to the newest release from author Liane Moriarty, Apples Never Fall. As you can probably guess by the title, this story dives into family dynamics, for better or for worse.

Stan and Joy Delaney have been married for 50 years, run a successful tennis academy, and have four adult children. They decide to sell the academy and enjoy retirement, wait for grandkids, and just take it easy. And then, Joy goes missing. Two of the Delaney kids think their dad has something to do with it, and the other two think he’s innocent. You’ll have to listen to find out which side is right.


A Political Exposé

Here’s another highly anticipated October release that’ll interest, well, just about anyone who has felt strongly about politics in the last few years. Stephanie Grisham began as a press wrangler on Trump’s presidential campaign, and ultimately became his communications director and chief of staff. So, yeah, you could say she knew the First Family pretty well.

One Amazon review describes Grisham’s account as “gossip for the history books.” Another pulls a phrase from the book’s introduction, which sums it up as “part chronicle of a chaotic administration, part therapy session, and part personal reckoning.” This definitely sounds like an engaging listen that’ll make your road trip fly by.


The Best Podcast For Learning Music History

If you love making and jamming to your road trip playlists, why not learn a bit more about the history behind the songs this time? The 33 1/3 Podcast is a Spotify original based on the nonfiction book series of the same name. Each episode dives into the history of a specific album, using the corresponding book as a jumping off point, like Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusions I and II and Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope. It’s hosted by music producer Prince Paul and brings on iconic guests like Sebastian Bach, Victoria Monet, and more, so you’ll get special insight from music industry insiders. If you’re on your way to visit a music buff family member, this is a great way to brush up on some trivia.


A Star-Studded Fiction Podcast

Want a bit of an audiobook and podcast hybrid? Then fiction podcasts are where it’s at, and Homecoming is one of the best of them. The story follows a case worker for the mysterious Homecoming Program, which helps veterans get back on their feet after returning home from war. When she meets her first client, things kick off from there.

The voice acting cast includes Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris, and David Cross, so you’re going to hear some familiar voices along the way. And once you arrive, you can binge the Prime series and see the story you just heard on-screen.


An Interactive Podcast In Which You’re The Detective

Solve describes itself as the podcast for true crime fans who consider themselves armchair detectives who just haven’t been given a chance to crack a case wide open yet. And now you can change that. This is an interactive podcast with each episode encompassing one murder case, all based on true crimes. You’ll receive all the evidence, listen to interrogations of the suspects, and walk through vivid crime scenes to see what details stand out to you. This is a super fun listen if you’re riding with other true crime or crime drama fans who can debate the case with you, and you can see how often you nail the right culprit.


The Latest Antiracist Read

In short, this would be a productive, educational read for your car ride. This essay collection investigates the ways in which many of us uphold and benefit from white supremacy, based on Dabiri’s lived experiences and her studies. By understanding that, Dabiri says we can begin to break down racism by stopping denial and guilt, interrogating whiteness, and redistributing resources.

Kirkus Reviews says What White People Can Do Next is “both a blazing polemic against the concept of race as anything more than a means to create racism as well as a fundamental route toward active unification…A must-read for anyone seeking to be an agent of much-needed societal change.”


A Family Drama Set In The ‘70s

A new release that revolves around families coming together at the holidays with potentially disastrous effects? Say no more.

Jonathan Franzen is known for creating characters that feel like real people, and whether or not you’ve read his other works (like The Corrections and Purity, to name a couple), you’re bound to enjoy this novel, released in October 2021. In Crossroads, Franzen transports us to Chicago in 1971, just days before Christmas, as a pastor and his wife are leaning towards divorce. Their oldest son is on the way home from college for the holidays with some news his dad won’t like. Meanwhile, his younger siblings are being sucked into the ‘70s countercultures.


A Podcast By Tweens, For Tweens

Riding with little listeners in the car? You can listen to kid-friendly podcasts without feeling like your brain is turning to absolute mush (and actually, these stories sound genuinely interesting). Mic Drop shares first-person stories from the tweens and teenagers who lived them, like a 12-year-old self-published sci-fi author, or a young girl taking on…


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