Family listening along to a podcast in car

Best Podcasts for Family Road Trips in 2021 • Our Globetrotters

Keeping families entertained when you hit the road this summer

When you’re planning a family road trip, it’s best to have a selection of entertainment available. This not only provides much-needed variety, but it also takes the different ages and interests of your family members into consideration.

If you’re like us, you may not want your bub to be glued to their tablet for the duration of the drive, and there are only so many DVDs you can bring with you in the car. So, what other options are there to keep your children engaged and also help you maintain your sanity?

One of our favorite ways to make a long car journey more bearable is by listening to podcasts. Each of our family members has specific podcasts they enjoy listening to individually, and we also have several that we like to experience all together.

In this article, we’ll explore features to look for in different podcasts, things to consider when choosing podcasts, the best apps to use for listening, and a selection of the best podcasts for family road trips by age. No matter their age, everyone is sure to find a topic or series they’ll love.

This post is part of our best road trip advice series – everything you need for tackling long journeys by road with your kids!


Why Listen to Podcasts in the Car?

They don’t take up space

With podcasts, you don’t have to remember to pack anything besides your smartphone. Since most newer vehicles come equipped with Bluetooth, the most equipment you’ll require is an adapter cord. You can also download episodes if you’re going to be travelling in areas with little or no cell service.

There’s a Wide Variety Available

There are many different types of podcasts out there in the digital universe, and they vary in both subject matter and length. Some of the most common kinds of podcasts are:

  • Interviews
  • Panel Shows
  • Non-Fiction Narratives (Think true crime)
  • Storytelling
  • Solo Podcast
  • Conversational

Podcasts vs. Audiobooks

While both podcasts and audiobooks are forms of digitally produced content, they are different in many ways.

Types of Content

Audiobooks are typically professionally recorded versions of books, and the narrator mustn’t vary from the original text. Podcasts, however, can be hosted by many different people with diverse knowledge backgrounds. Going off script is often common, and it adds to the entertainment value of the show.

Cost

While most podcasts are free, many audiobooks must be purchased individually or with a subscription to a digital platform like Audible. There are free audiobooks, of course, but not on the scale of podcasts.

Although most podcast listening apps are free, many of them contain ads. Depending on the app, the ads may help you find additional podcasts to listen to. Or they may become annoying because of their frequency. Often, you can upgrade to a paid version to skip the ads.

Concentration Required

As with printed books, it’s often important to listen closely so as not to miss important events in the story. With podcasts, this is not quite as essential. You can still get value out of the content without having to hear every word.

Duration

Audiobooks last for the duration of the book, and sometimes that means hours of recording. Podcasts, on the other hand, are typically broken up into smaller chunks of serialized content.

What to Look For in a Good Family Podcast

If you’re looking for family podcasts that everyone can listen to, there are a few factors to consider:

Intended Audience

Yes, you are attempting to find a single podcast that will appeal to everyone in your vehicle. However, you’ll want to make sure that the podcast’s content is appropriate for younger ages. Some podcast hosts can get a little off-color, and you may be uncomfortable exposing children to that material. One great thing about podcasts for kids is that the whole family can get something out of each episode, so those are often a solid starting point.

Subject Matter

If you’re searching for family podcasts for road trips, the subject, well, matters. An older child may be interested in true crime stories, while your youngest might currently be obsessed with dinosaurs. Try to find podcasts with a wide variety of topics to choose from to keep everyone engaged.

Where Can I Find Podcasts?

You can find almost all podcasts on a selection of listening apps for both Android and Apple devices. Many are available on both, but some can only be found on one platform or another.

Free Podcast Apps for Both iOS and Android

Free Podcast Apps for iOS

Free Podcast Apps for Android

Family Podcast vs. Listening Individually

When looking for the best podcasts for road trips, some might be better to listen to as a family versus individually. This is why it’s important to take each person’s age and interests into account. For example, if you have a teen who loves listening to math-based podcasts, but you also have a child in first grade, you may want to find a podcast that covers more general topics.

There also may be times on your road trip when you want younger children to nap, so it’s crucial that everyone is as quiet as possible. This would be another situation where it would be preferable for everyone to listen to their own material.

If you’re looking for devices and headphones that are best for listening to podcasts, we recommend the following:

Best Devices for Listening to Podcasts:

Best Headphones for Listening to Podcasts

When it comes to the best headphones for podcasts, almost any kind will do. We suggest choosing a comfortable wired pair for young children, as it may be a headache when Bluetooth is involved. If you’re in the market for new headphones, here are our favorites for every age group:

What to Consider When Choosing a Podcast

Length

If you’re looking for the best podcasts for long road trips, the length should be at the top of your list of considerations. You can intentionally choose podcasts of different duration to make long stretches seem shorter or keep children entertained for short periods between other activities.

Younger children will obviously have shorter attention spans, so it’s best to pick kids’ podcasts under 20 minutes. For older children, podcasts between 20-45 minutes may be more appropriate. It also depends on your child and their individual attention span.

Types of Podcasts

You’ll also want to consider the type of podcast, meaning that an interview podcast may be more captivating for you, but a serial mystery may be more engaging for your tween or teen. Variety matters here, and that’s why podcasts are so great–there’s something for everyone!

Best Podcasts for Family Road Trips

We’ve gathered some of the best podcasts for each age group, so you don’t have to look far in order to find the perfect podcasts for kids, teens, and the whole family.

Best Podcasts for Toddlers

Sesame Street Podcast

Average Episode Length: 5 minutes

Your toddler can join in songs and stories with the entire Sesame Street gang and learn valuable lessons along the way. Each episode is between five and six minutes long, so it’s perfect for keeping your bub’s attention.

Circle Round

Average Episode Length: 20 minutes

Folktales from around the world come to life in each of Circle Round’s episodes. We love the cultural diversity of this podcast for kids, and your toddler will love listening to each magical story.

Wow in the World

Average Episode Length: 28 minutes

Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas are the hosts of this wild and wacky podcast about the powers of science and technology. You can even browse episodes by age group and topic, so this is a fabulous option for older children as well.

Best Podcasts for Preschoolers

Story Pirates

Average Episode Length: 35 minutes

The best part about this podcast is that the stories featured in each episode are written by kids worldwide. Story Pirates is all about celebrating the creativity of young people and emphasizing the power of imagination.

Noodle Loaf

Average Episode Length: 10 minutes

Noodle Loaf definitely belongs on the list of best funny podcasts for kids. Each interactive episode is filled with silly yet educational songs from musician Dan Saks, and it’s impossible not to laugh when joining in with songs like Peck of Pumpkin Poodle and Funky Shades.

Aaron’s World Podcast

Average Episode Length: 10-20 minutes

If your preschooler loves dinosaurs, you should check out Aaron’s World, a podcast all about prehistoric creatures, time travel, and even robots! Each episode is both educational and entertaining.

Best Podcasts for Grade School

But Why? A Podcast for Curious Kids

Average Episode Length: 25 minutes

The whole family can learn something new from this educational podcast all about kids’ most burning questions. Each episode tackles a child’s question, and the discussions are both exciting and humorous.

Tumble

Average Episode Length: 17 minutes

Tumble is an educational podcast all about the wonders of science. It’s hosted by science journalist Lindsay Patterson and teacher Marshall Escamilla, and they explore topics from How to Name a Galaxy to The Science of Snot.

Stories Podcast

Average Episode Length: 20 minutes

If you’re planning on any nighttime driving, this is one of the best bedtime podcasts for kids when it’s just not possible to pull over and read a book. Your child can listen to familiar stories, such as Peter Rabbit and Snow White, as well as entirely original tales.

Hero Hotel

Average Episode Length: 25 minutes

A hotel for superheroes? Now, this is something everyone in the family can get on board with. Join Chet Zebrowski on his adventures working at his grandmother’s superhero hotel. The only downside of this podcast for kids is that it requires a paid subscription for unlimited access.

Best Podcasts for Tweens

Young Ben Franklin

Average Episode Length: 15 minutes

It’s hard to imagine Benjamin Franklin as a 13-year-old boy, but this historically-based podcast does just that. Your tween will love following young Ben as he and his friends solve mysteries and search for treasure in colonial Boston.

Six Minutes Podcast

Average Episode Length: 6 minutes

Your tween won’t be able to listen to just one episode in this riveting podcast series about a young girl’s extraordinary quest for truth and identity. Join Holiday and her super cool hoverboard as she begins to discover exactly what she’s capable of.

Treasure Island 2020

Average Episode Length: 28 minutes

A classic novel comes to life in this modern retelling of Treasure Island, where an ordinary boy embarks on an unforgettable quest involving time-travelling pirates and a portal to the past. 

The Unexplained Disappearance of Mars Patel

Average Episode Length: 15 minutes

Mars Patel and his friends find more than they bargain for when they set out on a search for two missing friends. If your tween loves mysteries, they’ll soon become obsessed with this serial mystery that middle-grade kids perform.

Find more tips for entertaining your tweens on long trips here

Best Podcasts for Teens

#WhoWouldWin Podcast

Average Episode Length: 60 minutes

Have you ever wondered who would win in a battle between the Muppets and characters from Sesame Street? This is precisely the sort of question that hosts James Gavsie and Ray Stakenas debate in each hilarious episode.

Dear Hank and John

Average Episode Length: 45 minutes

Fans of John Green’s novels will become obsessed with this podcast hosted by John and his brother, Hank. They explore hilarious and interesting questions in each episode, such as why crisp packet wrappers are so crispy and what happens when a cemetery goes bankrupt.

Teen Girl Talk

Average Episode Length: 20-60 minutes

If your teenage daughter is crying boredom, introduce her to this made-for-girls podcast hosted by Franklin and Susie Cota. They talk all about movies, tv shows, and books for young adults and often go off the rails into something else entirely. You may want to preview the content yourself, as each episode may contain sensitive or triggering material for some teens.

Best Podcasts for the Whole Family

The Past & The Curious

Average Episode Length: 30 minutes

Whether or not everyone in your family is a history buff, everyone can find something interesting in this podcast series. Your kids will quickly add this to their list of best podcasts for long drives as they learn about little-known historical figures such as Typhoid Mary and how bloomers changed women’s lives forever.

Short and Curly

Average Episode Length: 20 minutes

Every member of your family will have an opinion on the topics explored in each of Short and Curly’s podcast episodes. Join hosts Molly Daniels and Carl Smith as they debate questions like, “Is it ever okay to fight back against a bully?” and “Can you trust a robot?”

Brains On

Average Episode Length: 30 minutes

Molly Bloom invites new co-hosts each week with this science podcast for the whole family. Join them as they discuss the answers to listener-based questions that everyone can learn from. There’s always something new, engaging, and often humorous.


More road trip entertainment

We hope you’ll find some great new and entertaining ideas to get hooked on this summer – be it on the road or when you can each find some quiet time to yourselves, podcasts are a superb way to unwind relax and escape to different worlds.

You may also be interested in checking out:

You’ll also find road trip travel tips on our blog covering everything from toddler survival tips to the 45 essentials we always look to have packed in our car.


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