Killing Time on Buses & A List of Great Podcasts

by Jason -- June 1, 2010

Overland travel has become a staple of our trip. Having a lot of time but not a lot of money lends itself to cheap bus rides and long ferry rides rather than expensive, fast flights. I’m proud to say that Sharon and I have traveled overland from Hong Kong to Thailand and then from southern China to Japan. (We did cheat though and take a plane from Bangkok to Guangzhou, China.) In this post I’ll share why we prefer overland travel versus flying as well as some tips on killing time while on the road.

Why do we prefer traveling overland to flying?

  • It’s better for the environment to take a bus or train rather than a plane (I think).
  • Driving, rather than flying, allows you to see the countryside that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen
  • Traveling like the locals makes you connect a little bit more with your destination.
  • Finally, it’s usually cheaper.

The downside of traveling overland, however, is how long it takes. After doing it for a while I’m happy to say that I’ve become a lot better at making the time fly by while being productive (being constantly productive – a rather bittersweet obsession I have). My primary method of killing time is listening to podcasts.

Awesome Podcasts

A podcast is essentially a radio show downloaded from the Internet. Podcasts are great for buses and trains because you avoid the motion sickness often felt from reading and you’re able to enjoy the passing scenery. Here are a few of my favorite podcasts in no particular order:

Note: All links below should automatically subscribe you to the podcast via iTunes.

  • The Economist: The Week Ahead – A short, weekly podcast where they discuss the upcoming major events of the world. It’s tough to stay on top of the news while on the road, and I find this to be a pretty good way to do so. I still, however, need to find a podcast that summarizes the previous week’s top newstories.
  • TED TalksTED is an awesome organization that asks extremely bright people to talk about the topics they’re most passionate about. The talks are usually less than 20 minutes.
  • Stuff You Should Know – Excellent podcast that discuses very random but interesting subjects; things that you often think about on a whim but never look up. Each podcast is around a half-hour. Recent topics have included how hard is it to steal a work of art, what makes a genius and how hiccups work.
  • Mixergy – Five times a week, Andrew Warner interviews successful entrepreneurs. The interviews are outstanding. He asks great questions and really tries to find out how they do what they do so others can learn the tricks of the trade and hopefully replicate their success. Interviews can be long, some going as long as 90 minutes, but are always worth it.
  • WNYC’s Radiolab - Similar to “Stuff You Should Know”, in that they cover a wide variety of subjects. However, I find these podcasts to be more polished and much more in-depth. Their recent shows on the physical and mental limits of humans and Lucy the chimp were awesome.

The easiest way to subscribe to a podcast is via iTunes. Go into the store and subscribe. They’re free and will automatically download and transfer new episodes to your iPod/iPhone/iPad.

Other Offline Time-Killers

In addition to podcasts, there are many things to be accomplished on my laptop, despite being offline.

  • Offline Gmail – Google has a great add-on to Gmail that allows you to download all of your email offline and then respond to emails. Everything is automatically synced the next time you connect. Go into “Settings” and then “Offline” to activate it.
  • Organizing Photos – I have become a huge fan of Google’s Picasa software on this trip. Pictures are automatically tagged through facial recognition, uploading to any photo sharing site is as easy as pushing one button, and the pictures stay nice and organized.
  • Offline Google Reader – Byline is an excellent iPhone/iPod Touch application that downloads all of the latest posts from the blogs you follow, allowing you to read them at your leisure with or without an Internet connection. The app is $3.99 however.
  • Finally, I write – A recurring productivity tip is to shut off your email and Internet connection when you’re ready to get seroius about getting work done. I’ve been quite surprised with how much writing and/or studying I can accomplish when I don’t have access to the Internet.

Do you know of any great podcasts? Or do you have any tips for killing time while on the road? Let me know, leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

Be awesome and help us share:

7 Responses to “Killing Time on Buses & A List of Great Podcasts”

  1. Looks like I just bought byline and am looking into using this goo0gle Picasa…. :) thank you for the tips!!!

  2. You’re very welcome! Thank you for being our #1 fan!

  3. Of course!!! :) Yea, my work computer just decided to block, but I can use it in sections of 10 minutes at a time, six times a day…well, I guess now I can still read everything on my iphone :D

  4. World Have Your Say from the BBC network is a good podcast too. Kinda long, but they bring in experts to talk about various world issues, and people can phone, email, text, etc to comment/discuss.

    Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me from NPR. Funny take on current events.

    Fresh Air from NPR. Focus on arts and entertainment. Some great interviews!

    I love Stuff You Should Know. I usually listen to those podcasts when I run. Nerdy, but it’s nice to laugh!

    Thanks guys! PS. the Engrish photos were hilarious! Thanks!

  5. I listen to a lot of audio books in the car. I use CDs, but I know you can download them too.

    As for TED, I subscribe to them on YouTube and watch the videos when I cook dinner. Best place to get new ideas.

  6. Lindsey - Awesome! Thanks for the podcast advice, I’ll definitely check those out! And that’s funny that you listen to stuff you should know while you run…I definitely do the same. It makes time pass much faster than listening to music.

    Vivian - Totally agree with you on TED! And oddly, Sharon and I also watch the video’s while we prepare dinner. Great minds think alike?

  7. Thanx for this list. I love podcasts. I like listening to Theatre of the Mind by Kelly Howell a night.

    Glad to seem there are avid podcast listeners as my new online venture is in podcasting.

    Happy Holiday

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