In a thick British accent, the travel podcast hosts’ disembodied voices discuss camping and ‘caravanning’ in the UK, ‘how not to make yourself smell of grease for a complete weekend,’ and the Cocktail of the Week (the Mosquito – a Mojito with a bite!).
The two hosts, who sound a bit like Sean Connery and Julie Andrews, are bantering about camping spots in the UK and the best kind of cocktails to mix up once you’ve arrived at your prime spot at one of the gorgeous ‘lochs’ on their list.
Podcasting has come of age in a flash. Less than two years ago, the term wasn’t even invented. A year ago, there were perhaps 5000 individuals podcasting out of their basements, or from a laptop at a local pancake house.
This year, with major companies joining the podcasting passion and tens of millions of online listeners latching on, podcasting has come of age. So much so, that ‘podcasting’ is the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year.
When you dip your toe in the podcasting waters, you’ll come up with audio programs that range from exquisitely amateurish and poorly produced, to professionally produced shows with music, sound effects, high-profile guests and thousands of listeners.
Choosing which podcast is worth listening to is a bit like groping for the light switch in a pitch-black room. You have to knock over a few water glasses and stub your toe before finding one that is helpful to your travel itinerary.
In the past few days, I’ve listened to travel podcasts on the best roller coasters in the world, camping and caravanning in the UK [http://www.campsitepodcast.com/], life in Japan for those who aren’t Japanese [http://www.joshinjapan.com], life in rural Australia, budget travel [http://redeyeradioshow.com] (exploring the world one dollar at a time!), amateur travel , South African travel and tourism information.
Virgin Travel publishes several travel podcasts at virginatlantic.loudish.com, [http://virginatlantic.loudish.com] focusing on the specific locations of Cuba, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Las Vegas, New York and Shanghai.
iToors.com is home to a gathering of some of the most professional sounding and most informative travel podcasts. Recently I took a travel podcast ‘toor’ of Prague, Czechoslovakia, where Wolfgang Mozart was loved and revered, his music ‘blowing down a storm.’ When Mozart died in 1791 at the age of 35, only a handful of friends and family showed up in his hometown of Vienna, Austria, and he was buried in an unmarked grave.
In Prague, though (as I learned from the podcast), 4000 people showed up for a funeral mass in St. Nicholas Cathedral, where the Mozart fans were overflowing into the street.
So not only do you pick up history and travelogues in a convenient podcast, you latch on to travel directions, listen to recordings of local bands or musical talents, and eavesdrop on chats with local shopkeepers or politicos.
The best way to find a travel podcast that suits your desire, whether its for a destination you’re traveling to, or to surreptitiously partake in a local culture, is to navigate online to any podcast directory and do a search for ‘ travel ’ or directly for your destination.
My favorite podcast directories include:
• Podcast.net [http://Podcast.net]
• Podcasts.Yahoo.com [http://Podcasts.Yahoo.com]
• And of course, iTunes music software
You don’t need a portable MP3 player such as an iPod to listen to podcasts, think of the freedom you’d have while strolling the Champs D’Elysee, listening to the history of the famous Arc D’Triomph on your headphones. You may get a few goofy looks, but only from the tourists who just wish they had downloaded a few travel podcasts to carry along with them on their travels !
Listening to and subscribing to podcasts: a podcast is nothing more than an audio file (generally an MP3 file) that is distributed or published via an RSS file. RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is an online distribution tool that allows content to be delivered to your computer without the need for navigating to a website or downloading your email.
As the development of RSS technology progressed, it became possible to include ‘enclosures’ in the RSS feed, such as audio files.
With this technology, MTV pioneer Adam Curry helped pioneer the burgeoning phenomenon of podcasting in late 2004. By summer of 2005, Apple had incorporated the ability to subscribe to podcasts in its popular iTunes music software, which literally turned podcasting into a mainstream medium overnight (within 48 hours of the release of the podcast subscription capability, Apple announced that over a million of its users had subscribed to podcasts).
The easiest way to subscribe to a podcast is to use your iTunes software, although there are other podcast ‘aggregators’ (as they’re referred to in geektown), such as Juice [http://www.juicereceiver.com] and PodSpider.