Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: “The Indie Travel Podcast”

Posted by Maximum Fun on 12th July 2009

Though your Podthinker may be slightly biased on this front, it’s easy to imagine the podcast becoming the serious traveler’s medium of choice. After all, iPods, Zunes, iRivers and such are only shrinking in size and growing in data capacity; we’ll surely be stuffing the entire history of audio entertainment onto sub-matchbook trinkets in a year or two. And even as we speak, all but the most benighted hamlets afford at least some amount of internet coverage, allowing the peripatetic podcast listener to log on just long enough to pull down the newest episodes of everything and be on their merry way to wherever, their ears absorbing valuable spoken and musical information all the while.

Full-time traveler Craig Martin made a similarly enticing point on his own podcast: there’s nothing like downloading a few hours of podcast-y material — chat shows, free audio books and the like — and taking it all in while gazing out the window of a train as vista after scenic European vista drifts by. He and his wife Linda have taken the next bold step toward unifying travel and the podcast medium with The Indie Travel Podcast [iTunes link], their program about world traveling by world travelers and for world travelers — or, like your Podthinker, aspiring ones. Weary of stable homes, regular lobs and steady incomes, this New Zealand couple one day decided to spend their lives simply traveling at all times, trekking from country to country by whatever means of transport happens to be available and teaching English along the way to pay the bills. They’re living the dream, or at least their dream.

While this particular style of ultra-spontanous perpetual nomadism won’t be to everyone’s traveling taste — it is not, admittedly, quite to your Podthinker’s, who shudders at the thought of carting his DJ gear all the way to, say, Tonga — Craig and Linda cover all sorts of angles on travel, from reports on (and from) specific cities to reviews of gear and guidebooks to strategies for obtaning lodging and transport to conversations, usually Skype-based, with other bigtime travelers. The variety would seem to ensure at least something of interest to all active or aspiring globetrotters every few episodes. Even the span of the most recent fifteen includes an interview about Tokyo with an expat residing there [MP3], a list of fifteen items essential to pack for an around-the-world journey [MP3], a review of Craig and Linda’s own hometown of Auckland [MP3] (which is what drew your Podthinker, who’s planning a New Zealand trip, to the program in the first place) and a discussion of the pros and cons of the many and varied means of conveyance open to the modern traveler [MP3].

The utilitarian value of The Indie Travel Podcast is, needless to say, quite high, and its mien is more than welcoming: Craig has one of the friendliest, gentlest voices I’ve heard in podcasting, and the laptop-based production imbues the proceedings with a hardy DIY feel. But it must be said that the show’s various forms of sponsorship — giveaways, contests, mentions of and spliced-in segments from travel suppliers — cloud the experience a bit. There’s also an eerie cast of unreflectiveness to most of the voices heard on the podcast; while the participants are all respectable travelers, the tales of their journeys hew with shocking loyalty to flat, meaningless adjectives like “good,” “great,” “awesome,” “cool,” “mad” and “insane,” rarely reaching beyond the surface. Painful as it is to hear Jeff Koons’ Puppy described simply “enormous” and “weird,” though, the fact remains that Craig and Linda have been to Bilbao to see it. Your Podthinker hasn’t.

Vital stats:
Format: all things travel
Running since: 2006
Duration: 10m-45m
Frequency: weekly (depending upon whether Craig and Linda can find a decent net connection)
Archive available on iTunes: last 17 only

[Questions, comments, ideas, suggestions or threats for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]