Whether you’re seasoned travel companions, or you’re only recently deep in the throes of love, traveling presents all kinds of opportunities for conflict and frustration—but also for some serious eye-opening conversations and bonding.
To make things super easy on the travel-weary partners, we’ve rounded up not just specific podcasts—but specific podcasts episodes that will, at the very least, spark some interesting conversation, and might even make waiting in traffic with your S.O. a blissful experience.
01. For When You’re Ready to Nerd Out
Maybe statistics aren’t your thing, but I promise you this Freakonomics episode is worth listening to. The host, Stephen Dubner, first delves into the ways marriage has changed in the past 50 years (spoiler alert: it’s a lot) and then looks into common marital myths, including challenging the “50% of marriages end in divorce” statistic, repeated indiscriminately everywhere. They also unabashedly explore how the institution of marriage is generally perceived these days, and contrast it with its traditional purpose. If you love the banter this podcast brings, you’re in luck because there’s a “Part 2” to this segment too.
02. For When You Want Some Solid Romantic Insights
Art of Manliness’ Brett McKay interviews the authors of F*ck Love, the father-daughter duo Michael and Sarah Bennett. And despite the irreverent title of their book, their advice is actually very sound, and surprisingly, a bit old-fashioned. In this podcast, they explain some fascinating, but also slightly counter-cultural, research, such as why emotions aren’t always the best way to determine the health of the relationship, as well as what kind of red flags or positive qualities you might want to keep an eye out for.
03. For When You Want to Master the Art of Conversation
Sometimes couples find themselves in a perpetual cycle of chatting about absolutely nothing. And this pattern, asides from making things pretty boring, can also cause some serious disconnect, as it doesn’t allow for real conversations or intimacy to breakthrough. Verily contributor and co-founder of ForBetter.us, Zach Brittle, hosts this podcast with Laura Heck, as they explore how to surmount this prolific, yet really problematic communication issue.
04. For When You Have Tissues
For many couples, grief over a lost child can destroy intimacy. Ryan and Amy Green certainly suffered when they lost their youngest, Joel, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly after his first birthday. However, they found a very unconventional and creative way to deal with his passing: by building their emotional experience into a video game. Whether you think this podcast episode by Radiolab sounds insane or incredible, you’ll enjoy the listen, as you’re reminded of the beauty and sorrows of love. Just be wary, as your tear ducts will be triggered.
05. For When You Want a Mind-Bending Story
Sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of what’s at stake in an intimate relationship. And often the best way to discover this is to listen to other people’s stories, problems, and revelations—as far-out or outrageous as they may be. Hosted by Ira Glass, the first act in this piece titled The Perils of Intimacy from This American Life will remind you not to take your trust in each other for granted, as you listen to a story where a woman’s identity is stolen.
06. For When You’re Concerned About Cash
If you’re traveling for the holidays, there’s a good chance that you’ve looked at your bank account once or twice, and were, erm, a little concerned. Whether you share a savings account or not, you’ll enjoy the lighthearted conversation of these two money and marriage experts, Derek and Carrie Olsen as they talk, or rather, humorously argue in their podcast Better Conversations on Money and Marriage, about their different views when it comes to a rarely discussed point of contention: how to spend money on gifts during the holidays.
07. For When You Want to Prepare For Family Drama
So we all know our families affect our perception of marriage and relationships. But often, we don’t know exactly how or in what capacity they’ve influenced us (for better or for worse). This podcast titled Marriage Starts at Birth by Stronger Marriages explores how deeply connected our own relationships are to the lives and choices of our parents—and more importantly, how to deal with it.
08. For When You Want to Escape
The podcast series Imaginary Worlds interviews author Helene Wecker who penned The Golem and The Jinni, a story of two mythological creatures: a Jinni (the correct Arabic term for a genie) and a Golem (a creature made of clay who is built to avenge the Jews), who meet in the early 20th century in New York City. The crazy part? This story is actually based on the cultural nuances between herself, a Jewish American, and her husband, an Arab American. While the fictional characters aren’t romantic, this piece will remind you how inspirational, and mind-opening, a romantic relationship can really be.
09. For When You Want An Alternative View of Romance
If you haven’t noticed, arranged marriages are definitely not our culture’s thing. But for the types of cultures that embrace this ancient form of matchmaking, it actually seems to work—making us wonder about the nuances of romantic love and the factors that go into making a marriage harmonious. The podcast The Heart shares a personal story on arranged marriages titled, First Comes Marriage.
10. For When You’re Concerned About the ‘Soul Mate’ Thing
We’ve all heard about the concept of “soul mates.” You know, that there is a particular someone out there who is meant solely for just us, and when we meet, everything will click into place. The #StayMarried Podcast hosts, Tony and Michelle, explore the concept of “Soul Mates” in answering a listener’s question: “How do I know if we’re meant to be together or if it’s for the best if we go our separate ways?”