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These podcasts will take you around the world without ever having to board an airplane.

At this point in the year — and the pandemic — the desire to escape to a place far away might be overwhelming. Even with so many borders closed, podcasts can transport you elsewhere, making them a good alternative to real, out-of-the-house travel. Here’s a collection of audio experiences that are – almost – as immersive as exploring the great wide world out there. 

Pindrop

If a place on a map could give a TED Talk, what would it sound like? That’s what host Saleem Reshamwala seeks to find out in each episode of “Pindrop.” Join him on his global expedition for stories and people around the world who are creatively working to make their communities better, like the Mexico City masked vigilante protecting his fellow citizens from traffic accidents. 

Rough Translation

This NPR podcast has promised to “take you places” since it debuted in 2017. Each episode shows listeners how the same subject is perceived around the world. Take some U.S. residents’ refusal to wear face masks. In the “From Niqab to N95” episode, host Gregory Warner dives into how that debate is playing out in France, where the discussion about covering one’s face in public was highly politicized and tinged with Islamophobia even before the pandemic. 

Ochenta Stories

From the studio that makes the multilingual immigrant narrative-fiction podcast “Mija” comes “Ochenta Stories,” which cobbles together dispatches from a planet in quarantine. Each episode is a different audio-maker’s answer to this question: “What do you want to hear after this pandemic is over?” Those who enjoy immersion language learning will love how each story is retold in each episode, but in another language.  

Extremities

After months of staring at your own four walls, you might feel you need to get away to the most remote place in the world. Enter “Extremities,” a podcast that takes you on an odyssey to some of the most distant reaches on Earth. Season 1 is a six-episode journey to Pitcairn Island, a dot in the South Pacific Ocean between Chile and Australia. Travel with host Sam Denby to learn the histories and local legends of each territory. 

Trekking Nepal: Your Adventure Guide

Most of us will never climb the world’s highest mountains. But this audio diary hosted by a married couple as they travel to and through Nepal and the Himalayas can give you some insight. Jason Moore and Anne Dorthe bring you along on every step and bump of their adventure as they visit Kathmandu and Tibetan Buddhist villages. 

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