Our favorite books, movies, shows, and podcasts for travelers in need of a mental getaway.
If you’re like us and find yourself getting “travel sick” more often than homesick, we’re here to tell you that the adventure doesn’t have to end just because you don’t have any upcoming trips on your calendar. Let’s hear it for escapism!
Your body may be in one place, but that doesn’t mean your mind can’t be on the go. Below, we’ve rounded up the best movies, books, shows, and podcasts to take you from your couch to anywhere across space and time.
Investigating True Crime and Human Nature
I recently watched the season one of True Detective for the first time and can attest that there is truly nothing more transporting than Matthew McConaughey’s seven-mile stare. Plus, a good whodunnit is wonderfully all-consuming.
I’m reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Nothing like time traveling alongside humanity over tens of thousands of years! Plus, it’s a good reminder that a crisis is also an opportunity for innovation. —Ally Betker; Editorial Director
Western Classics and Woo-Woo Workbooks
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty and True Grit by Charles Portis. These classic Western novels are full of adventure, transporting you in both time and space with characters that practically jump off the page. Truly though, if you’ve been looking to kickstart a creative project, there’s never been a better time to start The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This workbook will hand-hold you through a three-month journey of creative self-discovery. It sounds woo-woo and it is—but strange times call for strange measures. It’s time to surrender, my friends. —Annie Werner; Managing Editor, Digital
Futuristic Flicks and Eerily Accurate Shows
Some folks prefer to reminisce on the past or delve into fantasy. Instead, I’m flinging myself into the world of tomorrow and imagining what life for future humans might be like. At the top of my “to watch” list are Bladerunner 2049, Tron, and Ready Player One, all critically-acclaimed films whose plots may be extraordinary, but whose technological advancements don’t seem too far-flung to be impossible. While these futures may be more dystopian than is ideal, they sure do look cool.
Bonus round: For a show with an all-star cast that hits almost too close to home, near-future show Years and Years on HBO is criminally underrated and shockingly realistic. —Tiana Attride; Editorial Assistant
A Secret Story We’re Ready to Share
The Secret History swept me out of my body and dropped me in the idyll that is New England in spring. This is a college novel, so you’ll see dorm rooms and historic buildings and sloppy parties that are as rich as the descriptions of the landscapes. Each setting and season is as transporting as the last. If that’s not enough to sell you, The Secret History is full of characters that are simultaneously despicable and winning, very bad behavior, secrets (oh, the secrets!), and weird love polygons. —Chloe Scheffe; Art Director
Take a Cinematic Stroll Down Memory Lane
Whenever I need truly transporting content, my first stop is always Back to the Future. At age 7, I could think of nothing better than riding a skateboard with Michael J. Fox and grabbing a milkshake at the local diner. While Marty McFly is doing a bit more traveling than I am at the moment, the film always takes me on a stroll down memory lane.
For an out-of-body experience, I’ll put on Oneohtrix Point Never’s Age Of. Full disclosure, it is a touch scary and not what you’d call a “good time.” However, I find it cleansing, exquisite, and always worth a listen. —Natalie Shields; Senior Graphic Designer
Listen to Old Hollywood’s Shocking Tales
As a movie lover, nothing helps me ”time travel” better than the podcast You Must Remember This, which host Karina Longworth describes as “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” So, where to begin? I’d say her splashiest, most ambitious season is “Charles Manson’s Hollywood,” 12 riveting episodes about the infamous cult leader that’ll chill you to the bone. (Word to the wise: don’t listen to it late at night.) For something less intense and murder-y, listen to her most recent (guest-narrated) season called “Make Me Over,” which dives into the strange, bizarre, and shocking beauty standards that Hollywood’s most iconic stars endured back in their day. –Jinnie Lee; Senior Copywriter, Content
Books to Help You Travel Within
Let’s face it: Being alone for more than 30 seconds is daunting, restless, confusing, and quite new for many of us. As we’re isolating for who-knows-how-long, we’re learning what it means to truly sit with ourselves. To aid in that inward journey, I’ve been reading Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance. It is as self-help as you fear it would be, and I am here for it. It has kept my mind attuned to everything that is happening within me (Hint: the anxiety is OK! The fear is OK! The hope is OK! You are OK!) and given me the perspective to accept the moment as it is. There is so much of me to explore during this time, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do so. —Timothy Shivers; Photographer