How to Start a Travel Podcast for FREE (Like I Did!)

May 22, 2021 | 0 comments

Been wanting to start your travel podcast?

You’ve come to the right place to find out how to start a travel podcast for free — as I did with mine, Dream To Destination. In this article, we’ll go step by step through choosing a niche, your podcast cover art, picking a podcast host, the best podcast microphone, and more.

One of the biggest things this article will offer those looking to start a travel podcast specifically is that I am letting you know how I find guests in the travel podcasting niche. That’s in Tip #5, How to Find Podcast Guests, which you can jump ahead to if you’d like.

In addition to that tip, there are nine other tips that will help you figure out how to start a podcast for free. Ready to find out what they are?! Let’s get to it, starting with the most important question of them all — Why do you want to start a podcast?

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how to start a travel podcast

Start With Why

I saw an interview with Madonna years ago where she said something along the lines of “I didn’t start singing because I had the greatest voice in the world. I started singing because I had something to say.” I tried hard to find that interview, but I couldn’t; so you’ll have to trust me!

The point here remains: for Madonna, her “Why” was that she had something to say, so she started singing. She didn’t wait to have a great voice to put her message out there. Rather, she leveraged her Why — and the rest is history for the Queen of Pop.

Why Start Your Podcast?

Have you thought about Why you want to do a podcast? If not, this really is the place to start your travel podcasting journey. In short, the Why is your purpose or your mission statement.

podfade: (noun) when a podcast suddenly stops releasing new content without a final show or an announcement

According to AmplifiMedia, most podcasts “podfade” by their seventh episode. Among the reasons this happens is not having a clear reason Why you’re podcasting to begin with. When you have a clear Why for making the podcast, it can keep you going when you want to quit.

how to start a travel podcast

Defining Your Podcast Niche

Now that you know Why you’re starting a podcast — Who do you hope will listen to it? If you could invent the perfect lister, Who are they? What’s their name? What other podcasts do they like? What’s their favorite book? In short, don’t be afraid to get specific with your Who.

When you know Who you want to listen to your content, you’re on your way to defining your podcast’s niche. With your ideal listener in mind, you’ll tailor your content to them and the topic(s) that interest them.

“The Riches are in the Niches”

When wanting to start a travel podcast, the obvious topic you’ll be covering is of course, travel. However, there’s a popular saying that “the riches are in the niches,” and I agree.

For my own podcast, Dream To Destination, my niche is solo female travel in Mexico, which is something I did for one year so I have a lot to say about it! If you’re wondering, But isn’t that a small demographic? The answer is yes — and that’s a great thing.

why niche down?

The main argument for niching down is that there are already a lot of established general travel podcasts. Because of this, it will be much harder for your brand new general travel podcast to ever get noticed.

With a general travel podcast, you’re competing against very big names in the travel podcasting world, like Rick Steves, “Traveling Jackie,” the Women Who Travel podcast by Conde Nast, and Zero To Travel, the top travel podcast.

Quite frankly, you won’t be able to compete with those podcasts any time soon — So why try? You can, however, leverage a niche to grow your listener count quickly. Here are some examples of travel podcast niches, though anything can be a niche:

  • European Travel
  • California Travel
  • Disney Travel
  • Cruise Travel
  • Traveling With Disabilities
  • Traveling With Kids
  • Traveling Over 50
  • BIPOC Travel
  • Budget Travel
  • Van Life Travel
  • Couples Travel
  • Digital Nomad Travel
  • Foodie Travel
  • Hiking Travel

how to start a travel podcast

What kind of podcast will it be?

As this is your podcast, you can do whatever you want with it! However, having a game plan when you’re starting out will really help keep focus. Below you will discover six podcast styles, and while many travel podcasts combine them all, they often have a primary type so their audience knows what to expect.

Monologue Podcasts

This is the easiest way to make a travel podcast, as it’s just you recording at whatever time works best for you. Monologue podcasts are convenient because you don’t have to find a guest, set a time to record with the guest, and prepare for interviewing the guest. However, if you’re not knowledgeable and clear on that episode’s message, it can seem like you’re rambling.

Here’s an example of this style of travel podcast where I talk about visiting Tulum on a budget (one of the more expensive Mexico travel destinations): 

Conversational Podcasts

Some travel podcasts have two hosts, and the episodes are essentially the same two people (or more) people having a conversation about the same topic. With conversational podcasts, you can also integrate interview guests, and both hosts can share interviewing duties. 

Here’s a great example of this style of travel podcast:

Interview Podcasts

Interview podcasts are another option, and as an avid podcast listener myself, these feel the most “official.”

In my Dream To Destination podcast, I interview solo female travelers about their personal experiences traveling alone, and as a solo female traveler myself, we’re both essentially experts on the topic. For a listener, it’s very appealing to hear from two experts at once.

Though I do these myself, it’s not always to coordinate interview guests and it’s not always easy to work around one anothers’ schedule so we can actually record. For this reason, I combine interviews podcasts with monologue podcasts on my show.

Here’s a great example of this style of travel podcast where I interview a fellow solo female traveler:

Travel Stories/Travelogues

Travelogue podcasts are basically when a guest tells their own personal story about travel. This can be anything really — a truly remarkable travel story, a hilarious travel mishap, a story that starts out tragic but has a happy ending, an in-depth deep dive on a particular country, etc.

With these, you’ll want your guests to be as raw, real and emotional as is comfortable for them. In great travelogues, your listener is transported to the world the guest is describing.

Here’s a great example of this style of travel podcast, all about funny travel mishaps:

Infotainment Podcasts

This style is what you get when you combine traditional news reporting and journalism with entertainment. These tend to be the most complex to produce, but also tend to be the most successful of all podcasts.

Here’s a great example of this style of travel podcast:

Repurposed Content Podcasts

In this format, the host uses existing content to make the podcast. I do this by making episodes using blog posts I have already written as another way to get my existing content out there to those who prefer listening to podcasts to reading blogs. 

Below is an example of this style of travel podcast, in which I made an episode based around this collaborative post that I contributed to (with consent from the blog owner). In the podcast, I reference both what I contributed to the blog, and the contributions of the other bloggers as well.

how to start a travel podcast

Your Podcast Cover Art

Take a look at the best travel podcasts on Apple Podcasts ⤵ What do you notice about them? Here are a few common design elements the top podcasts all share: bright colors, only a few words of text, large easy-to-read font, image of the host, something “travel” related like a globe, suitcase or plane.

Now, you can always do whatever you want with your own podcast art — but if something seems to be working, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. As the images show very small in podcast searches, there’s a reason this esthetic works.

Create a Cover in Anchor (FREE Option)

In Tip #6 on How to Find A Podcast Host, you’ll learn more about Anchor, which I use as my podcast host since it’s free. For now, know that you can also use Anchor to create a very simple podcast cover art design for yourself — also for free.

Using a Canva Template (Some FREE Options)

If you aren’t familiar with Canva, it’s a really great tool for easily creating graphic designs, Pinterest pins and more. They also have podcasts templates you can just alter to fit your needs. If you’re going to use Canva to make your cover art, make sure it’s in the correct podcast specs — 3000px X 3000px.

🤑 Canva Pro Free Trial: You can try Canva Pro FREE for 30 days.

Canva podcast cover art templates: You can easily change the text to display your podcast’s name, but the overall design is done for you.

Fiverr, Upwork & 99 Designs

Another option is to pay a designer to make your podcast cover art. If you know one, that’s great, but if not you can easily hire someone online.

On sites like Fiverr and UpWork, you can find someone for about $25-45USD for a simple but professionally-made design. Another site, 99 Designs, has a reputation for attracting better, but more expensive designers, so you might spend $50-75USD on there.

how to start a travel podcast

How to Find Podcast Guests

Depending on your niche and the topics you’re covering, you might actually know a good amount of people you can interview on your podcast. This might be a great place to start, as friends will be more lenient with you being new to podcasting!

Facebook Groups

As a travel blogger, I am in several Facebook groups with other female travelers. The two biggest ones are Wandering Women Travel Bloggers and Women Travel Creators, and they are great places to find podcast guests, as everyone in them is a travel writer.

Google & Pinterest 

There’s also simply using Google or Pinterest to find a blog about a topic you want to make an episode about, and contacting the blog’s author. You can contact them via their contact form on the site, email address (if it’s listed), or even on their Instagram.

The way I would do this is, say I want to do an episode about tips for saving money to travel. I’d head to Google and/or Pinterest, search “how to save for travel,” read a few posts, and then contact the person who’s content I resonated most with.

Other Travel Podcasters 

Most podcasters love being on other peoples’ podcasts. This usually leads to podcast interview swaps where you each record an episode for each other’s podcasts. As podcasts are the best way to find out about other podcasts, you can both potentially expand your own audiences on each other’s shows.

Here are some FB groups you can join to network with other podcasters (though not everyone’s in the travel niche):

Offer your guest something to incentivize them to be on your podcast — like this do-follow link back to their blogwhich I have on my episode show list page.
how to start a travel podcast

Offer Incentives for Your Guests 

As podcasts guests are pretty much never paid, make it worth their while to sacrifice their time for your podcast. I do this in a few ways:

1. Social Media Plug: I allow all guests to plug their social media and blog at the end of the episode.

Before signing off, I’ll ask How can listeners connect with you online? — and let the guest mention their social media, podcast (if they have one), blog name, etc.

2. Social Media Promotion: I make a social media post in Canva that goes to my Instagram and Facebook each Tuesday (to use the popular #TravelTuesday hashtag), and I tag my guest.

3. Do-Follow Link: I have two blog posts that I keep updating as I make more episodes — one is for the solo female travel podcast episodes, and one for the Mexico podcast episodes.

As I use other bloggers’ posts as episode inspiration, I put a do-follow link to the blog we discuss in the episode.

Made in Canva, I use this graphic to promote the podcast on Instagram and Facebook.

how to start a travel podcast

Select a Podcast Host

Wondering, What is a podcast host? In short, a podcast host is basically the place where your podcast files live. Once you upload your podcast audio files to your host, they share it out to the podcast providers, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and more. 

Personally, I use Anchor because it’s FREE. As this article is about starting a podcast for free, Anchor is the way to go — at least to start out.

Anchor also gives you a nice homepage for your podcastCheck mine out!

If you want to change hosts at any time, I hear it’s a simple process. Since I’ve never done it, I can’t say firsthand, though I’ve never heard of anyone having an issue doing so. If at any time you want to change hosts, Libsyn, BuzzSprout and PodBean, all have great reputations.

Libsyn has no free plan option, though both BuzzSprout and PodBean have free plans. With their free plans, you’re limited in how much you can upload, but what they offer might be enough for your needs. With Anchor, you can upload as many podcasts as you’d like for free.

how to start a travel podcast

Podcast Recording Equipment 

Another reason I love Anchor is that you can use it for everything from creating your podcast cover art, as a podcast host, and for recording and doing some editing to your podcasts — and it’s FREE! Having said that, I only use Anchor for recording my monologue episodes.

When I am recording an interview episode with a guest, I use Zoom. With Zoom, we both jump on a Zoom call and record the meeting so that when the interview is over I have an .mp3 audio file. I’ll then upload that directly into Anchor to create the episode.

🎥 Podcasting Tip: Zoom also make an .mp4 video file of your recording. You can use this Zoom video to make a YouTube video as another piece of content.

Best Podcast Microphones

Though most people think you need a fancy microphone to have a podcast, I used both my iPhone 8 and my MacBook Pro to record before getting I eventually bought a microphone. Now, I use this Tonor microphone and love it as a great entry level mic, but you don’t need a microphone!

If you want a mic, below you’ll find some of the ones most widely used by podcasters, which come in all price ranges.

how to start a travel podcast

Record 10 Episodes Before Launching

Remember podfade, which was mentioned at the beginning of the article — and how most podcasts “podfade away” by their seventh episode? A great way to avoid this is to have about 10 podcasts recorded before you launch.

With these in a bank, you can schedule them to come when you want them to so that you can focus on promoting the podcast as it’s coming out, instead of focusing on making more episodes during a launch. 

With 10 episodes recorded, you can figure out when you want them to come out, and in which frequency. For me, I release an episode each Monday at 4am and I promote the podcast on my social media each Tuesday.

Best Day to Release Your Podcast

Here are some podcast release day and time statistics from this Medium article by MegaphonePods:

  • Wednesday is the most popular publishing day
  • The hours with the most shows published are 2am Wednesday, 2am Tuesday, and 11pm Tuesday
  • Thursday has the most total downloads per average episode

While those stats are based on an average of all podcasts, you can start to break down your own stats after a while. For me, Anchor tracks my stats (as seen in the image below ⤵) so I know my podcasts do just fine on Mondays, and I’m not planning to change to Wednesday though it’s known to the best day.

In fact, many very successful podcasts come out on other days of the week. Personally, I think it’s more important to be consistent, so just pick a day and time and stick with it (at least for a while).

Some of my podcast stats in Anchor, my podcast host. Different podcast hosts track different stats, but as Anchor is free, it doesn’t track as much as the paid services do.

how to start a travel podcast

Final Thoughts: Manage Your Expectations

Like all brand new things, your podcast will take a while to catch on. In fact, you may have episodes that have an embarrassingly low number of listens — but that is OK! Everyone starts somewhere, and the only way to gain listeners is to keep putting out episodes consistently.

When you’re putting out episodes consistently for a while, you’ll keep picking up a few more listeners with each release. After a while, you build trust with your audience and they will emotionally invest in your content because they know you also take your podcast seriously.

What If I Don’t Like My Own Voice?

On a final “managing your podcast expectations” note, keep in mind very few people truly love the sound of their own voice. In fact, you don’t have to like yours in order to make a podcast. 

However, if like Madonna, you do have something to say, you’ll find a way to both not be enamored of your voice, but also make a great podcast with it.

If you cringe when re-listening to an episode after you record one, that is OK, and probably quite normal. However, don’t let that, or anything, stop you from continuing to record more podcasts.

Have more questions about how to start a travel podcast?

If there was anything I didn’t cover in this article, please ask away in the comments down below!

Check out more of my travel blogs

Please join me on my Solo Travel & Mexico Travel adventures

¡Hola Chicas!

I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world!

I started this Blog and Podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel and Mexico travel off your bucket list… Read more

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street

A solo travel podcast

meets Mexico travel podcast

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