For some, Thanksgiving means a perfectly trimmed turkey, piles of mashed potatoes and beautiful pumpkin pies. For others it means travel. Lots and lots of travel.
If you're one of the millions of Americans with hours of traffic on the interstate or on a plane in your future, this list is our gift to you. It should keep you entertained through about four hours of holiday travel turmoil. To make it easy for you to relax and just listen, you can click to hear the entire playlist in our mobile app, NPR One. Or, pick the podcast episodes that most interest you from the list below and listen on NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts.
We hope this helps stave off boredom, road rage and utterances of "are we there yet?"
A history of the holiday
Ever wonder what the descendants of the Native American tribe that brokered peace with the pilgrims think of that deal? The Memory Palace from Radiotopia offers a different perspective on the holiday in "On the Shores of Assawompset." 13 minutes.
Getting anxious about family dynamics
Time in transit gives you a chance to think about all the fault lines that will crisscross your holiday table. The "Thanksgiving" episode of Hidden Brain offers advice on how to avoid family fights, and what to do if one breaks out. (Hint: the answer is not throwing stuffing across the table.) These social science-based tips will make for a happier holiday for everyone. 20 minutes
Or, if you're gathering ammunition for political debates
You're still relatively fresh and relaxed. Now is a great time to dig into the meaty reporting Kelly McEvers has done about President Trump's business for Embedded. The entire "Trump Stories" series is fantastic, but "The Golf Course" is a great place to start, telling a story of how Trump one business operated when he was trying to get his way. 44 minutes.
Now for a little fun
With her usual dose of dry, British humor (or humour?), Allusionist host Helen Zaltzman tells us what we can and can't learn about a person from their handwriting. The "In Your Hand" episode of this Radiotopia podcast will give you all the tools you need to understand your crazy relatives, based solely on their handwriting samples. (Just kidding. Sort of.) 13 minutes.
Kids starting to get antsy?
Keep them engaged, entertained and educated with Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz's curiosity-sating Wow in the World. In this episode, the pair wonders why onions make us cry — and hopefully will give your kids a laugh. 20 minutes.
Dig into civics (and its discontents)
The Taxman, the brand new three-part podcast from Colorado Public Radio, is the story of a very dynamic and persuasive anti-tax activist who convinced voters in the state to usher in a radical new tax law. This is a story of alliances, arch-enemies and the unexpected consequences of idealism. 38 minutes.
A deep dive on a tough topic
Settle in for this amazing story of an underage girl who finds herself in a marriage she never really wanted. Who is to blame, and how is this happening in this country? The "Child Marriage in America" episode of WGBH's Frontline Dispatch is well worth your time, with fascinating characters and narrative illuminating a subject rarely explored in this country. 53 minutes.
The children really need a distraction
The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified from WHYY is a family-friendly, pulpy, old-fashioned radio adventure. Follow Eleanor, an enterprising reporter, as she saves the world from the schemes of an evil villain. 15 minutes.
A mental escape
The traffic is starting to get to you, your back is hurting and the kids are giving you a headache. Let the "Om Alone in India" episode of Rough Translation send you on a trip around the globe for World Yoga Day. While there are thousands of yoga mats out in Times Square, some in India aren't thrilled with the cultural appropriation. Serenity now! 32 minutes.
Remember what's wonderful: family
You're almost there. Let's focus on what this holiday is all about. This episode of StoryCorps, "Gifts From Our Parents," will make you want to give your mom or dad a huge bear hug and thank them for everything they've done for you through the years. You may want to keep the tissues nearby for this tearjerker. Just be sure to keep your eyes on the road. 20 minutes.
Maybe none of this appeals to you, or you've already listened to it all? In that case, just turn on the NPR One app, kick back, and listen to a curated, personalized collection of the best news stories and podcasts from public radio and beyond.
Happy listening, and happy Thanksgiving!