As frequent travellers, many of us will know where to look for inspiration for our next holiday – it might be the pages of Instagram influencers, travel brochures or a wanderlust article we see online. However, how do you find out about a new destination before it becomes a tourist trap? Simply look towards your entertainment – podcasts, TV shows and even films are putting new locations on the map, making them all the more enticing with a fascinating narrative you can’t stop listening to or watching…
Audio platform and podcasting app Acast looked into this phenomenon to find the new ‘it’ locations that have appeared on the world map and are likely to become exciting spots for travel lovers.
S-Town: Woodstock, Alabama (US)
Most of us would have listened to, or at least heard of, this podcast and the amazing story that it unearths. From the creators of Serial, S-Town follows the story of John B. McLemore – controversial, obsessed with the environment, tortured and brilliant. The podcast, which achieved a massive 16 million downloads in its first week has definitely put the town of Woodstock, Alabama on the map. The popularity of Woodstock has been such, that its locals have spoken about it to national media, pilgrims have travelled the town in search of John B. McLemore’s infamous house. Interestingly, the maze discussed in so much detail on the podcast is marked as a Museum on Google Maps. If you are a fan, the town is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are travelling through the beautiful landscapes of the Southern States. Who knows, you might be the lucky visitor who discovers John’s secret stash of gold…
Spår: Kalamark (Sweden)
Many Swedes might not know this place, meaning that if you aren’t from Sweden yourself, it is unlikely that you have ever heard of Kalamark before. If you Google the name, you won’t be able to find much information beyond Kalamark’s location on Google Maps – no Wikipedia page, no tourist board. However, what you will find is extensive, worldwide coverage of an unprecedented case – a man convicted for murder, being set free, in part, because of a podcast. The Spår show might be impossible for English listeners to understand (being in Swedish), but the podcast’s investigation resulted in new evidence, a retrial and an innocent man being set free. If you want to see Sweden and its raw nature, Kalamark might be the location for you – winters are magically snowy, incredibly cold and dark (the sun barely rises). The summers are warmer and the days are endless, as the sun barely sets.
Unexplained: Island of Iona (Scotland)
The unknown, mysterious and sometimes dangerous holds a certain dark charm over a lot of us, especially those who listen to podcasts like Unexplained, which looks at the mysteries and events that human logic can’t explain. One of the episodes focuses on the remote Scottish Island of Iona. Known among the fans of the occult, the Island of Iona is believed to be a ‘thin place’, where the boundaries between the human and other worlds almost disappear. This episode of the podcast talks about the mysterious death of Norah Emily Fornario and her search for the spirits rumoured to abide in this remote area of Scotland. The popular podcast put this place on the map for those who may be curious about the unknown, or those who simply love beautiful scenery.
My Dad Wrote A Porno (MDWAP): Epsom, Yorkshire, The Petra… (UK)
This infamous podcast has taken the world by storm across both sides of the Atlantic. The hosts, Jamie, James and Alice spend each week reading a chapter of Belinda Blinked, an erotic novel written by Jamie’s father. While the humour of the podcast and its roaring success cannot be denied, neither can the fact that Belinda Blinked has put some interesting locations on the map, for US and UK listeners alike. While in the UK, we will be familiar with landmarks like the Grosvenor Hotel in London, the Petra, where some of the book’s characters go for a ‘business lunch’ is a novelty for most fans of the show.
To US listeners, locations like Epsom (known for its horse racing in the UK) might be new revelations. From a travelling point of view, MDWAP jumps across different locations, from Amsterdam, Belgium and Texas to Yorkshire, providing plenty of amusing travel inspiration.
Unexplained: Dyatlov Pass, (Russia)
As mentioned above, Unexplained is a podcast that jumps from location to location, and one of the more unusual ones was the episode focusing on the Dyatlov Pass in Russia. This episode of the podcast focuses on the well-documented mystery of hikers in the Ural mountains, who all died under incredibly suspicious circumstances. The destination was first put on the map through extensive coverage of the story in the early sixties and conspiracy theories surrounding the incident in later years. However, the podcast renewed interest in the location, known for harsh weather conditions and beautiful scenery, prompting more hikers to visit the Death Mountain.
Twin Peaks and the Twilight saga: Washington State (US)
Moving away from podcasts and into other mediums, Washington state in the US has seen an increase in tourist numbers and even resulted in guided tours, due to series, books, films and even slightly morbidly, serial killers. The State was first made famous by the serial killer Ted Bundy and continued on a noir trajectory ever since. In the 90’s, the state came to prominent attention through the phenomenon that was David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Despite the fact that the town is fictional, tourists floked to Snoqualmie, a town near Seattle, where the show was filmed. A 2017 revival of the series is guaranteed to once again increase tourism and place Washington on the map for new fans.
Moving from series to films and books, the Twilight saga created an unprecedented interest in the quiet town of Forks, also located in the state of Washington. The town previously relied on timber to support its economy, however, since the books rose to popularity, it has also seen a steady trickle of tourists who want to visit the town where Bella Swan and Edward Cullen first fell in love.
Vikings, Downsizing and Star Wars: Preikestolen / Fossmork (Norway)
A stunning location in Norway, Preikestolen is famous amongst hikers, who trek up the cliff for amazing views over Lysefjord. However, the area has become famous worldwide through cinema, but also due to a very curious mistake by Google. First to film – Matt Damon filmed the Downsizing at the cliff, while the Vikings series show the finale of the second series in the same location. Now, the cliff is being eyed by location scouters from Hollywood, most recently for the next Star Wars film.
What is more curious is how Preikestolen and a nearby village of Lysefjorden burst onto the worldwide map. As mentioned above, the cliffside is notorious among hikers and nature lovers, many of whom used Google Maps to find the hiking trail. However, due to a Google map mishap in May 2017, Google map directed potential tourists to the small village of Fossmork, which is located across the fjord. This resulted in a huge number of confused tourists and greatly amused locals, who kindly informed the disgruntled hikers that the Preikestolen was around 40 minutes drive from Fossmork.