Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.
This week, we reached out to Joy Elizabeth. Joy is a traveler, photographer, artist, creative, reader, and fighter of injustice who loves to capture the beauty of the world around her and raise awareness about the injustices that she sees. Today, she discusses the entertainment she turns to during travel’s quieter moments.
“Atlas: Year One” by Sleeping at Last
I live in Indonesia and have traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia over the past few years, and here’s what I’ve learned: traveling can be loud — from crowded buses to noisy trains, roaring airplanes, busy intersections, and persistent honking. So, when I listen to music, I don’t reach for an intense album. I look for something calm that will soothe my soul.
Sleeping at Last is one of my all-time favorite bands, and “Atlas: Year One” is by far my first choice of their albums. It’s truly the perfect travel album because each planet, ocean, and directional navigation has its own track. Whenever I fly over the Atlantic Ocean, I listen to “Atlantic,” and when I fly over the Pacific or Indian oceans, I play their corresponding tracks as well. This album grabs a hold of my heart and works its way into my memory, much like a beautiful Bali sunset. As I watch the sky’s colors turn from blue to purple to pink and to red, the lyrics from the song “Saturn” echo in my mind: “…that the universe was made just to be seen by my eyes.”
While I love the adventures and escapes that come with living abroad, there are days when I miss my American home. When I feel homesick or just want to reconnect with my roots, I listen to this podcast because it transports me back to the America I love.
“The Memory Palace” is a scripted storytelling podcast created by author and radio personality Nate DiMeo. Each episode is beautifully written and creatively scored to complement the atmosphere of the story being told. The podcast highlights a person or event in American history, often unknown or forgotten, and tells its tale.
The first episode I ever heard was Episode 84: Homesteading, a five-minute story about Syrian immigrants who journeyed to the Midwest in the 1900s. I’d never heard anything like it before. To this day, “The Memory Palace” continues to captivate my attention and draw me into each story’s world. When you put your headphones on and listen to Nate as he tells you about someone you’ve never heard of before, everything else seems to fade away. Whether you’re facing long nights in crowded hostels or layovers in busy airports, this podcast will help you shut out the world and pass the time with something beautiful.
Recommended Episodes: Episode 13: High Above Lake Michigan, Episode 44: Distance, Episode M6: If You Have to Be a Floor, Episode 88: Open Road, and Episode 93: Local Channels.
“Night Film” by Marisha Pessl
Some time ago, I was traveling through China with my husband and a few friends. We were spending a couple of months hitting the highlights, from the Great Wall outside of Beijing to the iconic villages near the Tibetan region in Yunnan province. We even celebrated the Lunar New Year in Nanning. Not long after arriving in the country, I discovered how crowded its cities can feel. I was constantly waiting — on buses, in taxis, in restaurants, at tourist attractions. I needed a good audiobook to draw me into a mesmerizing story and help me escape the waiting.
“Night Film” by Marisha Pessl did exactly that. The book focuses on the missing daughter of a famed horror film director and the investigative journalist, obsessed with the family, who goes on a quest to find her. Combine Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, and M. Night Shyamalan for an idea of how this story unfolds. It’s creepy and captivating and was the complete immersive audiobook experience I needed as we navigated China. Every time I re-read this book, I picture the streets of China, hear the fireworks of the Lunar New Year, and smell dumplings cooking.