It's National Plan for Vacation Day!

Woman kayaks in Glacier National Park. (Photo by Mark Bosky)

Woman kayaks in Glacier National Park. (Photo by Mark Bosky)

If you could be anywhere, with anyone, doing anything -- what would it be?

OK, so maybe your wildest fantasies aren't entirely realistic. But in honor of National Plan For Vacation Day, why not set aside some time to dream a little?

Americans get an average of just 12 days off each year, and less than half of us actually use all of our vacation time. The result? Those employees who forfeit their vacation time are more stressed, more likely to burn out, and -- get this -- less likely to receive a pay raise or bonus. That's according to a 2017 survey conducted by GfK.

So do yourself a favor. Get out a piece of paper (a real piece of paper, not a word doc) and make a bucket list. (Bonus points if you use a colorful pen). Don't make it an impossible bucket list, but do include items you secretly yearn to do, even if they seem a little out of reach. 

Then, block out some time on your calendar this year to do at least one of the things on your list.

Finally, follow through. Make that chunk of time inviolable. Important things will inevitably come up. But that week you set aside? That's your time. It's your chance to explore, relax, recharge, and do whatever the hell you want to do.

Want some inspiration? Here are a few places we're putting on our bucket lists:

Willow's Dream Trips:

Glacier National Park, MOntana

Glacier National Park, MOntana

1) Alaska. I've always wanted to go to Alaska -- to kayak along the coastline, backpack through the mountains, feast on marvelous quantities of fresh fish in tiny seaside towns. Maybe one day -- when Out There is bringing in enough money that I can quit my day job -- I'll pack up my recording gear and drive north until I find a place that can be my base camp for a while. I'll explore the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, revel in a world made up of islands, and work from coffee shops or the backseat of my car.

2) Glacier National Park. Everyone says it's spectacular. Ideally, I'd love to walk there from Wyoming, following the northern part of the Continental Divide Trail. Challenges to overcome in pursuing this plan include blocking out two or three months of time (it'd be a long hike...), and coming to terms with the idea of backpacking solo in grizzly bear country.

3) On a more immediate time frame, I have three days in February blocked out to go to Leadville, Colorado. Leadville is the highest town in the U.S. (10,200 feet above sea level), and it's one of my all-time favorite places. My plan? Spend three days, by myself, cross-country skiing, writing, and sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace (because, of course there WILL be a fireplace).

Alex's Hopefully-Not-So-Bucket List:

zion national park, Utah

zion national park, Utah

1) Zion National Park. The red cliffs, canyons and rivers of Zion National Park look SO distinctive and unique to me. I've never seen anything like it in person and I have decided that 2018 is the year I am going to do it. Since I will have to schlep across to Utah from New York, I plan on taking at least five days with my husband to hike, camp, and be completely awestruck by this landscape that has been forming for hundreds of millions (hundreds of millions!) of years.

2) Fall in Maine and Vermont. We don't really get Fall in Australia. For one thing, we call it Autumn! And sure, there are a few trees whose leaves turn through yellow and red, and fall to the ground in time for Winter. But many of our tree varieties are non-deciduous, meaning a lot of green sticks around. So I would love to take a road trip through Maine and Vermont in Fall to see masses of trees turning all the glorious shades of a warm fireplace. And yes, this trip will of course involve many actual fireplaces, where you will find me curled up with a good book and a glass of mulled wine.

3) Iceland and the Northern Lights. OK, maybe this one is more of a bucket list item. The landscapes of Iceland I have seen in photos look other-worldly, saturated with colors that look almost too real, as though a filter has been applied (but it hasn't, #nofilter). Trekking through that breathtaking country to see the Northern Lights would be a lifetime dream for me. I may not get there in 2018, but I will get there one day!

Erika's Dream Trips:

northern lights

northern lights

1) Hawaii. Ever since I did my 2nd grade state project on Hawaii, I have wanted to go. The scenery, the music, the local culture, the  pineapples... My dream day would be waking up early to go on a hike in the mountains and then taking a nap on one of their perfect beaches in the afternoon! 

2) Finnish Lapland. My grandmother (Mummi in Finnish) grew up in Finland before moving to the U.S. to marry my grandfather.  She recently passed away and I think I would feel close to her by being in her home country again. We went to Helsinki together about 10 years ago, but I would love to go further north into Lapland to try out some cross country skiing and see the Northern Lights!



Need even more inspiration? These episodes will get you writing that bucket list

With My Toes in the Sand: This episode is about a woman named Susan Conrad, who kayaks the Inside Passage (all the way from Washington to Alaska) by herself. And it's about learning to stop running from your problems -- learning to be content with your life as it is, right here and right now.

When Nature Knows Best: It feels like received wisdom that tough, solo adventures are bound to spark personal change. Sometimes that change happens in ways you haven't planned. This episode is about what happens when you are forced to abandon your plans -- and about the quest to rekindle happiness. (Oh, and it's also about bikes. And Idaho.)

Better Than Fun:  Have you ever craved a vacation (and actually had time for one), but had no one to go with? That happened to Willow one Spring, and this is the story of what transpired -- how she turned a social failure into an emotional victory.

A note about the photos used in this post: where no attribution has been given, the photos have been licensed free for commercial use without attribution.

10 Podcast Episodes We Think You'll Love

Holiday Playlist - blog (1).png

Well, we are well and truly into the holiday period. Perhaps you have a long drive ahead of you and need a break from that old Christmas CD you’ve heard a million times. Perhaps you need to plug in some headphones and take a break from the family for a precious half an hour of YOU time. Or perhaps you’re headed off on an adventure outdoors, and need to load up your playlist with new material (lucky you!). Whatever your situation, we figured that a lot of you might be in need of some good listening material around this time of year.

Here at Out There, we’ve done a lot of podcast listening during the year. And so we wanted to suggest some stories to accompany your holiday period. Here are some episodes we listened to in 2017 that really spoke to us in some way. We hope you load them up on your playlist and enjoy!


Note to Self, “Ghosting, Simmering, and Icing with Esther Perel”

Recommended by: Willow

I listened to this episode just as my last relationship was ending. It was a relationship that had shown so much promise. This guy was kind, generous, inquisitive, and willing to talk about feelings. He was curious about my work, eager to embrace my hobbies, and interested in everything from ultra-running to improv comedy.  Not only that, but for the first time, I’d felt the “slow burn” that’s supposed to be the hallmark of a solid partnership.

And yet, things weren’t going well. And I couldn’t put my finger on why.

Then I listened to this episode from Note to Self.

The episode helped me make sense out of my situation; it showed me that things were unraveling not because of incompatibility, but because my boyfriend and I had fundamentally different needs -- different ideas about the role a relationship should play in our lives.

It’s a fascinating listen, regardless of your current relationship status.


Invisibilia, “Bubble-hopping”

Recommended by: Alex

During 2017, as stories of divides across America abounded, I found myself wondering more and more about the lives of people who have totally different experiences of the world to me. And so I was fascinated by the exploration on NPR’s Invisibilia of different ways people have set out to escape the so-called “bubbles” of their own communities and online spaces. Particularly interesting was one guy’s mission to get out of his Silicon Valley bubble, and counteract his natural biases, by embracing randomness. He builds an algorithm that chooses public Facebook events at random, and the Invisibilia team join him in attending events hosted by total strangers.


Double X, “1800 Patriarchy Street Edition”

Recommended by: Erika

When all of the sexual harassment claims started coming out recently, instead of wallowing in sadness about the state of women in 2017, I tried to go positive by seeking out some stronger feminist voices in my life. I came across Double X, and it has helped me both process current events and widen my lens a little more. I appreciate the contributors’ intelligent and insightful, yet good-humored approach, particularly during this episode in which they answer listeners’ “is it sexist?” questions.


BBC, “As Many Leaves”

Recommended by: Willow

This isn’t a podcast, but it’s probably the most moving audio piece I have ever heard. Sally Herships’ first-person account of the dissolution of her marriage is honest, raw, vulnerable, and beautifully told. You really should listen; I can't recommend it enough.


Ear Hustle, “Unwritten”

Recommended by: Erika

Every episode of Ear Hustle covers a different topic related to life in prison. I really enjoyed the first season of this new show, so it was hard to choose just one to share. The chemistry between the host who is incarcerated, Earlonne Woods, and the host on the “outside,” Nigel Poor, is easy-going in a satisfying way. I found this episode thought-provoking in its exploration of the role of race in prison, and how you are expected to stick with your own race for your own safety. Despite some of the uncomfortable realities shared in this episode, there were still some heartening points. I loved when they talked about the group of what one of the hosts calls “L7s” who challenge the status quo by playing Dungeons & Dragons.


Love Me, “At a Loss for Words”

Recommended by: Willow

The beginning of this story has the most beautiful montage of untranslatable words about love. For example…

“Tiam (Farsi) - the twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone”

“Forelsket (Norwegian) - the indescribable euphoria as you begin to fall in love”

“Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese) - the act of tenderly running your fingers through the hair of somebody you love”

The episode as a whole is a delightful story about love, communication, and language.


On Being, “Rebecca Solnit: Falling Together”

Recommended by: Alex

On Being is my go-to podcast whenever I need some healing and some hope. Within moments of pressing play, I can’t help but be soothed by Krista Tippett’s thoughtful and empathic questioning style, and I am always inspired to think more deeply about the world.

The recent interview with Rebecca Solnit particularly struck a chord for me. I found the discussion on this episode about how we can approach the concept of hope in a different way -- not in the sense of adopting an optimistic attitude, but in the sense of learning to live with uncertainty, and feeling as though we can still choose to embrace compassion and engagement and generosity in the face of this uncertainty -- completely apt for the year that was 2017.

On a side note, if you like the sound of this episode, I would completely recommend listening to the episode Maya Kroth produced for Out There in 2017: The Same Humanity.


Kerning Cultures, “Not Just My Hijab”

Recommended by: Willow

Four women, and their relationship with their headscarves. This is a two-part series, and I particularly liked Part II. It’s a thought-provoking, nuanced look at an issue that we often see as black and white.


Answer Me This!, “Episode 353: bike on fire”

Recommended by: Erika

Some podcasts are for learning new things, some are for hearing a good story, and some are for pure, silly entertainment. Answer Me This! is a great podcast for that day when you just need a break from life and want to listen to a couple of cleverly goofy British friends answering totally random listener questions. Most of the time, you could simply Google the answer, but that is not the point of this podcast - it’s all about their hilarious commentary, anecdotes, and quirky jingles. This one covers questions ranging from whether resorts water down their liquor to how to ask your mom not to use the term “glory hole.”

The Broad Experience, “Episode 104: Starting Over”

Recommended by: Willow

This is a story about a Mormon woman who was raised to believe that having a career is selfish, and the only worthy goal in life is to raise a family. Eventually, that belief is turned on its head, and she finds herself trying to launch a career (and figure out basic life skills, like how to set up utilities in your name) when she’s in her 30s. She’s newly divorced, has $40 in her bank account, is now the breadwinner for her family -- and she’s faced with navigating hurdles that most of us learned much earlier in life.

Join our team!

Do you like giving advice? Enjoy pondering other people’s problems and helping them come up with creative solutions? Do you often find solace in nature?

We have the perfect gig for you!

Out There, is looking for an advice columnist to join our team. This is a new position, so there will be lots of room for you to shape it. But in general, here’s our vision:

  • Listeners will send us voice memos or emails laying out a problem/question in their life. You’ll pick the submissions that most interest you and come up with solutions to the problem(s) -- solutions that involve the outdoors in some way. Why the outdoors? Because Out There is a show that explores big questions through intimate stories in the outdoors. Nature has a remarkable capacity for healing us, and we want to harness that power to help listeners navigate life’s challenges. (Note: We’re not necessarily looking for aggressively outdoorsy suggestions. Many of our listeners live in cities and are by no means dirtbags. Your suggested fixes could be as simple as proposing something in a city park.)
  • You and Willow would then record a conversation talking through your suggestions (perhaps we’d loop in the asker of the question, as well).
  • Initially, we’d air advice episodes once a month - though we could start doing them more frequently down the road.
  • You can be located anywhere! Our team is scattered across the country, and we're used to collaborating remotely.
  • You do not need to have a background in audio (though of course that’s a plus). It’s more important that you’re thoughtful, articulate, and a good storyteller.
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Out There is an independent show on a miniscule budget (we aren’t paying ourselves anything yet), so we can’t pay as much as we would like ($100/episode at the moment). But this should only take up a few hours of your time each month. And we can promise to be fun, enthusiastic colleagues and to give you room to put your mark on an exciting enterprise. As we grow, we hope to be able to do more frequent advice episodes - and pay you more.

Interested? Send an email to Willow ( Tell us about yourself and explain why you want this gig.

Can’t wait to hear from you!


Wanna be on Out There?

Send us voice memos 1.png

Hey guys!

We're planning a bonus episode, and we want YOUR voice on it. All you have to do is:

1) Record a voice memo, telling us about a story that particularly resonated with you (eg. a story that changed the way you approach some aspect of your life). We'd also love to hear what you'd like us to do differently down the road. 

2) Email your voice memo to*

If you do it soon, your comments might get on the show.

*You can also call us at 800-599-2598 and leave a message, if that's easier.

Can't wait to hear all your beautiful voices!

"A Master Class in Dramatic Tension"

We recently gave a shout out on Facebook to The Flyover Podcast Newsletter, written by Kelly Moffitt, who is also an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio. Podcasts produced in the major coastal cities, like New York and L.A., get the lion's share of public attention, but Kelly's newsletter is designed to help podcast lovers discover more shows produced between the coasts.   

And now we're excited to let you know that there is one extra reason for you to head over and check out the newsletter -- the most recent edition featured an interview with Willow about Out There.

If you've ever wondered why we make Out There, or what goes in to making each episode, the interview is well worth a read. And, yes, each episode really does involve that many rounds of edits and a LOT of agonizing over finding the right music. 

You can read Willow's full interview here. And you can sign up for the newsletter here.

We won a major national award!

Willow Belden Out There PRNDI Award

Wonderful news: Out There won a PRNDI award this weekend. 

PRNDI, or Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, is an association of public radio reporters, producers, and editors from across the country. Their annual awards celebrate the best audio stories of the year -- kind of like the Oscars for public radio -- and we're thrilled to announce that Out There took first place in the independent podcast category. We make Out There because we love telling inspiring stories about the outdoors, and it's an honor to be recognized this way by respected colleagues in the industry. 

The story that received the award is called High on Failure. It's about one woman's attempt at an 888-km trail running race in the mountains of Vermont, and it explores why failure can actually be a good thing. If you haven't already heard it...well, we're not the only ones who think it's worth a listen.

This is the second year that Out There has received a PRNDI award; last year we won second place in the independent podcast category for the story Failure in Success. And this spring, we received two regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.




We have the best audience!

You guys are fantastic. Seriously.

We recently started fundraising on Patreon, a crowd-funding platform for creative endeavors. Our initial goal was to raise $200/month to cover the show's basic overhead costs, and we met that goal faster than we ever expected -- all thanks to you!

We can't tell you how grateful we are.

Next goal: more episodes! 

We would love to produce Out There more frequently for you. Right now, we’re doing it twice a month, but of course some months are longer than others, so occasionally, there’s a three-week gap between episodes. We would love to do the show every two weeks, and if we raise an additional $300 dollars a month, we can do just that.

Pledging is easy; just click here, enter the amount you'd like to contribute, and enjoy the warm, fuzzy glow you'll get from supporting a show you love. You'll also be eligible for great rewards, including discounts on Out There gear, free t-shirts, and more.

Again, a huge thank-you to everyone who has already contributed. And if you haven't had a chance to pledge yet, we hope you'll consider supporting us soon!

Out There wins regional awards

Willow Belden (left) and Jordan Wirfs-Brock (right) attended the Top of the ROckies awards ceremony at the Denver Press Club Friday, where the awards were announced.

Willow Belden (left) and Jordan Wirfs-Brock (right) attended the Top of the ROckies awards ceremony at the Denver Press Club Friday, where the awards were announced.

We're delighted to announce that Out There has won two awards from the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

"From the Horns of Beetles," an episode about animal weapons and warfare, won second place for science reporting. And the show took third place for general broadcast excellence.

The award for broadcast excellence was determined on the basis of three stories: "High on Failure" by Jordan Wirfs-Brock, "When a Thru-Hike Falls Through" by Erin Jones, and "A New Identity" by Willow Belden.

The awards were announced Friday at the Denver Press Club. They are part of the Top of the Rockies contest, which honors journalists from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

These awards aren't the show's first; last year, Out There won second place for best independently produced podcast from PRNDI, a national association of public radio journalists.

We're thrilled to be receiving recognition from respected colleagues around the country, and are so proud of all the freelance producers we've been working with, who make the show what it is.

Meet our newest team member!

Erika Burns

We're thrilled to have Erika Burns on board as our marketing assistant. Erika lives in Washington DC and works in the energy efficiency industry.

When she's not in the office, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, refereeing women's lacrosse, and competing in yard games. She is timidly learning to sail and is making an effort to go on more weekend hiking and backpacking trips. 




Oh, and did we mention she recently went on a sailing trip from St. Lucia to Grenada? So much for "timidly" learning to sail...


Listener helps Out There support press freedom

A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.
— Albert Camus

Last month, we asked you - our listeners - to take an audience survey. We wanted to get to know you better, in order to create more content you love, and reach new listeners. We were overwhelmed by the positive response to the survey (thank you so much for participating!) and touched by your comments.

As many of you know, we also entered survey participants into a drawing for Out There swag and other prizes.

Listener Rob Landicho was selected to receive the top prize, a $50 REI gift card. But when we emailed him to tell him the good news, he wrote back and suggested that we forego sending him the gift card and instead donate the $50 to a charity or organization of our choice.

So we gave the money to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit that promotes press freedom. CPJ works to ensure that journalists are able "to report the news without fear of reprisal," both in the U.S. and internationally -- whether that's supporting journalists who are working under authoritarian regimes, or those facing harassment or legal challenges here at home.

At Out There, we believe that thorough, fact-based journalism is essential to a functioning democracy and a healthy society, and we are honored to support reporters who are facing roadblocks that no journalist should ever have to face.

Thank you, Rob, for helping us do our part!

Trail Blazers: 5 Lady Publications We Love

Let’s face it: journalism about the outdoors is heavily male dominated. Men make up the majority of editors, writers, guests -- and yes, even audiences. But there’s a growing contingent of women who are making their mark in the field. In honor of International Women’s Day -- and as an all-female team ourselves -- we wanted to highlight some of the best outdoor-related lady publications.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite podcasts, magazines, and digital media organizations that are headed by -- and regularly feature -- women.


Misadventures is a magazine by, for, and about women. Launched in 2013, it was born out of frustration that most outdoor magazines were edited and written by men. Those magazines overwhelmingly featured men in stories and photos, and catered to male audiences. Misadventures founders Zoe Balaconis, Marybeth Campeau, and Jessica Malordy wanted to offer quality journalism about nature and adventure to the other half of the population. Their magazine has an all-female staff and - as they put it - “champions women who embrace creativity, take risks, and go out and beyond.”


Alpinist is a magazine focused on alpinism and adventure climbing, with stories ranging from extraordinary ascents, to personal accounts of lifestyles in some of the world’s most extreme places. The magazine’s editor in chief is an accomplished female journalist named Katie Ives, who is working to bring more women into the spotlight.

Human Race

Human Race is a podcast from Runner’s World. Each episode tells a story about runners and the world of running -- from the world’s toughest races, to the surprising moments of kindness you find behind the scenes. The show is hosted by writer and journalist Rachel Swaby, author of the book “Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World.”

Terra Incognita

Terra Incognita is an online ecofeminist magazine “dedicated to stirring the pot in the adventure world.” Run by a woman named Erin Monahan, the publication is anything but neutral in its political and social leanings: its mission involves challenging consumerism, fighting patriarchy, and overturning societal norms that exclude and marginalize. Stories impugn the dismissiveness with which women in outdoor leadership roles are often treated, offer impassioned pleas to make the outdoors more inclusive of minorities, and advocate unapologetically for thoughtful environmental stewardship.

She Explores

She Explores is a website and podcast featuring outdoor stories, photographs and artwork by women. With topics ranging from solo hikes, to life in the remotest corners of Alaska, the stories offer inspiration and resources for women to get out and connect with nature (and with themselves). Headed by Gale Straub, this is another all-female team.


Move over, boys: 10 great stories featuring women

Jordan wifs-Brock at Infinitus, an 888-km trail running race in vermont. (Photo by victoria petryshyn)

Jordan wifs-Brock at Infinitus, an 888-km trail running race in vermont. (Photo by victoria petryshyn)

Looking for good listening material for International Women's Day? Here are 10 of our favorite Out There stories by and about women:


Out There listed as one of top 8 outdoor podcasts

Photo by Abbie Barronian

Photo by Abbie Barronian

We're thrilled to be among Adventure Journal's top picks for podcasts about the outdoors

Abbie Barronian, who compiled the list of favorites, describes Out There's stories as being told "with the eye of a journalist and the empathy, kindness, and open-mindedness of a traditional thru-hiker." 

The show is in good company: other podcasts Barronian mentions include "Outside/In," "She Explores," and the time-honored "Dirtbag Diaries."

Adventure Journal is an online magazine founded by the West Coast editor of National Geographic Adventure. It is dedicated to highlighting outdoor adventure of all varieties.

Help Out There grow! (And win things).

We have big plans for Out There. We want to bring you more content you'll love, grow our listener base, and create a vibrant community around the show. In order to achieve those goals, we need your help.

We just need three minutes of your time (literally, THREE minutes) to take our audience survey. If you complete the survey, you will:

1) Have our undying gratitude
2) Feel like a million dollars for having supported an independent podcast that exists to bring you stories you love, and
3) Be entered into a drawing to win a $50 REI gift card, an Out There hoodie, and more.

So, do us a favor and take three minutes that you would otherwise have spent scrolling through Facebook, to help us out.

Here's the link.

For Valentine's Day: Five episodes about love, relationships and identity

Pedaling And Paddling: What happens when the person you love doesn't love what you do?

Love Is Not A Finish Line: Taking a relationship to the next level, one pedal stroke at a time

Exiled From Ranch Country: Leaving behind the place you love, in order to be the person you are

The Desert Half: Should you live in the place you love most?

Bad Feminist? I climb because my husband climbs