One of the biggest weeks for travel in the United States is coming up as Thanksgiving approaches, leaving millions of us facing hours of travel on the road, rails and in the air. 

The time to prepare is now by loading up your phone or whatever device you use to listen to podcasts.

Here's a list of episodes and series that will keep you entertained through those many hours while also providing some level of insight and information that might make for civil holiday conversation or even hone some new skills before you head back to work in December.

1. The Science of Happiness

I recommend getting in a gratitude mindset leading up to the big Thursday. The Science of Happiness from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley is a great podcast for a little gratefulness pre-partying. Subscribe and just scroll through the past episodes and you'll find plenty of episodes that are relevant for both work and the rest of life, tackling topics from dealing with feelings of failure to getting your priorities straight.

2. EntreLeadership podcast

If you're the type of person that dreads the long weekend because it's a drag on your productivity, you're definitely missing the point. Then again, nothing wrong with filling those travel hours with something valuable.

The latest episode of the Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership podcast hosted by Alex Judd features guest Stephen Mansfield, a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and speaking coach, talking about the lessons we can learn from the very entrepreneurial pilgrims about tenacity and having faith in a vision.

3. NPR's TED Radio Hour

To stay at least psuedo-productive on the road, why not get a jump on your New Year's resolutions for 2020 a month early? This episode of NPR's TED Radio Hour from 2017 is all about pursuing a better you.

Pay particular attention to the fourth segment by former Google engineer Matt Cutts about his habit of taking on a new challenge every 30 days in the name of self-improvement. Take something on for December and you'll already be a month ahead in the resolution game.

4. By the Book

To go a little deeper, try the By the Book podcast--a reality show twist on the self-help movement in which hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer try to live by the principles out-lined in famous screeds and then report back. Listen to how they did trying to follow David Allen's famed Getting Things Done and feel like you're getting something done at the same time.

5. Startup

If you've got a long trip ahead with enough time to binge a whole season, right now is a particularly interesting time to go back and re-listen to the first season of Gimlet Media's Startup podcast, which documents the founding of Gimlet itself. It's interesting to listen now that we know how the story ends five years later, with Gimlet being purchased by Spotify for over $200 million. 

6. The Splendid Table

Of course, Thanksgiving is really all about food, which none of us can be even slightly productive without. To keep focused on the task at hand this time of year, the public radio cooking show The Splendid Table, hosted by Francis Lam, really shines with new twists on traditional recipes, an annual Thanksgiving call-in show, and even more inspiration from guest chefs.

7. The Sporkful

Two years ago, food podcast The Sporkful decided that the holiday is so steeped in tradition that there was nothing more to say about it. Others begged to differ with host Dan Pashman, and now I think that listening to 2017's "The Last Sporkful Thanksgiving Special Ever" should be a new holiday tradition, because talking about what Thanksgiving means and why it brings us all together is better than many of the other things we could argue about around the table. 

I hope that's enough to get you where you're going. Travel safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Published on: Nov 22, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.