Whether you’re adventuring to bucket list lands or testing your luck on Vegas slot machines, packing is usually a last minute panic. Maturely you give yourself a pep talk, “this time I really am only going to pack the essentials.” All the while envisioning your suitcase packed and standing sentinel by your front door. It might just be me, but that whimsical mental promise has been actually fulfilled a grand number of zero times. Although I might not be a leader in the land of luggage organization, I do know how to pack a killer intellectual carry on.
St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I strongly support the theory that travelling should be physical and mental. Whether you want to get a jump start on your upcoming culture change or simply want some cheap entertainment, books should be a necessity. So while I was preparing for my post college trip to Europe, I considered what tips I would give to travelers who might need an extra push when it comes to literature over laptops.
Tip #1- Assess your personal reading speed.
Packing light is vital, unless you hired a Sherpa; no one wants to lug a heavy carry on. By knowing your reading speed you can decide how many books is realistic for you to bring along. Like any true book lover, I love the feeling of physically flipping the feather light pages, but when it comes to trips that thought flies out the window. Which leads me to my next trick…
Tip #2- Electronics.
Using my ever so handy Kindle Fire, I browse the book selections and start the carefully plotted process. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime you are also granted access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, thus giving you access to hundreds of FREE books. If you’re more of an apple person, make use of those iPads; movies aren’t the only things they download at warp speed. By avoiding physically bringing books you no longer have the excuse of not having enough luggage room to read.
Tip #3- Research isn’t only for papers.
From reading reviews to considering The NYT bestseller list, the possibilities are endless at hunting down your perfect book. Head on over to your local library where they have a new title section and advisers whose job it is to find something that fits your interests. Also, don’t ever forget the power of social media and ask your friends for their suggestions. I hate to admit this, but I do Instagram stalk my favorite celebs and screenshot their favorite posted books for future ideas.
Tip #4- It’s okay to stick to what you know.
During this recent trip I have completed, The Dead Room by Robert Ellis, The Murder House by James Patterson, and No Longer Safe by A.J. Waines. I know, I know, not exactly cheerful titles to be reading while I’m alone in foreign countries. But hey, thrillers are the kind of books that fully focus your attention, and in my opinion those are the books worth reading. I’d advise to download at least two books by your favorite authors as a safety net (James Patterson, James Patterson, James Patterson!).
If you’re reading this and thinking addictive Netflix thoughts like, “[Insert favorite show here] has the entire series available; or the 90s are back, what’s up Fuller House!” Stop right there.
Your trip doesn’t need to involve a worldwide adventure to make it memory worthy. Relaxing or exploring, traveling downtime gives you the opportunity you need to no longer use your same stale excuses. Too often have I have heard the excuse of never having time to just curl up and read.
The truth is, I have found you time. From hours on end, airplanes and airports are the one place where you are forced to remain seated in a two foot radius. Of course, while uncomfortably brushing elbows with the stranger who smells like coffee next to you. So go ahead, start the downloading and get ready to not only collect stamps in your passport, but cross a few off that reading list sitting in your desk.
Books are said to take your mind to far off places, but if you feel that reading just isn’t for you here is my favorite quote that might change your mind. From the ever so wise J.K.Rowling, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
It’s time to pick up that Oprah book club approved novel gathering dust on the shelf just waiting to be deciphered. I promise nothing beats the satisfaction you get when you flip to that very last page and read the final dialogue. The part when you finally know what happened to your beloved fictional friends, and realizing sometimes endings can be tied up with a pretty ribbon.
Until next time my fellow travelers…
— Katelyn Bittke, Traveling Editor