In a world where digital devices dominate our lives and provide instant access to a plethora of entertainment options, there’s still something magical about the weight of a book in your hands and the immersive experience of turning its pages.  As avid travelers know, books make for exceptional companions during journeys, offering an escape, a connection to new worlds, and a respite from the hustle and bustle of travel. Whether you’re embarking on a cross-country road trip, soaring through the skies on an international flight, or simply seeking solace in a local cafe, the presence of a well-chosen book can elevate your travel experience in ways that technology often falls short.
In this article, we delve into the art of traveling with books – a practice that harks back to the romanticism of exploration while remaining relevant in our fast-paced digital age. From practical tips to sentimental reasons, we’ll explore why many travelers still opt to pack their favorite novels, biographies, or guides alongside their passports and tickets. So, whether you’re a travel pro or a newbie eager to explore, you’ll find useful advice for making your journeys even more awesome by bringing your trusty books. Get ready to mix the fun of reading with the excitement of exploring as we share the absolute best tips for traveling with your beloved books.
How to Pick Books for Traveling?
Are you someone who enjoys having books as companions on your journeys? Have you ever thought about needing an extra suitcase just for your beloved books? You’re certainly not alone, my fellow book enthusiasts. I relish the idea of traveling with books, and through this article, I aim to provide you with valuable tips on how to bring your treasured physical books along while ensuring your packing remains efficient and lightweight.
1. Opt for just a single book or two, enough to accompany you through the initial long stretch of your journey and the opening days. This way, you can leave room to stumble upon fresh reads during your travels.
2. Acquire pre-owned books to bring along for your journey from nearby libraries, bookstores, or thrift shops. We have a particular fondness for obtaining used books that are situated in the destinations we plan to explore or authored by writers hailing from the countries we’ll be visiting. Take, for instance, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast – its charm is magnified twofold when read in the streets of Paris.
3. Minimize the space your books occupy and lighten your load by choosing paperbacks instead of hardcovers. Paperback books are generally lighter and more compact, making them an ideal choice for travelers looking to maximize luggage space and minimize weight.
4. Opt for city or regional guidebooks instead of comprehensive country guides if your travel itinerary is centered around a single city or specific area. For instance, if your visit to England is solely focused on exploring London, there’s no necessity for a guidebook covering the entire country. By selecting guides tailored to your immediate destination, you’ll have more relevant and focused information at your fingertips.
5. Choose books that you’re open to donating or passing on once you’ve finished reading them. This approach spares you from the burden of carrying them back home, contributing to a lighter load. Moreover, you can swap these books with fellow travelers, extending the life of the stories while creating connections on your journey.
Tips for Trading, Donating, and Borrowing Books While Traveling
- Certain cities boast exceptional English libraries, such as the American Library in Paris, offering an excellent resource to access not only American periodicals but also the travel guides and maps you might have opted not to pack to conserve space.
- Explore the local landscape by visiting neighborhood bookstores, open-air book vendors, and thrift shops. Take the opportunity to acquire fresh reading material while on your travels, immersing yourself in the literary offerings of the region you’re exploring. Additionally, consider donating the books you’ve already enjoyed to these establishments. Not only does this practice promote sustainable reading habits and support local businesses, but it also allows you to impact the communities you visit positively.
- Stay alert for notices and announcements about book exchanges and swaps in various community hubs such as local hostels, coffee shops, bookstores, churches, and libraries. These gatherings often provide opportunities for tourists to trade their read books for new ones, fostering a sense of connection with fellow book enthusiasts and the local community.
- Engage in the direct book swapping with fellow travelers—a fantastic approach to not only diversify your reading list but also connect with your companions on the road. This method holds particular appeal in countries where sourcing English books might pose a challenge.
- Numerous tourist attractions, like castles, churches, and museums, offer captivating English books for sale in their gift shops. Consider purchasing a book that delves into the history or significance of the site you’re exploring. This choice serves a dual purpose: not only does the book provide you with insightful information about the location, but it also doubles as a meaningful souvenir or potential gift.
How To Keep Your Books Safe While Traveling
For those who have a passion for both traveling and reading, the challenge of preserving books during your journeys might be all too familiar. Books, particularly paperbacks, can be quite fragile, making stuffing them into backpacks and suitcases a risky endeavor.   Nonetheless, there are strategies you can employ to transport your books without subjecting them to excessive wear and tear. Here are a few tips to ensure the safety of your books:
1. Keep Your Books Away From Water: Shield your books from potential weather-related harm or the chance of liquids seeping from containers within your luggage. While on the go, books can be vulnerable to water damage or, even worse, unintended exposure to substances like shampoo. Stow them within a waterproof bag or pouch to ensure their safety, creating an effective barrier against moisture and potential mishaps.
2. Take Off Book Jackets from Hardcover Books: The outer covers of hardcover books, known as book jackets, are particularly vulnerable to damage while traveling. These jackets are often made of paper and are prone to tearing or other forms of harm. To prevent this, removing them before embarking on your trip is advisable.
3. Opt for a Secure Luggage Niche for Book Storage: Choose a bag with multiple compartments or pockets. This allows you to isolate your books from potentially damaging elements or objects. Certain carry-on bags feature a distinct zippered section designated for laptops. If you’re not bringing a laptop along, you can utilize this space for your books. In instances where a laptop is part of your travel gear, consider bringing a slim book that can comfortably share the compartment with your laptop.
4. Consider Fabric or Canvas Book Covers: These covers serve as protective shields against stains, scratches, and creased corners. In addition to safeguarding your books, these covers offer another advantage: diversity in design. They come in a range of styles, allowing you to personalize the appearance of your book.
5. Choose Sturdy Books for Packing: When preparing for your travels, prioritize books that are resilient and robust. This isn’t the occasion to carry your most delicate or fragile volumes. Opt instead for your sturdiest books that can withstand the rigors of the journey. While flimsy paperbacks might not be the most suitable choice, a well-constructed hardcover book with durable pages is a much better option.
While on their journeys, individuals often choose to bring along books to keep them company during waiting periods or simply to enjoy reading while traveling. Nevertheless, adhering to a few book selection and care tips is vital when venturing away from home. Moreover, as avid book enthusiasts aspire to devour a multitude of titles, it becomes imperative to curate a collection that complements the travel experience. Hence, depending on one’s objectives, an assortment of suitable books can be chosen to accompany them on their voyage.