First, I want to say that, yes, it’s annoying. You’re there, ready to go through security in a crowded airport and an angry guard screams at you demanding to place your Kindle in a tray. We all understand that. But besides this little negative experience, traveling with a Kindle is one of the most intelligent things you can do as a frequent traveler. I’ve been thinking lots about the subject and I believe that many of my trips have been rewarding not only because of the experience of discovering a new place or a new culture, but because of the books I read in my Kindle.
So, this is a short list of reasons why it just makes sense to travel with a Kindle.
7 Reasons to Travel with A Kindle
You can read everywhere
Yes, traveling is a complicated activity. Sometimes you just don’t have enough time and you’re running from one famous monument to another. But sometimes traveling is also pretty dull. Ten hours on a plane with bad movies can be easily solved with a great novel. Moreover, it doesn’t really matter if you’re in darkness or sitting on the sunny beaches of Barcelona. I’ve read my books in crowded hostel rooms without bothering anyone – particularly cheap hostels that offer limited or no-internet at all. I’ve read my books in clawfoot bathtubs at fancy hotels and even once while camping on an African safari in the middle of Netherlands. Just remember to charge the battery and you’ll be fine.
Quantity and weight
Thinking about reading again all seven Harry Potter books while backpacking in Edinburgh? Imagine the weight of carrying around all seven books, plus your clothes, cameras, phones, foods and snacks. As a good traveler learns fast, weight is one of the biggest packing challenges. Airlines love to weigh your bags…and they love to charge you and force you to meet really strict standards. The Kindle, however, lets me travel with hundreds of books and I don’t have to worry about buying them, because you can also subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited version – or use the free trial for 30 days – while on a trip.
Business or pleasure
Let’s say you’re traveling around the beaches of sunny Costa Rica but you’re also worried about that test or job interview you have two weeks later in Boston. On your Kindle you can keep a collection of short stories to read in a restaurant while lunching alone, but you can also carry around all these programming books, books about climate change, about brain surgery, etc. You only have to be creative and responsible, and understand that traveling doesn’t mean to postpone your plans of becoming a professional. In fact, I bet there are studies that say that you remember more the things you learned while sitting on the grass, than the ones you try to learn while locking yourself in your room, right? #fingerscrossed
Literature as a travel guide
I read an article once in The New York Times about how to use literature as a travel guide, focusing on the masterpiece Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark and the city of Venice. You can take a road trip around Latin America while reading One Hundred Years of Solitude or fall asleep in modern, clean Paris while reading of the dirty, messy Paris of Les Miserables. As with culture, you learn to understand these works better while reading them in the places that inspired them. And it also works for re-reading: Have you ever read Shakespeare while in London before seeing the very same play at the Globe Theatre?
The New York Times did another recent article and an interactive map, tracing Oliver Twist’s London. Read: How to Use a Novel as a Guidebook
Books in your mother tongue – or the language you need
I’ve been living in Germany for a while and one of the things that really drives me crazy is buying books in English. You can spend hours and hours looking at the two shelves with Dan Brown and Stephen King and – even when I like some of their books – still feel that there is nothing there for you. With a Kindle, you can get the books in your mother tongue a few days after they’ve been released. Of course, I don’t want translators to go out of work, but nothing like reading a book in the language it was written. And this also works for those of us who are slowly learning a new language, some children books in German or Haruki Murakami in a version of both English and Japanese boosts your language learning process and helps you practice the language while traveling. Again, there’s got to be research out there that says you learn a language better when you speak it daily…
Sharing is caring!
Some people say it’s arrogant to tell other people what to read, but I love to tell others what to read and why. Indeed, I’ve forced people to read books that I know will change their lives. So imagine you’re traveling with a good friend or a lover and you want them to read a book that you think is great. Maybe you just finished it right there and you want to share some passages or the whole story. Of course, this work with a regular printed book, but well, because this is about the Kindle, let’s say your friend has really bad eyesight and with a Kindle she can adapt the letters to the size she wants. I’m joking, it’s all about sharing, though.
Fight fake news
We see it every day now. Fake news and false information, people posting videos that aren’t real and doctored images. It’s all about propaganda and misinformation. Well, I believe a Kindle can help you to learn how to discern between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sources, and ultimately will help us all to fight fake news. Of course, we all tend to have our Kindle filled with books and essays and novels that fit our ideological and personal tastes – and I can imagine the Kindle of a racist moron being filled with racist books – but the point is that reading will normally help you to have a more balanced view, will teach you how to see the world from the perspective of others and will make you more open to different cultures and ideas. Maybe all this is just a dream. But books can be surprisingly powerful. We’ve just got to read them. In whatever format.
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And finally, don’t forget that with a Kindle account, you can also use the Kindle app for your computer or your phone so you can have all your books in synch and change devices accordingly to your needs. I’ve also used the Kindle to store my travel guides and itineraries, because the battery (let’s be honest) usually lasts longer than the one in my phone.