I recently took my very first kindle-only trip. Yes, you heard me. I left all of my print books at home. I’ve traveled with my kindle before, but in the past it’s served the purpose of back-up reading material for me. As in, I prefer reading print books, but it’s sometimes hard to bring enough print books to feel like I won’t run out. So I throw in the kindle at the last minute. Just in case.
But this trip was different. I was flying across the Atlantic — just me and my 5-year-old son. (We were going to meet up with my husband who was on a business trip to London.) I knew we’d have some tight connections and that I’d likely be carrying all of the luggage (and possibly my son as well) through crowded airports. So I made the hard decision as I packed our bags: the books would have to stay home. It would be kindle-only with no back-up for this trip.
You may be asking, “What’s the big deal? Doesn’t everybody travel with an e-reader?” Let me explain my reasoning here. First of all, it’s sheer preference — I just prefer reading print books. I find that I don’t remember books as well when I read them on my kindle. When thinking back to a book, I use a lot of visual cues to help me remember — visualizing where a certain passage was on the page, thinking of how the font looked, remembering the style of the page and margins. I also tend to worry about my kindle running out of battery on a long trip. The prospect of a 9-hour flight with no reading material and a dead battery in my kindle is rather horrifying to me.
I found on this trip, though, that my worries had been over-rated. I enjoyed the lightness and compactness of my kindle — I could carry what would have ended up being 50 lbs. of books in the space of my purse. While I missed the comforting feel of a print book in my hand (especially while relaxing before bed), it was worth it to have lighter carry-on bags while still having multiple options in my reading material. And my battery didn’t run out on the trans-Atlantic flight.
The only time I regretted not bringing along a print book was when my travel adapter broke. After assessing the damage and realizing I could no longer plug in any of my devices, I rushed out to purchase a new international adapter — though I somehow forgot that I would need to double check that this new adapter had a US input socket. When I returned to my hotel room, I promptly realized that my lovely new adapter would adapt UK plugs to a variety of types of sockets from around the world, but was completely useless for my US plugs. (Don’t worry — the story ends with a very kind grocery store employee searching the recesses of the back room stock to find some options and helping me try out various adapters until we found one that worked for the silly US plugs.)
All in all, I was quite pleased with my kindle-only trip. It was awfully handy to be able to grab dozens of books at a time, and drop them all in my purse in the form of my kindle. Though I admit — I’m glad to be back home and surrounded by my shelves full of beautifully tangible print books. Travel is wonderful, but I do love settling in to a comfy chair with a print book in my hand — feeling its heft, smelling its inky scent, and hearing the crinkle as I turn each page.
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