Reading is definitely the best activity for a traveler. It requires minimal gear (a book), it doesn’t require Wifi, and you can do it just about anywhere, anytime. Whereas your laptop might be too cumbersome to drag out on the bus, and lack of internet makes your phone basically useless, reading is never off-limits while on the road (unless it’s super dark—oh wait, spoiler alert, I have a solution for that).
I’ve always been quite the bibliophile. More than just being a fan of reading, I used to be a huge fan of books themselves. I loved looking at books, smelling them, holding them, and flipping through their pages. I collected books as if they were art to display on my shelves.
Five years ago, I was wholeheartedly against swapping real books for an e-reader. I thought it was blasphemy! Why would I want a lifeless e-reader instead of holding a real book?
Then I started traveling.
When I started to move around, I wanted to bring all the books I’ve collected over the years along with me. But if you could see how many books I used to have, you too would realize that just wasn’t an option. So I’d bring a couple of books with me at a time, leaving the rest behind to collect dust on the shelves. All the books I bought with the intention of reading “someday” became books that I’d realistically never touch.
So all those books essentially went to waste, and I was forced to buy books as I traveled. Except those books didn’t get read either, because it became a hassle to carry them around. I’d find a book, buy it, read part of it, and then abandon it in the hostel book exchange because I needed to lighten my pack.
Suddenly, “real books” weren’t as desirable to me anymore. They were dead-weight, and a waste of money to be honest. I tried to stick to used books and free books, but that meant I never got to read the books I really wanted to read. I just had to take whatever I could find, and it was never that interesting to me.
I missed reading. I missed reading more than I missed books. And the solution to that problem seemed pretty clear: I needed a Kindle for travel.
After years of resisting, I finally got a Kindle this past Christmas. Honestly, I thought it would just be more convenient for traveling. But even when not traveling, having a Kindle actually makes it a lot easier (and in my opinion, more fun) to read. In just one month, I read 11 books. That’s compared to the total of 8 books I read in the previous year.
I am in love with my Kindle for traveling and for use in everyday life. But here’s what you really came here for: these are the top reasons travelers should get a Kindle (and ditch the old paperbacks).
Kindle For Travel: Why Every Traveler Should Get a Kindle
1. It’s Lightweight
In my opinion, the number 1 reason travelers should get a Kindle (or another e-reader) is to get rid of extra weight when packing. Carrying around books can easily add on a few extra pounds depending on how many books you want to bring. It might not seem like much, but every ounce counts when packing, especially if you’re on a budget or trying to pack carry-on only. Even when I’m just out for the day with my daypack, carrying around a book to read weighs me down. The Kindle Paperwhite only weighs about 7 ounces. That’s super lightweight! You can throw it in your bag and you won’t even notice it’s there.
2. You Can Bring as Many Books as You Want
Continuing on that line of thinking, when traveling with a Kindle, you can bring as many books as you want on your next trip. You don’t have to worry about the weight or making room for multiple books in your suitcase. With your e-reader, you have access to every book imaginable all in one lightweight device. This is especially awesome for bookworms like myself who can easily get through 2-4 books in one week of travel, or people who like to switch between books depending on their mood. You can even bring your travel guides, which are often the heaviest books of all.
Don’t force yourself to choose just one book to travel with when you can bring them all!
When I was traveling around New Zealand, I tried bringing 3 books with me for an entire year of travel. I very quickly whittled it down to one book at a time, but that meant I often didn’t have a book with me to read because I had already finished the one I had. That problem has been solved!
3. It Makes Reading Easy & Comfortable
This is the thing that surprised me the most about getting a Kindle. I knew I’d be more likely to read regularly with an e-reader, but I didn’t anticipate how much easier reading would become. Because it’s so small, holding up my Kindle for long periods of time is actually comfortable. With the high resolution, the perfect-sized font, a built-in reading light, and the no-glare screen, the Kindle also makes reading much easier on the eyes.
With regular books, I would often stop reading because I was uncomfortable or started feeling fatigued (voracious readers know what I’m talking about). Now I read super fast and I can read for hours at a time without getting tired or uncomfortable.
4. It’s Environmentally-Friendly
I LOVE books. I don’t want to see them disappearing because there really is something special about holding an actual book in hand or passing it on from person to person. However, books are made out of paper. And we can’t deny the fact that using paper means using more trees.
People tend to buy brand new books, read them once, and then keep them on their bookshelves for the rest of eternity. That’s a total waste of paper. Yes, donating books, passing them on to friends, buying from secondhand bookstores, or using the library are all great ways to reuse books. But it doesn’t take away the fact that it is ultimately using up more paper, and most books seem to end up as single-use items.
Using an e-reader allows you to access the same books, the same stories, the same information, without ever using paper. It lessens the demand for paper books to be produced, ultimately saving resources.
5. You Can Read ANY Book, ANY Time
As a traveler, specifically as a backpacker, you’re probably used to finding books in the hostel library or at a local used bookstore. That means you’re left reading whatever random books you find. In hostel book exchanges, that’s often titles you have no interest in. And while I love scouring secondhand book shops as much as anyone, sometimes you just want to pick up the exact book you’ve been dying to read, instead of relying on what others have left behind.
When you’re traveling with a Kindle, as long as you have brief access to Wifi to download it, you can buy or borrow ANY book you could possibly want. Now that I can easily access just about any book in the world, I’ve started working my way through a big list of books I’ve been wanting to read for years.
6. You Can Read in the Dark
With regular books, you can read pretty much anywhere, at anytime. That’s one of the great things about reading as a traveler. However, that anywhere, anytime stops when you lose access to light.
At night, if you don’t have a reading light, if your phone is dead, if everyone around you is sleeping so you don’t want to turn on any lights, or maybe you’re staying somewhere without electricity…all of these things make it impossible to read. The Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, and Kindle Oasis all have a built-in light that adjusts to any environment, and any level of light. And while it gives your eyes enough light to read the screen, it doesn’t put off a ton of light that might bother others around you at night.
Basically, if you like to travel and you like to read, you really need to get a Kindle (or another e-reader). It will make your life so much simpler; you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get one! I know that’s exactly how I feel now that I can easily bring a book with me everywhere I go.
The Best Kindle for Travelers
There are a lot of e-readers and Kindles to choose from, but which one is really the best Kindle for travelers?
I have the Kindle Paperwhite, and I am really happy with it. It has a high-resolution, glare-free screen, it has Wi-fi connectivity, plus it’s lightweight & compact. It’s also one of the cheaper Kindles, but it still has all of the preferred features. You can also choose between a black or white Kindle.
There’s the basic Kindle, which is cheaper than the Paperwhite; but it doesn’t have a built-in light, which is one of my favorite features. The Kindle Oasis looks pretty awesome (waterproof, more storage, ergonomic design), but it is quite expensive.
Which Kindle is best for travel really depends on what you’re looking for. Ultimately, it looks like the Kindle Oasis would be the best of the best (waterproof means you can read in the pool without worry!), but taking price into consideration, I really would recommend the Kindle Paperwhite above the other options.
Note: The Kindle & Kindle Paperwhite are currently on sale through February 14.
What to Read
So now that you’re getting a Kindle for travel, you’re probably ready to fill up your reading list with tons of books. Check out my Travel Reading tag for some suggestions. Or you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I usually include a “Book of the Week” to talk about what I’ve been reading lately. And of course, there are more travel reading lists to come here on the blog!
Another great option if you have a Kindle: sign up for Kindle Unlimited to get (you guessed it) unlimited access to over 1 million titles so you can read as much as you want for one low price. Much more affordable than buying individual books. You can learn more about it and sign up for a month-long free trial here.
Here are a few book recommendations:
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