Let's not dwell on the fact that there are legitimate reasons for having reading material handy while travelling. Just think about passing time on airports and some such (I suggest you try people watching instead). Equally I'm not going to frown in case anyone's idea of surviving a long flight is by sticking their nose into a book (I propose doing crosswords and pestering everyone sitting in your vicinity to help you out if you can't guess right). Of course the journey to and from your travel destination isn't what this is about. It's about what lies between.
So you booked a trip to, say, the Peruvian Andes or maybe Rome. What will you pack? Passport, money, camera, sunscreen, change of clothes, the usual suspects. Books? Now here's where things get interesting. Being an avid reader you will probably wonder why anyone would refrain from stuffing reading material into your luggage. So let's for a moment forget about the more obvious downsides of hauling books along on your next vacation to far away lands. You certainly know the ones. Heavy suitcase. Books (or worse, Kindle) damaged by salt-water. The necessity of barf bags, because the bus that takes you up meandering roads from the airport to your final destination makes your stomach a little queasy. These are just minor considerations though. Ultimately there really is only one reason why you should consider leaving your books on their shelves when you travel. You read that right. One reason only.
If you get on one of those painfully long flights half way around the globe to explore ancient ruins, climb picturesque mountains or visit exotic places on distant shores, you might want to use every minute of your vacation doing that instead of hiding behind a book (which you could have done a lot cheaper if you had stayed at home in the first place). I recommend to enjoy the view and you might want to take Augustine of Hippo's quote to heart - The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page - and let your journey be the only book you need while travelling! If you still find the strength to read a couple pages before going to sleep after a long day of being out and about, you're doing something wrong. Exhilarating exhaustion is what you should be aiming for, not bedtime stories.
Afterthought. Maybe I'm simply too adventurous of a traveler to appreciate some leisure time in between exploring ancient ruins and discovering quaint little shops. Apparently I have no talent for sitting still when I'm travelling. Then again, that's not quite true. I rather enjoy sitting on a tree stump, breathing in the fragrant air while enjoying the magnificent vista over a National Forest as much as basking in the late afternoon light in front of a seaside cafe while nibbling on some local delicacies.
And when I finally return back home I can only hope my books didn't destroy my favorite pair of shoes or, pardon my French, shat on my pillow.
Are you taking books with you when travelling? If so, have you ever considered leaving them at home? Or maybe you're more like me and don't read while travelling either? Please share.