June 16, 2014

Why you shouldn't take books with you on vacation!

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Some folks like to do it, others not so much. Reading while on vacation. Most people are shocked when they find out that I'm of the latter persuasion, never taking a book (not to mention books, plural) with me when I travel abroad. Seriously. Never. Ever.

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.

8 comments:

  1. I can't go anywhere without a book. I absolutely panic if I don't have a book in my bag leaving home, even for shorter outings. I love to read if I am waiting wherever. For travelling I agree books are heavy luggage and therefor I enjoy to bring my iPad mini and load it with books. I agree that one can not only read while travelling. A big part of it is to enjoy the new environment.

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    1. I always felt that way too. No step without a book and that included traveling abroad. Apparently I am too distracted by things going on around me to actually need a book to bridge time waiting, but I do see how this is a good argument for taking reading material with you.

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  2. i generally have at least one so i can read if i feel like it before sleeping ( i discovered lord of the ring like that because my brother brought then in vacation and he was reading so i couldn't sleep and started on one^^;;) now the last time i went i didn't get the opportunity to read as i dropped asleep from too much exhaustion^^

    if i take one i take one that i can live without or that i have in double etc in case something happen to it^^;;

    i do think enjoying the vacation fully is important ^^;; but admit too that the one time i didn't take any i managed to buy some on place when the need was too strong^^

    i can't read on teh road or worst imagine in a airport as when i do enjoy a book i'm so immersed i would miss my flight or something

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    1. When I realized that I never got around to actually read more than maybe ten pages (in total!), because of being knackered after a day of being out and about, I decided to just leave them at home. I figured if all else fails I can still buy a book in a local bookshop, though this never happened.

      I can't read on the road either as I get "sea sick" when trying to read on the bus/train/car, so even if I wanted to I'd only get green in the face after a few minutes and that really takes the fun out of reading (and traveling).

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  3. I don't think I have ever not taken a book on vacation. I try to bring at least a couple of books with me because one never knows when you are going to have some down time and taking a break from taking in the sites.

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    1. Come to think of it, I never seem to have much downtime on vacations. Last time I spent a "slow" day on vacation, I went down a lazy river with a friend - this definitely qualified for "taking a break", but bringing a book would have been a bad idea (especially for the book).

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  4. I always have something to read with me on vacation mostly due to the waiting. I tend to bring my e-reader or the one book I'm currently reading that will last me at least 4 hours. However, I also listen to music and people watch - love doing that at airports.

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    1. Somehow I never manage to find much time for doing anything other than running from one gate to the next at the airport, but when I do I'm definitely one for people watching. I can always read books, but there's a kind of entertainment to watching random people at airports you don't get to see every day.

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