7 Foolproof Travel Hacks For Readers Who Can't Leave Home Without Their Books

I’ll just be honest: when traveling, I don’t always pack light. On more than one occasion I’ve been known to arrive at my destination only to have a gracious host raise an eyebrow at my luggage and wonder aloud what exactly I’ve brought with me for my two-night stay in her one-bedroom apartment.

“That,” I’ll say, pointing to a small carry-on, "is an extra pair of undergarments and a toothbrush."

“And those,” I’ll say, pointing to the two over-sized wheeled suitcases I paid for with $50 and $100 baggage fees, “are my books.” I’m not always invited back.

I really should know better by now — I’ve carried hardcovers up Machu Picchu and left paperbacks quietly bobbing in a raft while snorkeling in the Galápagos. I’ve schlepped a duffel bag of novels across Kenya, and disembarked standing-room-only Moroccan trains with aching shoulders and a sagging backpack. The list goes on. But honestly, what’s a traveling book-lover to do when the Siren’s song of the road is only slightly out-sung by your shelves full of books, all chanting “read me?”

Well, don’t’ worry: I’ve got some foolproof travel hacks for you, all garnered from a lifetime of traveling with books. Here are seven travel hacks for readers, to help get you through your next Kerouackian adventure — or, you know, just the flight home this holiday season.

1. Take Paperback Instead of Hardcover

Sure, this might seem self-explanatory — but coming from someone who has, in fact, rolled hardcovers into her sleeping bag before, a friendly little reminder that paperbacks are much, much lighter than hardcovers can’t hurt. Pro tip: If you just have to read a book that just hit shelves (aka: is only available in hardcover) opt for the large-print version, which is almost always released in paperback the minute a book hits shelves. The story’s the same no matter the font size, amirite?

2. Invest In The Best Book Gear

Top-notch book stands for extra-long trips, a book light or two for those overnight flights when your seatmate really needs to get some shuteye, magnetic bookmarks that cling to the page no matter how much your book gets tossed around in your backpack. You’ll be glad to have ‘em.

3. Keep an Extra E-Reader Charger Handy

So, I’m not a Nook or Kindle kind of gal (yet, anyway) but if e-reading’s your thing then be sure you have all the extra charging capabilities you’ll need: be sure you have all the international outlet converters you’ll need, and keep a few extra chargers pre-charged — there are no electrical outlets in the Amazon rain forest you know.

4. Do What Cheryl Strayed Did

Maybe not literally — unless you’re actually camping your way across the continental United States, using already-read pages as kindle probably isn’t going to help you all that much. But if worse comes to worse, and you just have to discard as you go, keep it environmentally-friendly by hitting up your nearest recycling bin.

5. Use LittleFreeLibrary.org’s World Map

Little Free Libraries are one of the best things to happen to readers since, well, probably the invention of brick-and-mortar libraries. Whether you want to take a book, leave a book, or exchange the book you just completed for a new title, LittleFreeLibrary.org’s world map will help you find the Little Free Library closest to you — no matter where you are in the world.

6. Bring Just One Really, Really Long Book and Call It a Day

This holiday season I’ve decided to solve all my book-lover’s traveling troubles by reading The Arabian Nights cover-to-cover. At 662 pages of the tiniest print imaginable, I have no doubt that I won’t need new reading material before I return home. (But if I do, I’m taking some of my own advice above.)

7. Sign Up For Bookcrossing.com

If you're the kind of reader who just has a really hard time letting books go, this is a great way to keep tabs on those beloved titles that just had to go mid-trip. Bookcrossing.com invites bookish travelers to register their on-the-road reading materials on their site, label each read with a unique BookCrossing ID, and then leave the book somewhere for future readers to find. The ID label will encourage your discarded read’s new owner to help track the book on BookCrossing’s site before passing the book along as well, and voilà — you can follow your book around the world, from reader to reader. Pretty cool, huh?

Images: Giphy (7)