7 Ways To Make Your Next Vacation Even Better
The Everywhereist Tells Us Why Books Are A Travel Essential
I'm a travel writer, which means I'm on the road a lot (and most of that time, I'm lost, but that's another story). Since I'm constantly in the process of emptying and refilling my suitcase, people often ask me for packing tips. I usually tell them the same three things:
'¢ Pack extra underwear (because you never know)
'¢ Scarves are great. They keep you warm and can double as a hammock for stray cats. And everyone wants to befriend a stray cat (that's the whole point of travel, right?)
'¢ Don't forget to bring a really good book. It's that last piece of advice that usually garners the most responses (and not, weirdly, the whole cat hammock thing). I usually hear a bevy of reasons why people don't want to bring books on vacation ranging from the sort-of believable to the absurd ('œI like to watch TV on vacation,' 'œI only read on my tablet,' 'œI'm allergic to paper') but take it from me: if you want to have a great trip, you need to bring an actual, real, the-pages-smell-like-sandalwood-and-vanilla book.
1. Books Are Durable.
I've destroyed two eReaders in my lifetime. Each met an unfortunate end in the supposed safety of my carry-on. But I have never, ever managed to destroy a book. And I am positively brutal to my reading materials. I toss them in my bag, I bring them to the beach, I stain the pages with sunscreen and ice cream and occasionally, if the story is really good, with tears. And every time, the book survives, the cover proudly gleaming in the sunshine with an unspoken, 'œIs that all you got?'
2. You Can Match Your Book To Your Destination
In recent years, I've started coordinating my books with my travels. I've read Jane Austen while traveling through England, and devoured European spy novels while jaunting around Italy. And this summer, I've been home in Seattle, reading BOTM's June selection,Â Shrill, by local author Lindy West. There's something magical about making a book come alive by wandering through many of the same places mentioned in its pages, and seeing, with your very own eyes, what inspired an author. Don't worry if it's not a perfect match (it might be impossible to get to the Italian Riviera, but how about sitting in spot of sunshine in the park while Nutella straight from the jar? Instant Italian vacation!). Plus, if you ever want to relive a trip, you just need to crack open the pages one more time.
3. If Your Book Gets Lost or Stolen, You'll Be Bummed, But Not Devastated
One of the most basic rules of travel is simple: leave your valuables at home. And guess what? Your tablet is a valuable. In my many years on the road, I've been scammed, ripped-off, and robbed. I've learned not to pack anything that I'm scared to lose. And while I love my books (and have been known to literally hug a particularly compelling tome more than once), they are, for the most part, replaceable. I'm not scared to leave them in a hotel room or on my airline seat '“ I know they'll be there when I return.
4. You Can Read and Still Enjoy Your Environment
Don't get me wrong: I love zoning out in front of the TV as much as the next person. I've spent many grey afternoons binge-watching shows about zombie detectives and teenage detectives and if someone makes a show about zombie teenage detectives I am so watching it. But TV can be a sort of all-encompassing onslaught on the senses that drowns out everything else '“ which isn't exactly what you want if you're on vacation. Books allow you to connect with your surroundings in a way that screentime doesn't '“ you can still hear the crashing of waves and the chirping of birds and the sounds of the world around you. You can take a minute to breathe in fresh air '“ stress-free, sweet-smelling, vacation air. And then you crack into the next chapter because you can't wait to know what happens next.
5. You Can Share it With Your Fellow Travelers
Odds are, you're traveling with someone because you want to connect with them '“ and books are a great way to do that. Whenever my husband and I leave for a trip (we're both on the road a lot for work '“ fortunately, we often get to travel together), we each usually try to a grab a new book '“ one that neither of us has read. And when we've finished, we trade. And because we're super, duper nerdy (in the best possible way) we then talk about what we've read '“ our own little book club, usually held at 36,000 feet. And if we don't have room in our suitcase for all those books we've accumulated while on the road? We just pass them on to another traveler '“ the reactions are usually incredibly, effusively grateful (because, seriously, who doesn't like a free book?)
6. Even a Suspenseful Book Is More Relaxing Than a Suspenseful TV Show
Okay, here's the thing: I love thrillers, and mysteries, and suspenseful stories. But I cannot handle watching them on TV, because between the creepy music and the intense camera angles, I freak out in a way that doesn't really say 'œrelaxation.' But a peaceful vacation can be a perfect counterpoint to a suspenseful book. I just finished The Woman In Cabin 10 '“ one of BOTM's August selections. It's a fast-paced and blood-pressure-spiking thriller (the entire book takes place on a boat '“ a claustrophobia-inducing setting and a main character who is a travel writer with anxiety. Let's just say I can relate.) I know for a fact I could not have handled watching something that intense on a screen '“ but reading it was a totally different experience. I read this page-turner while sitting back and relaxing in the summer sun.
7. You Will Literally Sleep Better If You Read a Book
The National Sleep Foundation notes that even small electronic devices (like your tablet) promote wakefulness (and yes, eReaders do it, too). Our brains interpret the light as a sign that it's daytime '“ so we're more likely to have trouble sleeping. But scientists have found that reading an actual physical book before going to bed doesn't have the same negative effect '“ books can actually help you sleep better. And isn't the whole point of a vacation to catch up on your rest?
Geraldine DeRuiter is the voice behind the award-winningÂ EverywhereistÂ travel blog. When she's not at home in Seattle, she's traveling the world with her husband, Rand, and trying to convince him that cake is a viable dinner option. Her travel memoir,Â All Over The Place, will be published by Public Affairs Books in Summer 2017.