I recently came back from a two week vacation and noted in my journal writings the importance of selection criteria for books to bring on vacation.
Here are several questions for choosing books to bring on vacation:
1) Is the vacation an action packed tour of many cities/countries you have never seen or is it a relaxing extended stay in one particular place that you may have even visited before? For the very active travel regiment I suggest just bringing one book. Chances are that you will be so busy focusing on what to see in each stop that the book may actually take away from the vacation experience. For a blitz like trip that I took to western Europe 18 months ago, I only took one book and never finished it. On the other hand, if you are spending time in one location mainly for relaxation purposes and especially if you have visited this place before, I suggest up to 5 books to bring. On my recent relaxing vacation I was able to read through all but one book. I was able to read the chapters that most interested me in the book I did not finish, so this was still a victory.
2) Will I actually enjoy reading the books I bring? Am I bringing these books with me out of my own free will? I would not bring anything that you feel forced to read. Students should not take any school books with them (unless it is an absolute need). Taking work-related material with you, will very likely mentally take you out of the vacation.
3) If I ran out of things to read, would I enjoy reading these books again for a second or possibly third time? If I did not answer this question in the affirmative the book stayed home.
4) If any or all of the books were damaged or lost, could I easily get another copy? Don’t take any rare or signed books. Also don’t take someone else’s book with you unless they are fine with the book potentially never returning. The ease of access to another copy is helpful if you find yourself in the middle of a good read and need to snag a quick copy to get back into the read. The physical item is not as important as the content. In the movie “Wild”, the main character was encouraged to burn the pages of a book she read as she went on a lengthy backpacking journey. This served the dual purpose of having kindling for night-time fires and for lessening the weight load being hauled around each day.
5) Can all the books be fit into a backpack or other carry-on bag (with room for all other essential carry-on items) in such a way that the backpack or carryon bag can fit beneath a seat on the plane? Say no to large hardbacks and yes to slim paperbacks. Use size as a factor to whittle down what books you plan to bring. I was able to bring three slim paperbacks and two medium sized hardbacks with enough room to spare for all other carry-on essentials.
6) What about electronic books? If you want to use electronic books go for it. However, keep in mind some disadvantages. You might be faced with even more reading options than you would be if you just focused on print books. You might have to deal with paralysis by analysis. Also, if your device gets lost or damaged you’re out of luck. You’ll need to make sure you bring your charging cord and that you have frequent access to electronic outlets. If the device can’t charge you’re stuck. Finally, you’ll need to be in a position to pick up Wifi. If your vacation spot can guarantee you all these then you’re set. If not then look to print.
7) Anything else I should bring with the books? I would suggest a medium sized notebook and two pens to jot down any good ideas you get from the books or just to journal.
In the next several posts, I’ll discuss the 5 books I brought with me on vacation and why I brought them. I’ll then go into some vacation dos and don’ts.