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The Dog Ear: Why books are best for travel

By Alyssa McDonagh
On January 27, 2014


A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on a train that was moving at a speed I could probably outrun. After hour one of being on the train - at least three more hours remained - I was at a loss. I discovered my earbuds were broken, the Wi-Fi on the train didn't work, and I had eaten most of the food I had packed. All I had left to occupy my restless self were two books. As I pulled the first one out of my backpack, I realized that books are the perfect item anyone could ever pack when traveling. Here's why:
Books don't do anything that will prevent them from being read. There is no software that will crash, no battery that will run out of charge and no buttons that won't work. Anything that prevents you from reading a book isn't a glitch or a flaw in the book's design. They are pure and simple, just paper bound together with ink in-between. Books can't break unless the reader physically does something to the book to damage it.
If you are traveling on a plane, you are limited to what you can use to entertain yourself. You can't use many features of a cell phone and there is no Internet for a laptop. There are no outlets to plug electronics in. You have to make sure the people sitting next to you don't complain about the volume of the music emitting from your headphones. Some of this applies to trains and cars as well. Luckily, books can be used anywhere. They don't come with any restrictions. Just open up the book and begin.
If you are the person driving, you obviously can't read a book. However, you can listen to an audiobook. Easily downloadable to iPhones, iPods and Kindles, audiobooks can help make the miles pass faster. Audiobooks will also help you stay awake and alert while driving since the narrator will act like a passenger that won't stop talking.
Depending on the size of your book, it won't take up much space in your luggage. Their flat shape is ideal for storage. You can lay them on the bottom of your suitcase, slip them into small spaces or store them in large coat pockets if you have no other room. They can be quite thick, but paper doesn't weigh nearly as much a bulky metal laptop. Avoid hardcovers when traveling. Chances are, there is a paperback version of the same book which would be more efficient for packing. This allows you to bring more than one book and not even notice the extra weight. Trade or mass market paperbacks are the easiest format of books to bring.
Traveling from one destination to the next can be tedious, especially when your mode of transportation is delayed or in traffic. Books can help relax you from your journey by distracting you from the frustrations that occasionally ensue. When you're unable to stretch your legs, books help bend your mind by passing the time in entertaining and knowledgeable ways. Who knows? Maybe you'll be so engrossed in the plot of your book that you'll wish the journey was longer so you could finish the story.

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