Friday 7 October 2011

Travel Aids: The Kindle

It has occurred to me over the past few weeks that Hints to Lady Travellers really ought to include more, you know, hints to lady travellers.  (Or any travellers.)  So I'm taking Official Hints Day out of mothballs and today I want to talk about the single best travel aid to enter my life: the Kindle.

(Image via

It's not as though Amazon needs my endorsement.  As you may be aware, the Kindle is Amazon's best-selling product - and has also been the subject of many the-book-as-we-know-it-is-dead laments.  I'll admit, too, that a few years ago I couldn't imagine ever wanting to part with paper books in favour of a machine.  After all, you can't read a Kindle in the bath.

But, but, but - this was before I packed all of my books into boxes and stored them away.  Before I started travelling around the world and learning exactly what I could and couldn't fit within a 20kg weight limit.  Before I realised that packing enough books to see me through a Europe to Australia flight (including stopovers) would mean that I couldn't actually lift my hand luggage unaided.  Before I got to Australia and discovered the average price of a paperback is $25 (around €20 or £15) due to weird parallel import laws that I don't quite understand.

Enter the Kindle.  It is light and portable.  If you get the version with 3G you can use it almost anywhere in the world - great if you're travelling to non-English speaking countries and need something to read.   It is also (thanks to the 3G and Whispernet function) genius for unexpected delays because you can buy books from the Amazon store and have them delivered instantly to your Kindle.  If I have a gripe it's that the books available for Kindle are heavily skewed towards the bestseller list and royalty-free classics.  But in a way that suits my purposes since I use it mostly to buy/read books that I don't necessarily want to hang on to, but that are good to read on the go.

I can't imagine not having a place in my life for real, paper books - but I think the books that I'll keep and buy will be special books, books that I want to read again, books that have particular meaning for me.  Plus - owning all the real, paper books in the land won't do me any good if they're in one continent and I'm in another.

What it comes down to is that I'm someone who gets very nervous and stressed at the prospect of being on a place (or train, or bus) with nothing to read.  With the Kindle, I can finally take enough with me to survive even the longest journey.

One final hint - I would recommend getting a cover for your Kindle.  I've been putting this off (haven't found one I really liked) and in consequence my Kindle is a wee bit scratched.  However, more and more designers are getting in on the action so there are lots of options.  I like this one.

Hints to Lady Travellers is definitely not being sponsored for this post - but lives in hope that one day someone will recognise her worthiness and give her a lifetime's supply of free books.


  1. Excellent hint. And the kindle is not just for travellers - I _love_the Kindle function on my iphone since it means I can read while feeding Tadhg at night without turning any lights on!

  2. Maybe (in your limitless spare time) you can start the sister blog, hints to new mothers. Ex

  3. I tried to comment twice already but the curves in the mountains obviously got in the way. For two weeks in India I brought several kg of books, none of which I want to abandon but which I probably won't read again. I wanted to reread the India books i first read in the 60s/70s, The Raj Quartet, Heat and Dust etc. If they were available on Kindle, I'd be a convert.

  4. Yep, Heat and Dust and Raj Quartet all available; as e-books or audio books.

    Maybe you should ask Santa for one too?