E-Readers and Kindle’s are the new books, or are they? There’s no doubt about the fact that real physical books are not going anywhere or at least not going anywhere soon, and I’m happy with that, I love a good book. But when it comes to travel it seems that physical books are no longer the viable and preferred option for many reasons that I’ll discuss in this post.
I’ve had many people ask me recently if I enjoy reading on my E-Reader when travelling because they are hesitant to make the swap from physical book to Kindle and I admit I was very hesitant to get one too! However with another long term travel trip looming which I’m on now, and my desire to read more even whilst I was at home just on the tube in London but being put off because of the weight of the books in my already heavy bag, I decided to get an E-Reader.
Back when I was looking for the best E-Reader for travel, all Kindles were coming up as pretty expensive, although in my research now it seems some have come down in price, and I didn’t want to invest that much in an item I didn’t know I was going to use.
So instead I got the Amazon Fire Tablet. It’s technically a tablet with lots of uses including games, the internet and so much more however I only use it for its Kindle app, therefore to me, it’s my E-Reader for Travel.
I must say I’m so glad I purchased it because there many reasons to travel with an E-Reader. In fact if you are looking for a quick answer to- should I travel with an E-Reader? My answer is YES!
There are some negative aspects too so let’s go though the reasons to travel with an E-Reader and without, plus the best E-Reader for travel to buy!
No Heavy Books – This is of course the biggest reason for why people switch from books to e-readers when travelling and why you would want to travel with an e-reader. Whether you have a Kindle, an Amazon Fire like me, an iPad or another type of e-reader tablet they are all very light and slim and so much easier to carry than a huge book like Shantaram, aka my favourite travel book!
Ease of Buying New Books – Depending on where you travel books can be easily purchased in book shops and market stalls but having an e-reader means you can log onto your Amazon Account, find the book you want to read next, download it and easy peasy you have it!
More Cost Effective – Generally e-books are less expensive than physical books, even if you’re shopping for a book from a market stalls in Asia, and especially compared to buying one in an Airport! So buying one from Amazon vs from a shop makes reading much cheaper. Some books from new authors can be purchased for just 99p which is such great value.
Night light – It didn’t occur to me that this was a great feature of an e-reader when travelling until I wanted to read my book on the bus and it was dark. Most kindle and e-reader tablets are lit and will have a night light so you can read it in the dark. I’ve spent many times reading books in the dark with my phone torch so this was a serious positive to e-Readers and a big reason as to why it’s good travelling with an e-reader!
No-One Knows What You’re Reading – Maybe a bit silly and pointless but there are so many good and interesting books out there now a days on all subjects, maybe your subject is a little bit ‘out there’ or you’re reading up on a private matter and you do not want to show the front cover of the book to everyone, with an e-reader no-one knows what you are reading!
You Can Keep the Books – I wish I had a collection of every book I’ve read but seen as most of the books I’ve read in my 20’s have been when travelling I’ve always had to leave them a long the way or give them away. However although an e-reader does not offer a lovely oak bookshelf for everyone to see as they walk into your home and it does depend on the storage capacity, it does give you the opportunity to keep the books you have read before as recollection and incase you want to read them again, which is handy especially for informational and learning books.
Need to Recharge – Just like anything digital and electric the e-reader needs to be charged regularly even if that’s once a week. The battery on my Amazon Fire is very good because I only use it for the Kindle App (and I don’t use it as much as I should) but there has been a few times when I’ve got it out my bag to read, it’s pretty low on battery and I’m not anywhere where to charge it and the lead is in my big back anyway! My first thought – this would not happen with a physical book!
The Need for Internet – Once your book is downloaded you do not need internet but reading on an e-reader does require some planning as you’ll need internet to be able to download it from Amazon once it’s been purchased. WiFi is readily available when travelling now and so are sim cards for your phone to hot spot from but just be sure not to get a new book to read on a long journey and realise it isn’t downloaded and you have no internet!
Not Reading Outside Your Usual Genre – On past backpacking trips I have simply read whatever books I’ve found on hostel and hotel shelfs. Sometimes I spotted a book I’d been wanting to read or had heard about but most of the time I picked up books I’d never usually read and I liked that. Now I can download any books I want it’s easy for me to stick in one genre a bit. With that being said, one- I keep in mind that I can still pick up physical books to read too if I can carry it for awhile, two- so many people on my social media are always recommending books that broaden my genre, and three- Amazon’s recommended picks are also a good way to find new books that you’ll like but may not have thought about!
Sun Glare – I admit I do still find reading from tablets in the midday sun very glarey and therefore hard and uncomfortable at times! I think this is because I have the Amazon Fire which is a tablet and not just a reading device and if I had a real more expensive Kindle with better features this wouldn’t be the case so be sure to look for an anti glare feature in your e-reader if you’ll be using it in sunny places!
Not Having a Break from a Screen – I think this is the biggest disadvantage of e-readers when travelling and in general for me, because we’re still using technology and looking at a screen! There’s a reason I only use the Kindle App on my Amazon Fire even though it has many uses and that’s because I want my mind to relate to that device only as reading time, not social media and internet time. I do think this helps and that’s also an advantage of Kindle’s as they literally are just a book. The screens can be dimmed and adjusted well on Kindles too so it looks like pages of a book rather than internet pages but at the end of the day, it is a screen and it is technology.
Although I have given a number of negatives, overall I really enjoy having my E-Reader because of the size, weight and ease of purchasing new books and therefore I do recommend you travel with an E-Reader or Kindle and do make that switch before your next trip.
I think the thing to remember is that you can still pick up a book you like on a hotel shelf if you fancy it and leave it once you’ve finished and you can still buy a book in a shop or at the airport if you want to. You do not have to completely switch from physical books to e-books!
Amazon Fire Tablet – Like I said, this is what I have and my reason for purchasing it is that it costs less than a Kindle so I think it’s the best e-reader to buy for travel.
It’s downfall is that it is just a tablet with no cover or case (but you can buy a separate Amazon Fire Case). Plus when you open it the homepage is full of different apps for games and internet etc, not a sleek looking book, but I’ve put my books on the first screen so that’s what I see when I open it and that’s what my mind now knows the device for.
The plus side is that if you are looking for a device you can search on the internet with and read too, this is perfect!
Kindle – This is the best budget Kindle on Amazon right now so it makes it the best kindle to buy for travel in terms of cost and not investing a lot of money in a product you worry you may not use. It’s black, light, thin and small at just 6 inches. It’s touchscreen with no screen glare, it has built in wifi to download your books. The only thing it doesn’t seem to have is a built in light for nighttime reading.
Kindle Paperwhite – This is a very popular Kindle of choice for keen readers. It’s a bit more expensive than the Kindle above but a lot less than the below.
The newest models have new storage added to them so you can save more books. They are now waterproof so you can take them to the pool and they now have audible so you can listen to your books too!
Personally I think this one is a great option between the cheapest Kindle on Amazon but also a good quality Kindle and not the most expensive!
Shop the Kindle Paperwhite here!
Kindle Oasis – Priced a lot higher than the 2 options above but probably worth it for very keen and avid readers when travelling and at home. The Kindle Oasis is extremely light, thin and small at 7 inches, and it boosts the largest and highest resolution display right now of Kindles on the market.
It’s really sleek and stylish, especially the gold covered Kindle, offers audible so you can listen to books and not just read them, a great battery life and perhaps what makes this the best kindle and e-reader for travel is that it’s waterproof!
So you can now read your kindle in the pool on holiday with no worries of getting it wet!
Kobo Aura – If you want an E-Reader that is not an Amazon product then have a look at this Kobo Aura.
This E-Reader is lightweight, easy to use and reduces the blue light exposure during the day and night which is really good for our eyes and will help you sleep better.
The biggest benefit of taking the Kobo Aura travelling with you is that it has HZO protection meaning it is waterproof from the inside out, so no need to worry about it getting wet on the beach or by the pool! This sounds like it’s the best waterproof E-Reader!
iPad Mini – This is a good way to have one device with 2 uses. I really recommend travelling with an additional bigger device than just a phone especially if you are travelling long term (like a iPad or Laptop), it’s much easier to make bookings, watch Netflix on etc so by taking an iPad with you and buying an iPad mini that isn’t too big, you can do all of those things but also have an E-Reader using the Kindle app.
The newest iPad mini is quite expensive but there is the possibility to buy an older refurbished iPad mini for a great price too which would be the perfect iPad for travel!
Your phone with Kindle App – If you do not want to purchase an E-Reader because of the cost or that you’ll have to carry an additional item in your bag, remember you can get the Kindle app on your phone and read like that.
The big downside of this is the size of the screen (unless you have one of those huge phones!) but also the fact that I think it’ll make it hard to ‘switch off’ to just reading mode if you have notifications etc coming through and can easily switch from the kindle app back to Instagram and then before you know it an hour is gone and you haven’t read your book!
If you are keen to read more books when travelling I’d really recommend a second device to ensure you have ‘reading time’ instead of ‘phone and technology time’.
If you are going to purchase a new E-Reader or Kindle before travelling be sure to remember tech insurance as well as travel insurance!
I use World Nomad’s Travel Insurance who I’d really recommend as it has been designed by travellers, for travellers, and they offer great technology insurance options, get a quote for them here whilst you’re thinking about it!
I hope this helps you decide if you should take an E-reader travelling with you, whether it’s on a short holiday or on a long backpacking trip and then helps you decide which is the best Kindle and E-Reader for your travels!
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My Name's Ellie Quinn.
I'm a complete travel addict and have been since I took my first backpacking trip in 2010.
Since then I've visited 50+ Countries on various trips! I created this blog to share my travel tips to help you travel better!
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