A New Vacation Phobia

I’d never really thought about it before, but as I was packing for my recent trip to France, it occurred to me that I have a phobia that’s very real, and mostly manifests during vacation: the fear of running out of reading material. Never mind the plane trip – whenever I feel nervous about that, I remind myself that plane accidents make the news because they are so rare, and that I do something statistically more dangerous every day when I get into my car and drive to work.

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

No, my fear is running out of books to read. The longer the plane ride, the worse it is. Traveling internationally, to a country whose primary language is not English is another concern – we might be able to find a bookstore, full of stuff I can’t read (or in the case of French, can’t read well enough to just enjoy the story).

Of course, you’d think it would be easily handled by simply taking lots of books. I used to do just that. I didn’t bother packing my clothes until a day before departure – if not that morning. No worries there. But my books, I started collecting several days before, if not a week. I’d pick books from a variety of genres, and a variety of subgenres of romance, because hey! – who knew what I’d be in the mood for when I finished the current book?

If the vacation was a long one (a week), the books would get their own bag, or at least would fill my carryon bag, along with the change of clothes I always packed in case my luggage got lost. So when ebooks became popular, it was a godsend.

Problem solved, right? Finish a book, just hit Amazon, Smashwords, or the local library’s website and download another.

Except that you can’t go online from an airplane. OK, yes, we actually can, but bucking those rules is not something I want to try.

So I still spend a good bit of time before vacation loading up my smartphone with ebooks. Again, I need a good selection of genres so I can read what I’m in the mood for – and so I have backup in case I get hold of a book I don’t like. Then it’s necessary to open each book to ensure that it’s downloaded to the device so that once I’m up in the air, I don’t need to worry that I’ll click on a book that looks really good, only to find that it hasn’t been stored on my device.

But ebooks aren’t a universal solution either. You can’t even turn on the smartphones and ereaders until the plane is a good ways up in the air. Depending on how long the wait to take off is, that could be the better part of an hour. Okay, yes, there’s the Skymall mag, but that’s only good for 20 minutes or so for me. I need books. So I still wind up packing a print book or two. Oh, and with my smartphone, battery is another concern. An 8- or 9-hour flight is more than my phone’s battery lasts, especially if I take some time off reading to play games. So I also have to be sure to pack an extra, extended-life battery, and double-check that it’s fully charged before I leave.

So how did all of this work out for my trip to France? Well, I read two ebooks and one print book the whole time (I am not a speed-reader, and I did spend some time playing games). My extended-life battery had just gotten low when we landed in Paris, so it served me well. And the books themselves?

I still have over a dozen on my phone, unread. 🙂

What about you? How many books  do you pack, if going on a week-long vacation? Do you worry about running out of reading material?

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13 Responses to \

  1. I too overpack the luggage with books. My Kindle has more books on it than I’ll probably ever read, but I do worry that my battery will die before I can re-charge it. And then I worry that maybe I forgot to pack the charger. I prefer paper books to the Kindle, but on vacation, the Kindle is the only way to go.

    I don’t think it’s quite phobia stage for me, but I have on many occasions bought books at airports during layovers because I finished one book on the first leg of my journey and failed to pack a second. My husband always loves that stop at the airport. He looks for the best burger joint, me – the best stocked newsstand.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. I also prefer the paper books to the kindle but will have the kindle at my side on vacations. I’m not a speed reader either. I also find my eyes get tired and it’s rare that I am traveling without the kids so free time to read isn’t something I see a lot of. Mom. Mom. Mom. LOL. The hubby, on the other hand, usually gets through something while we fly. 😐

  3. Ah, Jennette, this is my absolute favorite long word: abibliophobia.

    Any car travel includes a bag for just books–so yes, the plane offers its own wasteland. I do take my Kindle, but the whole battery thing, and the different plugs in Europe–shudder! I always scope out bookstores first thing in airports–just to know where my next fix might come from!

  4. Patricia – LOL, yup, I worry about the charger for my phone, too! I have an extra one, and always pack it the night before. 🙂

    Debra, even if we like paper better, it’s so much easier to carry tons of books on an ereader! My luggage is definitely lighter since I went e.

    Elizabeth, I love it! I never knew there was a word for it, but why wouldn’t there be?

  5. I actually bought one of Jennette’s books from Amazon as I was getting on a plane–I’d finished the first and wanted the second to read on the plane.

    I used to bring 5-6 books for a week long cruise, because I knew I’d spend time on deck reading. Being able to just bring my phone really lightens my luggage!

    We’re heading for a 2 week out of country trip soon, and I’ll be loading up my phone with dozens of favorites, some classics, and I’ll hit the library site and checkout the 10 books I’m allowed to have out at once. I won’t read anywhere near that many–but I’d rather have a big collection. The bits don’t weigh much.

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed my books, Beth! Sounds like you will be well-prepared for your trip. 😀

  7. When we were packing for our honeymoon, my husband asked what in the world I was doing when he saw Michener’s Hawaii (a VERY long book) going into the suitcase. Well, we were going to be gone for two months, for goodness sakes! Two weeks later we had BOTH finished the book!

    Yes, I also plan my reading well ahead of time and like you, I pack a variety of things, including magazines, books, and some art supplies and sketch pad, and some wool and spindles.

  8. I haven’t done any international travel since a trip to Toronto.

    If I’m by myself and gone for more than three days, I want one on the phone or the Kindle (I have an old school Kindle), one in my carry-on, and a minimum of one audiobook either on my iPod or my phone. (Yes, I have separate devices and will replace the iPod classic with an iPod touch. You can have my dedicated music player when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.)

    In a former life, my companion liked to listen to audiobooks while we drove. Only she would listen to audio while she drove and music while I drove. Which annoyed me to no end. I wanted to read while she was driving.

    My wife doesn’t listen to audiobooks, so on long trips, I can either plugin or poke my nose in a book/ereader when she’s driving.

    Planes are for writing.

  9. Loved this post! As someone who used to bring no fewer than 10 physical books on long trips, the e-readers do help. But is such a PAIN that you can’t have the devices on during takeoff and landing. Makes me anxious, as those are the scariest parts of the flight. 🙂

  10. No e-reader for me, so I lug around lots of books. Probably why I prefer to drive than fly (easier to carry in the car!). Only once was I short-handed book-wise. That was our first cruise. I bought a book on the ship, but their selection was slim, so I know better now. For vacations I usually pack lots of paperbacks (especially the ones I get free at conventions). They are small and I don’t necessarily have to lug them home when I’m finished (if I dont’ want).

  11. Michele, LOL at the very long book that was read by both of you in two weeks! Sounds like a good time. 🙂

    Jim, I can’t write on a plane – too many distractions. Just as I’d get into something, it would be time for food, or the person next to me would have to get up… so I stick with games and reading. Same thing when I’m the passenger in the car!

    Stacy, that’s exactly why I fear running out of books! There may be a bookstore in the airport, but all they have are the biggest best-sellers – not usually what I want to read. Gotta love all those freebie paperbacks from the cons, huh?

  12. LOL Julie – yup, that used to be me with the ten books! And ditto on the takeoff and landing!

  13. A year ago, I would have thought you were fretting unnecessarily, Jennette, but now I have a Kindle and also worry that it’s missing whatever kind of book I may be in the mood to read once aloft and separated from the Amazon mothership. As it happens, I leafed through a recent SkyMall catalog–and now the images of weird products are burned on my brain. Do people really decorate trees with eyes, mouths, and their alma mater’s colors? Why oh why didn’t I buy the latest Oprah magazine?