Bookish Lifestyle

Travelling with books: Christmas in London

There’s nothing like a little travelling adventure. Escaping from the routine for a while, whether it’s an exotic holiday or just a weekend trip, is a great way to recharge, explore and treat yourself. The last one is particularly important with Christmas on the horizon. Visiting new places and experiencing new cultures is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting things we get to do in life.

I love London with my whole heart. I consider it my home away from home, having lived and studied in the UK. Life happened and I moved away but I still pine for the foggy mornings, Earl Grey and mince pies. We do have a fair amount of fog here in Slovakia and I still make it my business to drink and an ungodly amount of Earl Grey. The atmosphere is not quite the same though.

That’s why an annual trip to London is my Christmas tradition and it’s just that time of the year. I’m visiting one of my best friends and we have all kinds of festive activities in our itinerary. Enjoying the Christmas decorations, shopping for presents, Winter Wonderland, gingerbread lattes and an afternoon tea with a view of the Thames. I even gave myself the best Christmas present by making one of my biggest dreams come true – seeing Wicked on West End.

It might seem that I’ll be super busy. But a four day weekend is too good an opportunity to catch up on reading to miss. Therefore, one of the biggest questions unavoidably arises. Which books to pack?

As I’m going on a trip to recharge and rest, the reading needs to be thematically light. I don’t want to find myself questioning the humanity’s place in the universe in the middle of Christmas markets. On a similar note, I’m travelling with hand luggage only. That means I need something physically light and easy to pack as well.
Here are my tips and tricks on how to manage this.

The obvious answer that presents itself is a Kindle. Or a different electronic reader device of your choice. I have the most old-school one and I’ve been happy with it since I bought it 6 years ago (Jesus, time flies). It is light and you can easily carry it around in your backpack or purse. And you can stuff as many books inside as you want.

If you don’t want to carry around anything at all, you might opt for an audiobook. They are easy to listen to on your smartphone which we carry around everywhere anyway. Perfect for busy trips to big cities – you can listen during a train or tube ride. Also a great option for people with motion sickness who can’t read in moving vehicles.
The choice of wonderful audiobooks of all genres is incredibly rich these days. Everyone will surely find one that suits their taste. Just check out Audible.com. My choice for this trip is A Destiny of Dragons. It is a sequel to my all-time favourite book The Lightning-Struck Heart and I’m extremely excited to get on it.

There are some people, however, who just need to have a physical book with them at all times. I am one of those people. If you too suffer from this affliction, always choose a paperback version. I know hardbacks are nice and shiny but they are a bitch to carry around. You will probably just get annoyed by the extra weight and won’t pick it up the whole time. Paperbacks are easy to ruin so it’s a good idea to bring a book sleeve. I am bringing The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater in my trusty Fairyloot book pouch.

My final tip is especially important if you’re travelling to a place you’ve never been. Buy a good tour guide. The idea of walking around with a little book and a map might seem ridiculous in this age of smart technology. But having all the important information in one place that can’t run out of battery and is not dependable on a stable Wi-Fi connection gives me a sense of safety and control in a new environment. Tour guides are not only great for planning where to go and what to see but also provide you with a complete map of the city, a map of the underground/metro/tube, emergency numbers, important information about the culture and loads of other useful stuff. My favourite for short city trips is the Lonely Planet Make My Day tour guides. They are a compact and fun way of planning your perfect day by choosing what to do in the morning, afternoon and evening. If I’m going for more than a few days I like to learn everything about the places I’ve never been. In these cases, I go for bigger guides like the Marco Polo ones.

I’m counting down the days to my little London getaway and I hope this guide helps you solve your book dilemmas whenever you decide to treat yourself with a trip out of town.

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