To travel with the Kindle, or without the Kindle? That is my question before each trip.
Much of my travel kit is so definitive, it’s hard for me to remember a time when I carried anything different.
For over a decade, I’ve had a silk sleeping bag liner or “sleep sack” (dubbed by our family as “the sleestak” because that’s funnier) with me on every flight. It doubles as a blanket, protects me from chemical-laden hotel bedding, and acts as a neck pillow or cushioned armrest while rolled up.
I could go on and on about other items in my carefully curated collection of travel gear. Most pieces serve multiple purposes. Many of them delight me because they remind me of adventures past. I know what I need, why I need it, and (usually) where to pack it with very little contemplation.
When it comes to my Kindle, however, I’m weighing its inclusion before every trip.
The truth is, I never need to bring the Kindle. I have a smartphone and a tablet, both of which include the Kindle app. Unlike the dark ages of my youth, I never need to carry a stack of paperbacks (it took four for a cross country flight) these days to ensure having entertainment for hours of airline isolation.
I often do bring one codex in spite of the weight of paper and ink. I like to read a physical book. Books, however, don’t often work best for my physical limitations.
The reason I read on a Kindle is mundane. I have arthritis in my hands and wrists. There is no less taxing way to hold a library in my hands than my Kindle Voyage.*
My iPad is too heavy for me to comfortably hold for more than a few minutes in the supine reader’s position. I use my tablet on my lap or at a table, often employing a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard as input device to reduce the pain of typing on it, and a stand for holding it at the ideal angle. It’s portable, but not beddable.
I can read on my smaller, previous model smartphone, but the screen size isn’t very satisfying. I don’t prefer to while away hours engrossed in a novel read that way. Also, at a size that narrow, my fingers have to bend too much to hold it easily. I often drop small objects; not a healthy habit for expensive gadgets.
My backlit Kindle lets me read comfortably whether provided with a suitable bedside lamp or not. It weighs just enough to exist, but rarely tires my hands by its heft. Instead, it is the unchanging position of my fingers (stiffness) or the pressure needed to turn the page (soreness) that wears on me first. The screen size is just about perfect–large enough to hold without dropping and possessing enough real estate to display a reasonable range of words.
I do prefer to bring my Kindle when I travel, because I like to read before I fall asleep at night. An unwavering routine is one way to alleviate insomnia, which I have, and which often worsens away from home. The Kindle gives me the most comfortable, and comforting, reading experience.
But a Kindle is one more object to pack. Its slight weight does add to my total effort expended, and I often feel every ounce beyond the ordinary. It requires a charging cable, but fortunately shares the same one with other gadgets in my kit.
I usually pack my Kindle.
I don’t bring it only when weight is vital or my trip involves so little down time that I doubt I’ll have the energy to read at night. When I (almost inevitably) still end up putting myself to sleep with a book, perhaps wildly exhausted and knowing I should retire sooner rather than later, I find myself wishing I had that extra device with me.
I can travel without my Kindle, but I don’t really want to.
*The newer Kindle Oasis (retail $360) weighs even less at 133g, but I bought the lightest model available at the time. Until and unless Amazon sells the new model without the heavy cover that includes extra batteries, or until the price comes down enough that I don’t think I’m being charged for the cover I don’t want, I won’t be replacing the Voyage.
Kindle Oasis weight with cover: 240g!