What is a Kindle?
A Kindle is a hand-held e-reader, developed by and affiliated with Amazon. It’s like an iPod, but for books. With an Amazon Kindle, you can buy, download, and read books, magazines, and newspapers. While you need Wifi to purchase and download your chosen item, you don’t need any internet access in order to read your book.
A Kindle is PERFECT for traveling readers because it saves you a ton of space and weight in your luggage, and makes it easy to buy and download new books as you need, on the go.
Why I recommend a Kindle
reading my Kindle in Riga, Latvia
I love my Kindle for soooo many reasons, but these are the top 6:
1. Most books I’m interested in are cheaper on Kindle. Especially in terms of buying a new or recently released book on Kindle, you’re probably getting a bargain as compared to the paperback, physical-book price. A Kindle itself is quite cheap (starting around $50 for a Kindle Fire tablet, and just over $100 for a Paperwhite, with the occasional crazy-good deal for certified refurbished Kindles at a fraction of the price).
2. You can’t beat the convenience and ease of a Kindle, especially for travel. I’m a voracious reader, and pack my Kindle full of new books before every trip (without taking up space in my bag). I never panic when my plane doesn’t offer movies to keep me entertained, as I look forward to flying as an opportunity to catch up on reading. The Kindle also makes it simple to have English-language books at my fingertips, no matter where I am in the world.
3. If you’re an intense reader, Kindle Unlimited allows you to pay one low, monthly fee with access to hundreds of thousands of books at no additional cost. This includes most Lonely Planet country guides, which is AWESOME for travelers!
4. The Kindle Paperwhite‘s battery lasts for a little less than 30 hours per charge. If you’re reading a bit less than 2 hours a day, this charge will last you for 2 weeks.
5. The highlight feature is my bestie. I use it to highlight sections about places I’ll be traveling to in a guidebook, or to highlight touching quotes in a novel I’m reading. It makes it easy to find important information in the future without having to flip through all of the pages.
6. It helps me read every night before bed. I have a Paperwhite with a backlight, which means that I don’t have to disturb my husband with a reading light.
Tips for Traveling with a Kindle
Especially for traveling, I really recommend considering Kindle Unlimited, which allows you to keep 10 KU books on your Kindle at any one time, for one low monthly fee (you can try Kindle Unlimited for free for 30 days to see if you like it even if you don’t have a Kindle, as the free Kindle app works on almost any device). This package includes access to guide books from Lonely Planet. Before leaving on my trip, I’ll typically download one or two relevant guidebooks, along with a few novels, and a few nonfiction books.
Depending on the length of your trip and how much you plan to read each day, you might be able to just charge your Kindle before you leave, and not have to bother with bringing the charger. Make sure to download all the books you want to bring, shut off the wifi, and THEN charge to get the maximum charge for your trip.
If you’re going to be on a boat or near water, consider getting a waterproof case for your Kindle (or putting it in a plastic baggie).
Downsides of a Kindle
sometimes, a real book is just nicer, like on the ferry to Koh Phi Phi
It’s true, nothing ever really replaces the feel and heft of a “real” book in your hand, but it’s also true that nothing replaces the convenience and ease of access that Kindle offers.
If you’re going on a long trip or you read a ton, you will need to pack an extra charger.
The Kindle Paperwhite‘s screen has high levels of blue light, which has been proven to interfere with sleep for some people. For me, I read every night before falling asleep in bed with my Paperwhite, and I feel like it helps me sleep rather than hinders so I’m still doing it, but it’s something to keep in mind.
If you’re looking for an old book, it might not be available on Kindle, or it might be cheaper to buy it in a used paperback version.
If you want to avoid blue light exposure but want the convenience of a Kindle, the Fire could be the choice for you. This tablet-style e-reader has a “blue shade” feature that lets you block blue light, and adjust the color and brightness of the screen in general.
The Kindle Fire has more functions than the regular Kindle, including the ability to have apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Skype, Gmail, and more. It’s also about the half the price of the Paperwhite, but I don’t know why!
Tablets like the iPad have the ability to download the free Kindle app and to buy, download, and read books just like on a Kindle. You can also get this app on your phone or computer. Personally, I find the phone screen way too small to comfortably read a book, but the computer and iPad apps are great, especially for looking at magazines in full color.