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Tips for Reading on Vacation

Simone Jung

Staff Writer

Simone is a bookstagrammer with a penchant for writing. When she's not working at her day job, she spending her nights following the rabbit hole of good reads. She's an advocate for diverse reads, but she also loves a good thriller, a romantic meet cute, a coming-of-age story, a historical drama, and the everyday mishaps of life. You can find her blogging at

I recently went on vacation to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. We were planning on staying for two weeks for some wonderful “fun in the sun,” so of course I was thinking about what books to bring.

But let’s think about the logistics. I’ll be away for two weeks in a tropical paradise with a pretty unhealthy habit of overpacking and wanting to basically bring my entire month’s TBR with me. How does one manage those parameters?

It took me a long time and even made me come to terms with some realities: I won’t be able to bring all the books. 

It’s a sad moment of despair when you realize that perhaps packing 70% of your suitcase with books isn’t ideal. I mean, where do I put the cute outfits for when we go out to dinner? I can’t carry on my full bottle of shampoo and conditioner. Sacrifices need to be made, and maybe it’s because of my age or my Tetris brain, but I had to think what books do I really want to take with me.

What I tend to forget when I go on vacation is that books should follow the theme of said vacation. If you’re going up to the mountain, then maybe some wintry-themed novels. If you’re going to the beach, then beachy-themed books may be your best bet. But the major takeaways I’ve learned from my last vacation are as follows:

I’m not going to read that 500-page fantasy novel

I always do this to myself and I just finally need to stop. I always end up packing some comically large fantasy novel that I think will work great while on long plane rides. You would think that a book of that mass would keep one interested for the entire time. That’s where I’m wrong.

Because my husband and I like to get active while on vacation, there’s not enough downtime for me to sit and start an epic fantasy. Even the time on the plane is so filled with anxiety about the plane not crashing or excitement for our final destination that I can’t keep my brain focused long enough to read an epic novel.

It’s because most epic fantasies are very involved and include a ton of world building. These books are books you need to pay attention to if you want to get through the whole book let alone the series. So, I’m leaving fantasy novels at home from now on.

Fun, easily accessible novels that I won’t mind getting wet are ideal

So if I’m not reading fantasy novels, then I need to read something. I can’t just go on vacation without any books, so the ones I usually pick up are the cute romance novels or the YA that will make me nostalgic for high school feels. These are the kinds of books that keep my interest. I’m able to read it, put it down, take a dip in the pool or ocean, come back and know exactly what was happening.

I wonder what it is about these books that keeps me engaged while other more epic tomes make my mind race. Perhaps it’s because it’s rooted in reality and I, for one, can’t resist a good book about two people falling in love.

Pack your e-reader

Because these lighter-themed books are easier to read, I tend to go through them more quickly. That’s why I usually take my e-reader with me on trips. I don’t ever want to be caught without a book to read, so I’ll always pack my Kindle in case I’ve run out of books or the books I did bring aren’t hitting my proverbial literary spot.

I also keep a pretty wide variety of books in different genres on my Kindle. If I don’t like one, then I can start another. It’s pretty easy and it keeps me from having to do a bookstore run while I’m busy sipping mai tais on the beach. Although, I don’t mind visiting great indie bookstores on vacation.

At least have a few books for that #bookstagram game

If you’re running that bookstagram life, then bringing books on vacation are great ways to get some beautiful shots on location. I always like to bring books with removable jackets. This way, I don’t have to specifically talk about that book in my bookstagram posts (especially if I’m not in the mood to read it at that moment). I can take the jacket off and it could be any book in the universe that I’m enjoying while laying out in the warm tropical sun.

Taking a few books also allows you to vary your books on bookstagram so you’re not caught posting seven photos of the same book and running out of things to say about them.

Your carry-on is your best friend

I know this last trip really took every last available space in my luggage, so I had to deploy the carry-on. On most commercial airlines, they allow you to take one personal item and one carry-on. If you’re clever, you can pack your books in your carry-on. This works two-fold.

First, you can now have myriad books in your backpack or small luggage that you couldn’t fit into your checked bag. Second, if you get bored with your book or even finish it, you can always check in your carry-on for your next read. The only issue I came across with this is that TSA thought that many books was suspicious. But a few seconds to open my backpack resolved that!

What are some tips you keep in mind when vacationing with books?