I finally jumped on the Kindle bandwagon! My new Kindle Touch — a holiday gift from the fam — accompanied me on my trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica last month.
While I’m thrilled to integrate this gadget into my reading life, it does have a few drawbacks specific to travel.
So here’s my take on using a Kindle while traveling:
Lightweight. This is AWESOME for backpackers. Books are usually one of the heaviest items in my pack, and it was so great to not carry that weight, especially since I was moving from hostel to hostel as I worked my way from Nicaragua’s Managua to Costa Rica’s San Jose. I’d bring a Kindle on my next trip for this reason alone. So convenient!
Immediate access to books. The ability to get a book whenever I wanted it — or even a sample of a book I was considering purchasing — felt so… easy.
Without the Kindle, I would’ve swapped my last read for whatever I could find in my hostel or waited until my next trip through an airport to buy a new release. I’ll miss that part of reading hard-copy books while traveling, miss the adventure and spontaneity of trying to find a decent read. But being able to download ANY BOOK I WANT almost makes up for it.
Battery life is great. I worried about this because I often travel in places that don’t have electricity. But I rarely had to plug in the device, and I never found myself without battery power when I wanted it.
Navigating a virtual guidebook. I missed the ease of browsing my Lonely Planet guide for hostels or attractions. On the bus, for example, I like to pull out my guide and flip to a dog-eared page. If I don’t speak the language, I might even show that page to the driver so he’d drop me at the right place. But it’s not as fast to flip to a page on a Kindle.
Reading on public transport. It’s uncomfortable and even rude to use an expensive, high-tech gadget on public transportation in a developing country. It just didn’t feel right, ya know? That meant I read less while on buses than I might have otherwise.
Learning curve. I have yet to learn how to do anything on the Kindle beyond the basics; for example, I need to figure out how to bookmark a page if I’m going to convince myself to read on this gadget long term. Like any new tool, it takes a while to learn how to use it, and it can be frustrating until you do.
For future trips, I’ll use the Kindle for everything EXCEPT guidebooks. I’ll carry an old-school guide, and read electronically for all the rest.
Have you used the Kindle while traveling? Would you recommend it to others?