As well as being a chance to unwind and relax, cheap holidays give us an opportunity to kick back and catch up on our reading. Some make plans to tackle that weighty classic, while others look forward to just lounging by the pool for hours with the latest blockbuster. Traveling can also entail a lot of hanging around in airports, but a decent book can make that much more bearable. Ebook readers make it easier than before to take a plentiful supply of literature. Audiobooks, either in compact disc format or on an MP3 player, will brighten up a long car journey, or help you fall asleep on the first night in a strange place.
There’s something satisfying about reading a travel book, whether fiction or nonfiction, while travelling yourself. Bill Bryson’s lengthy but light works, like The Lost Continent and Neither Here Nor There, are both fun and fascinating. Another good travel tome is Peter S. Beagle’s I See By My Outfit, a magical account of a journey by scooter from New York to San Francisco. On the fiction side, you can enjoy a laugh with Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt.
Some books about journeys have deservedly become immortal. Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days features modes of transport from steam train to elephant, while Jack Kerouac’s beat classic On the Road is a cult favorite. Ian Fleming intended his James Bond novels to be read on trains and planes, and they’re the perfect length for a journey.
Chances are you have already considered picking up a guidebook if you’re travelling to a specific country, but you’ll be surprised just how much fiction also help you get to know a country and its people. Try The Good Soldier Švejk if you’re visiting the Czech Republic, Les Miserables in France or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, War and Peace for Russia. Sometimes a really engrossing novel can make life seem like a holiday itself!
Finally, a few words about what not to read. If you’re of a nervous disposition, you might want to avoid novels about air disasters or hijackings, or anything that plays up the sinister side of your destination, like Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy for Sweden. Timid flyers might prefer to lose themselves in the realm of fantasy or science fiction instead, or find inspiration in the pages of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.