Living on the road means you have to go through a major downsizing of the worldly possessions you need on a daily basis to get by. No need for ten different pairs of jeans, wine glasses or even your dvd collections.
Whilst it’s easy to take your music everywhere and your movies can fit on a nice light little External Drive, what do you do with your books? Granted, there are e-readers, but let’s be honest, it’s not the same. Actually, I never even understood how anyone could read on a pad… Call me old fashioned but when it comes to books, trees have had to be killed, ink to be mixed and glue generously slathered on the binding. I love books, real, physical objects. I could almost be said to collect them, something that runs in my family, with the family library containing well over a staggering 10 000 volumes.
So even though I never had any problems wearing the same top weeks in weeks out, listening to my iPod or watching movies on iPad, books have to have weight. I pick them up everywhere and always feel a little thrill when I take down an old friend that reminds me of New Zealand, or Korea, or Greece. I’m the same with magazines, picking them up everywhere I go and ending up with such a vast spread of international Vogue editions I sometimes wonder if I should not open a museum.
Books, it seems, always end up taking up more than a quarter of my backpack, and easily make up half of its weight. But I just can’t help it. Or rather, I could, if I really wanted to. And I have, on my latest travels, gotten much better at not getting too attached to my reading material.
Most hostels have a library of sort, somewhere to swap books with fellow travellers, and I’ve made a very extensive use of those. It’s also always a pleasure to take a book on a journey, and think of the fact that it has a life of its own. Books I’ve picked up in Kaikoura ended up in Melbourne and Bali, books from Bali in Paris, books from Paris in Hawai’i.
And even though it never really seems to make a difference to the size or weight of my pack, it does help keeping it somewhat manageable. And for the books I really didn’t want to leave behind but had to, I of course buy them again when I get home. Even if I never re-read them again, it’s a little part of my trips that I can keep in my room, easily reachable and thoroughly enjoyable.