Why a Book is the Greatest Travel Companion….

There’s something about being in motion and physically moving from one place to another that calms my mind and helps me achieve a sense of purpose. No matter the distance, whether on a bus, train, plane, or even a car, travelling fills me with the excitement of possibility, of change and progression, and the knowledge that absolutely nothing stays the same no matter how long you sit still.
I’m also a book hoarder. I’ll admit it. I have an addiction to buying books. If I’m in a bookshop and I see something that’s even mildly interesting or is on sale at a special price it is very difficult to prevent myself from spending hard-earned money on it, even though I’m more than likely already halfway through and just barely started up to about 5 other volumes of completely unrelated material. One of my favourite things to do in an airport is to buy a new book, even if my hand luggage is already over-capacity with the stash I’ve brought from home.
Ironic really, considering that my sister works in a library.
She’s berated me on many occasions for buying books she could source easily within a few days, and simply refuses to see that it’s ok to take them on trips around the world, even provided you return them safe and sound afterwards. I like to see my library card as a passport for a book to be taken away, often wondering as I stand at a shelf how many of the books around me contain grains of sand from faraway beaches, dried pages from a spillage during turbulence, or coffee stains from cafés in bustling cities.

When I read, my brain takes a trip. Something in my mind just clicks, and I end up tapping in to the unquenched wanderlust that’s incessantly telling me to travel, the need to move and see things and go places I’ve never been. If travel is unavailable to me at that time, the book generally does the job and lets me expend some of the mental energy on experiencing the pages of the story, while my body remains stationary.

When I travel, my body physically being transported from one place to another, or even without any fixed destination, it’s my mind that needs to be stilled and brought back down to earth and into the two feet that make this mobility possible. By reading whilst traveling, I enter into this state of calmness and togetherness, the need to move and the need for mental stimulation both being met in a coffee buzz of contented existance. Not only am I aware of being physically transported through new locations and grounds, but my mind is also being taken on a journey through the pages of whatever novel I’ve chosen for the journey (I do have preferences, mind you -I’m not the kind of book-junkie that will read just about anything, but for the purpose of this post there’s not much need for specifics).

While travel companions vary from journey to journey, trip to trip and place to place, there are few transportation methods and systems on which a book is not a compatible match. It makes solo travel all the more enjoyable, while also providing an escape from the pressures of 2-hour-conversations with strange Dutch men with pinstriped trousers purely because he happened to sit beside you on the bus and you don’t know how to stop replying to his incessant questions.

I’m currently compiling a list of books I wish to read this Summer, and to be honest seeing the stack of them pile up in front of me and knowing some of them must be returned to the safety of their library shelves within a set amount of time puts a kind of exciting pressure of me to travel and utilise their power while I can. Thank God for online re-issuing!

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