The ease with which you can travel around Europe is what makes it such a unique and exciting place to be. Within hours, you can hop from country to country, experiencing cultures completely unique unto themselves.
Just like that lyric from “Don’t Stop Believin,’” you often find yourself taking that midnight train going anywhere—because you’re desperate to leave the place you’re in, but because it’s the cheapest way to get from place to place. So you rack up a lot of travel time.
But you can only look at your phone or sleep for so long until it can get pretty boring. This is when I turned to choose books to read instead. I am no stranger to reading, but to read books while traveling was a much different experience than reading at home. And I am happy I had the experience.
Passing the Time
There are so many reasons to read books while traveling. It’s a great thing to do with your downtime. Not only does reading get your mind actively engaged, but you can transport yourself instantly to new places when it seems like your train or bus ride just isn’t fast enough.
Many times, I found myself so immersed in my book that by the time we had arrived, it was difficult to put it down and stop flipping through the pages.
Another reason you might want to snap some books to read while traveling is to stay informed. There are so many great travel books out there and if you choose the right one, you will be entertained and better educated about what to expect when you get to your destination.
In this way, I found a lot of cool authors that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I also found my travels more engaging when I had read a bit about the countries already. It allowed me to point out different customs and cultural aspects that I may not have understood or noticed, had I not read about them.
What to Read While Traveling
There’s a ton of books out there in the world, and you can really read anything you’d like. At the end of the day, reading is reading, and you will get something out of the experience. But if you’d like to take a more mindful approach to read while traveling in Europe, I can definitely suggest a direction to start.
Travel books are great. And by that, I do not mean travel guides, I mean books about traveling experiences. Travel writers really know how to bring a country to life, right before your eyes, while still letting you find your own treasures along the way.
A travel author I really enjoy is Bill Bryson. He’s very funny and personal in his retelling of his experiences. He humanizes travel and brings back meaning to the word, when you’ve seemed to forget the reason you’re traipsing around the world.
Another suggestion is reading local authors. If you’re traveling to Germany, try picking up a book from a German author and get a feel for their way of articulating stories and ideas. It can be really interesting to see the difference in writing styles from people around the world. Might I mention, the Grimm Brothers?
When I studied abroad and traveled in Europe, I took full advantage of all the travel opportunities I had. London one weekend, Prague the next, Italy the following…
With all of this traveling, I found it really comforting to have a constant in my routine. Reading was stabilizing for me and helped me feel comfortable, when at times I really felt I had no clear destination. I could always rely on my books, and I used reading as a tool to ground myself and set goals.
So, whatever your reason for reading while traveling, I highly suggest sticking to it.