Choosing Your Vacation Books: Our Readers Share Their Advice

Posted by Marie on May 14, 2018
Narrowing down what books to bring on your next vacation can be a tough decision for the avid reader. So we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to share their bookish wisdom. Below is a list of some of the most popular comments. Make sure to let us know which ones are your favorites!


1. "I can never decide and thanks to my Kindle, I don’t have to," says Ecem.

2. "I like to take books I can leave behind—so your John Grisham or Michael Connelly. Maybe a book the person I'm visiting would like," says Emily.

3. "A book with a setting that's in or around the destination. It gives amazing perspective to both the book and the place!" says Dina.

4. "For a vacation, I usually lean towards something not too heavy. I remember relaxing on the terrace of a condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico while reading Pat Conroy's Beach Music, sobbing. Great book, but not for vacation!" says Freddie.

5. "I like to take light reads that I can put down easily. I also like to take a used book that I'm not worried about getting water or sand on or losing," says Erin.

6. "One book to challenge me, one fiction that won't, one nonfiction that's recently grabbed my attention, and one that's been lying around 5+ years waiting to be read. These can be combined, so it's 2 to 4 vacation reads. Of course, Kindle let's me bring hundreds…," says Steve.

7. "I pack a briefcase with the 2 or 3 books that I'm currently reading...and I visit the closest bookstore when I get to wherever I am going," says William.

8. "Find authors local to where you are visiting. Read their books," says Brad.

9. "Audiobooks, because I love to walk along the beach and listen or just sit and watch the water," says Devon.

10. "The places I usually stay have lending shelves. I'll usually bring a book for the shelf—either one I've recently finished or am about to. I stick to easy-to-read paperbacks for travel: thrillers, mysteries, or romance," says Shannon.



How do you decide what books to bring on your vacation? Share your travel reading plans with us in the comments!

Find more ideas for your summer reading:
The Hottest Books of Summer
20 Top-Rated Books for Every Kind of Getaway
Goodreads Employees Share Their Summer Reading Plans

Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)


message 1: by Mehsi (new)

Mehsi I just start saving all kinds of new books 1 to 2 months in advance of my 2/3 week vacation. Add some books from the library to the mix. And then all (sometimes up to 30 books) in a plastic container and in the back of our car. Camping can start. :P


message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Nolan I'm going to get Outlander on my kindle and read it while I am on holiday.


Dana-Adriana B. Thank God I have my Kindle to save me, every time I'm going away on holiday! I can read anything.


message 4: by Nicky (new)

Nicky I love #3's idea. I might use that next time!


message 5: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I defintielt prefer lighter reads, or re-reading a book I've enjoyed. However, when I was in Indonesia last year, the book I read was Jude the Obscure. Loved it!


message 6: by Ema-Lilly (new)

Ema-Lilly Dream Mehsi wrote: "I just start saving all kinds of new books 1 to 2 months in advance of my 2/3 week vacation. Add some books from the library to the mix. And then all (sometimes up to 30 books) in a plastic contain..."
I do the same thing! I have a designated box that I decorated a few summers ago. I bring as many books as I can fit in that box, so I can choose depending on my mood, and even though I don't have my whole library with me, there's still plenty of options.


message 7: by Cailey Mac (new)

Cailey Mac I personally bring whatever book I am currently reading, one I wanted to read next, and of course my kindle! Although I'm usually so busy and doing so many things on vacation I barely have time to read anyway! it's just for the trip there and back.


message 8: by Luhnàtic (new)

Luhnàtic I never know what books to take on vacation but I always find some to bring home.


message 9: by Vicki (new)

Vicki This is always such a dilemma for me, because I am literally ALWAYS in a GR challenge. Then I always have library books to consider when they're due, so I base it on those two things. And, of course, I take my NOOK/Kindle App. with me. LOL


message 10: by Diana (new)

Diana A few years ago on a beach vacation, i took "Like Water for Chocolate" and "Black Water". Both engrossing reads. It wasn't until later that i noticed both of my beach reads had "water" in the title


message 11: by Janalee (new)

Janalee Zubi If I'm going out my front door and know I won't be home for several hours and will be sitting and waiting in a space somewhere or going on vacation it's like that old credit card commercial but used with the term Nook or Kindle...never leave home without it. A whole library in a little bitty package. Paradise! And if on vacation...don't forget the charger!!!!


message 12: by Diana (new)

Diana Janalee wrote: "If I'm going out my front door and know I won't be home for several hours and will be sitting and waiting in a space somewhere or going on vacation it's like that old credit card commercial but use..."

Me too! Love my Kindle!


message 13: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Noechel Love #6. Totally stealing that idea.


message 14: by Arnie (new)

Arnie Dilbard IS THIS AN AD FOR KINDLE?
THE PERSON WHO READ JUDE THE OBSCURE IS SENSIBLE. IN GENERAL, NEW BOOKS ARE WORSE BOOKS---BY FAR.


message 15: by William (new)

William Richardson Depends on how long I'll be away from home. I'm retired so some times I spend a month or more at my daughters. If I'm doing that I bring the 1 or 2 that I'm reading and then I use the local Library for the rest of the time.


message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Hessenthaler We went to Rome, Italy and I had a accident the day after we got there. I was in the hospital for 15 days. What would we have done without our Kindle Fire's! We didn't run out of books. My husband was able to stay with me except for the times he had to go and take care of trying to get some money back from the train tickets we didn't get to use and some cash, etc. We used to buy used books but the Kindle fire is better. We "buy" free books.


message 17: by Janet (new)

Janet Two tips I didn't see here: 1) if I'm flying, I pick something thoroughly engrossing, so I can forget I'm crammed into an uncomfortable airplane seat; 2) I like to visit Little Free Libraries when I'm on vacation. I leave the book I finished on the flight out and pick up something that looks interesting.


message 18: by Wdmoor (new)

Wdmoor On vacation I always pick out old favorites. There is something comforting about a familiar book in different climes.


message 19: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes I like reading books that are set in the places I will be visiting. I read Twilight, for example, ahead of a trip to the northwest, and yes, it did include a stop in Forks. Another location-appropriate read was Edward Abbey's Desert Solitair. It really enhanced the experience of being in Arches National Park, having this along for reinforcement.


message 20: by Laura (new)

Laura Kindle over paperbacks for space. I also like to pick a book set in the place I'm visiting (we're going to Cornwall next week, for instance, so that means Poldark and Daphne du Maurier). I'd also like to give a mention to 'book swaps' - they might be less of a thing now, but when I was backpacking five years ago they were a fairly common sight in hostels, and can be a really good source of books (particularly travel guides or popular fiction).


message 21: by Arnie (new)

Arnie Dilbard READ REAL LITERATURE. IT GROWS YOU. GEORGE ELIOT'S MIDDLEMARCH OR DANIEL DERONDA ENLARGE YOU IN EVERY WAY, AS OPPOSED TO JUNKERS THAT HELP YOU PASS TIME BRAINKESSLY----IF YOU FEEL YOU MUST READ WOMEN WRITERS.
DON'T AVOID MALE WRITERS. WE'RE TRYING TO IMPROVE OURSELVES AND THE WORLD BY ENLARGING WHAT WE MEAN BY "WE."


message 22: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Recently I've been trying to only bring one book along, the length of which matches how long I'm gone. If I finish it, I choose a free book on my phone's book app. I don't usually have a lot of time to read on vacation, either because I'm busy or because of noise.


message 23: by Janice (new)

Janice Lite reads...all the way.


message 24: by kiki (new)

kiki i like to take books of short stories. vacations are so busy and full of (good!) distractions, that short stories are the perfect thing for me.


message 25: by Marilee (new)

Marilee I approach vacation reads two ways. One, I bring a well loaded Kindle so I can chose which ever book strikes my current fancy or interest. Second, I make a point of visiting a local book store to buy at least one book, usually somehow related to the locale where I'm staying. I look at vacations as a time for pleasurable reading, catching up on books I've been meaning to crack and discovering new ones. There's nothing quite like sitting outside under a shade tree at our rental cottage, without any other cares, getting into a great story. Not to mention whiling away some hours on a rainy day.


message 26: by Beth (new)

Beth Whiting i dont go many places these days so i look for books in settings i wish i could visit.. adventures without leaving home


message 27: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Cox I used to try to guess how many books I would read during a given vacation. Typically, I undershot so would have to visit a bookstore. A few years ago, I finally broke down and purchased a Kindle. What a relief! Now I have hundreds of books to choose from and I save suitcase space for souvenirs. I'll still take one or two paperbacks, if I haven't already finished them prior to leaving for the trip, but these easily fit in my purse and then may be left beneath my seat in the car once I finish them, so as not to take up valuable suitcase space.


message 28: by Marilee (last edited May 19, 2018 09:29PM) (new)

Marilee I ought to add that I always have a recorded book to listen to on my old iPod. On planes in particular, listening to a good book with earphones shuts out noise. One almost forgets how uncomfortable and miserable the flying experience has become. I prefer a good murder mystery which keeps me from feeling murderous towards overly loud talkers and crying, whining kids kicking the back of seats while being ignored by their oblivious parents. Yes, an engrossing book and noise cancelling earphones are life savers.


message 29: by Honesty (new)

Honesty I usually pack an old favorite. It's like bringing a friend along!


message 30: by True.magic (new)

True.magic 5. "I like to take light reads that I can put down easily. I also like to take a used book that I'm not worried about getting water or sand on or losing," says Erin.... this is me!!


message 31: by Gianna ⚴ (new)

Gianna ⚴ E-books because I can't know what I'll be in the mood for.
I always take a physical book or two as well, something that's been sitting around for a while waiting its turn.


message 32: by Carly (new)

Carly Schumacher I bring a couple paperback romance novels since they're easy to pack and I don't have to worry about replacing the book if there is any water damage.


message 33: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Mehsi wrote: "I just start saving all kinds of new books 1 to 2 months in advance of my 2/3 week vacation. Add some books from the library to the mix. And then all (sometimes up to 30 books) in a plastic contain..."
LOL ! Happy reading


message 34: by Meg (new)

Meg Perry I always stop by the airport bookshop and grab one to two books on my way to the gate. It's become my tradition since the first book I picked when I was 12. I always try to look for something I wouldn't normally pick up to read.


message 35: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Cool . I've found some good stuff to read at airport bookstores .


The Bamboo Traveler I always read books about the location I am going to. When I went to Vietnam a few years ago, I read tons about the Vietnam war before and during the trip. This year I'm going to Japan and I'm trying to read fiction and non-fiction books on that country. Can anyone recommend some good books on Japan?


message 37: by Elise (new)

Elise I like to bring something light, always bring extra books in case I finish the one I'm currently reading, and I never lug hardcovers with me on vacation. Has to be paperback. I also find reading a book during my vacation makes the book much more memorable and the vacation trip itself actually. I have happy memories tied to the trips and the books I've read during them. :)


message 38: by Katherine (last edited May 20, 2018 03:50AM) (new)

Katherine Hayward Pérez If my favourite author has a book out at the time, I'll try and get a copy of the ebook. I always bring my iPad so there's so much to choose from. I'll choose feel-good reads or go back and re-listen to a favourite author. If a favourite book is too dog-eared to bring, I'll do my best to get a new copy or just download the Kindle version. I'll also check my NetGalley library for summery books and listen to those or download the books I like the sound of beforehand. I'll download some shorter books too, like The Babysitter's Club books or Sweet Valley High books, some series that really say "nostalgia" to me and that are quick listens. I find physical books difficult to hold and they take up room that can be used for something else in my case. IPads are really easy to travel with. The annoying thing is when the book does not have a Kindle version available and my physical copy is damaged. Making Waves and any book by Katherine Applegate like Beach Blondes: June Dreams / July's Promise / August Magic Beach Blondes June Dreams / July's Promise / August Magic (Summer, #1-3) by Katherine Applegate is great. I also love anything with an Island/ Summer theme like Zoey Fools Around (Making Out, #1) by Katherine Applegate and all the Making Out/ Boyfriends and Girlfriends series.

The Cloud Bay series is more recent and I loved that too! Need You Now (Cloud Bay #1) by Emma Douglas and No Place Like You (Cloud Bay, #3) by Emma Douglas by Emma Douglas (Cloud Bay 1&3) are good listens. Book 2 is good but is more Christmas oriented. I love matching what I listen to with the time of year too.

I always say books are for year-round enjoyment.


message 39: by Rachana (new)

Rachana There's this one paperback always in my handbag whenever I leave the home whether I have to go shopping at the neighbourhood market or travelling somewhere out of the station. Vacations are meant to enjoy and explore the place itself. But definitely during the long journeys I need to keep some good book handy. I get more time to be around my books when I am at home in my little comfortable reading corner.


message 40: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 I usually go on tent camping vacations with minimal access to electricity so a "real book" really comes in handy. So retro; so practical.


message 41: by Lwena (new)

Lwena Well, if you go on holidays, just bring a book that isn't to big and with a simple writing. So you can read it lightly and understand because when you're on holidays, you have so much to do that normally you don't have so much time to spend on reading and stay concentrate when it's a dense book.

A other idea is to bring a book with tales for you to read. They are short and fast to read.

Some books:
The Best Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
L'extraordinaire voyage du fakir qui était resté coincé dans une armoire Ikea
Tales of the Unexpected
Animal Farm
A Mulher que Prendeu a Chuva


message 42: by Megan (new)

Megan I almost always have a book on me. Though my family complains quite a bit that when I leave for vacation I always pack way too many books. But they always come to me when they need a new one.


message 43: by William (new)

William Richardson Rachana wrote: "There's this one paperback always in my handbag whenever I leave the home whether I have to go shopping at the neighbourhood market or travelling somewhere out of the station. Vacations are meant t..."

I carry a book with me all the time, even when walking in the downtown of my city, there are benches where I can sit and rest and read a chapter or two.


message 44: by Jayna (new)

Jayna I'm both a very eclectic and a very fast reader so I'm so grateful somebody or bodies invented eReaders. I go nowhere without my Nook and there are enough books of all different types on it that I can find whatever my surroundings seem to call for.


message 45: by Kenya (new)

Kenya Starflight Why's "Arnie" a.k.a. All Caps Person so against Kindles, newer writers, and women writers? The Kindle won't replace paper books for me but it's very handy anyhow, and there are fantastic female and new writers out there. (Also I wonder if they realize that George Eliot is a pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans, a female writer...)

To answer the question -- when I go on a trip I usually take my Kindle AND a used paperback book from our library's book sale. The paperback is generally easier to lug around than a bulky hardback, and if it gets left behind or ruined it's not the end of the world. (Plus I've deliberately left my used books behind in hotel rooms for the next person to enjoy.) Once I'm done with the paperback or if I get bored of it, I switch to the Kindle.

Also I no longer take library books on trips and vacations -- I work at a library and have seen books lost on vacations all too often. I'll never forget the day a busy international airport called us and said "We found a library book with the phone number of your library in our terminal, want us to ship it to you?" XD


message 46: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 True about lost library books. I was camping in the mountains once and I am convinced that a bear stole my library copy of WALDEN POND. A loaf of bread from my backpack was also missing. It was undeveloped wilderness, not a campground so it does not sound like something a human would do.


message 47: by Kenya (new)

Kenya Starflight Silvio111 wrote: "True about lost library books. I was camping in the mountains once and I am convinced that a bear stole my library copy of WALDEN POND. A loaf of bread from my backpack was also missing. It was und..."

The bear just wanted some intellectual stimulation along with some food. XD


message 48: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 Alas, if only more people were like that bear...


message 49: by Rachana (new)

Rachana Such an inspirational figure that intellectual bear was.. My heart is so full 😅


message 50: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I don't read anything too challenging on vacation. I bring one new book that I'm pretty sure I'll like and one or two that are old favorites--more if the trip is long. I don't use e-readers because I'm so hard on my things in general. What if your kindle ends up under the wet bathing suits at the bottom of the beach bag? You'd lose ALL your books at once!


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