Is there anything worse than unzipping your bag to find a brand new book splayed open, spine cracked, cover damaged, and pages wrinkled beyond repair? We literally just shivered at that thought. But we can’t travel without at least a few vacation reads on hand, so we’ve had to come up with some clever solutions to keep our novels orderly and unharmed this summer.
Whether you’re cramming paperbacks into a carry-on or strategically arranging the contents of your checked bag, we’ve got some practical tips for keeping your books safe. (A few of these work for transporting our book inspired candles, too!)
Make Use of Compartments
Sometimes, just keeping your paperback separate from the rest of your belongings is enough to protect it. If you’ve chosen a slim graphic novel or are leaving your computer at home, put that skinny compartment in your backpack to work as a book haven. Some rolling carry-ons even have a separate zipped compartment for computers, so you can store your treasured volumes in the overhead when you hop on a plane. And if your bag is floppy, just add a clipboard or even a stiff magazine in to help that compartment keep its shape.
Remove Book Jackets
Don’t yell at us, but we have definitely unfolded the front flap of a book jacket to use as a bookmark before. That being said, we hate to see them ripped or otherwise ruined – and that’s all too likely when hardcovers are bumping around in a bag during travel. At the very least, remember to take those glossy covers off and leave them home where they can remain unscathed. If your hardcover gets scuffed, you can at least cover it back up when you replace the jacket!
Pick Up Some Fabric Book Covers
If you’d rather leave the book jacket on, or you have a hefty paperback with a firm front, another option is to cover things up with a fabric book sleeve. You might remember these handy dandy pieces of stretchy material from your schooling days – they were all the rage for disguising ugly textbooks. Now, they’re back to save the day. A fabric cover can be used to protect your book from stains, scratches, and damaged corners. Plus, they come in a million different designs, so you can pick your favorite or even buy some material and make your own.
Buy Used Books
We love browsing the stacks in used bookstores (Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore is one of our Minneapolis favorites), so we really don’t need an excuse to stop by – but here it is. Used books aren’t just cheaper than new ones; they also make great travel companions because most of them are already a little dinged up. If you don’t normally buy from used bookstores, consider stopping by your local shop before a trip to see what they have for sale. You just might find an old favorite or a lightly used bestseller begging to accompany you on your getaway.
Break Out the Tupperware
This tip is weird, but it works! Tupperware is available in a wide variety of sizes, so pick up a vaguely book-shaped plastic one, pop in your paperback, snap on the lid, and enjoy the sweet, sweet safety. Don’t buy a huge tub for one book, though – your novel will bounce around in there and could get even more damaged than if it were just sitting in your bag! Instead, keep the size similar to the book or books you’re trying to transport. A close fit will keep things in place and unharmed.
Pack an E-Reader
We adore the feel of flipping pages, so you won’t catch us with an e-reader. But we have to admit that those handy devices make reading on the go much easier, and we do have some ebooks on our iPad. If you travel a lot or tend to bring multiple books on trips, a Kindle or Nook could be the solution to all those bent covers and crinkled pages. Granted, you now have an electronic device that’s a little more delicate than a book to protect, but that’s a problem for another day.
Play Luggage Tetris
If you’re really in a bind – maybe you’re like us and can’t resist buying new books on the road – it’s time to do some strategic packing. Books usually suffer the most damage when they flop open, so do everything you can to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you’ve got that Tupperware on hand, now is the time to break it out. Think about the orientation of your book where it sits in your unzipped bag, and also where it will be when your suitcase is all packed up and being carried around. With some careful arranging, you should be able to wiggle a book into a supportive position that keeps it firmly closed while in your bag.