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Travel Light | THE KINDLE
One very easy way to travel lightly

Travel is difficult when you are struggling to lug most of what you own with you. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but when you pick up your carry-on bag and you have to grunt to lift it, well you may have too much.

This is a way of life for a photographer like myself. Anyone with valuable electronic equipment is unlikely to put it in checked baggage because of security issues, not to mention being subject to mauling and bumping. So, these items end up in your carry-on.

Let's add accessories to your gear, a video camera perhaps, a travel umbrella and light jacket. Oops, full! While at the airport you see a bestseller hardback you want to read, as well as a couple of magazines to add to the book and magazine you already had packed.  Luckily you've got just enough room to cram them in, then you pick up your bag: ughhh!

What to do?

Thin out the herd in your bag? Yes and no. The books are the obvious choice when it comes to cutting weight but I can't travel without reading; no, that won't happen.

Electronic books (eBooks), eMagazines and eNewspapers are a great way to replace paper versions and I have tried various ways of carrying them. I have downloaded books onto my PDA and it worked well except book selection was very limited.

There is, however, a greater selection of eBooks for the computer and it's a great solution when I travel with a notebook. eBooks.com , a digital bookstore with over 100,000 titles, is a great source for ebooks and they offer 10% off New York Times Best Sellers! You simply download them directly to your computer.

Want to bring eMagazines also? Check out Zinio. Get immediate access to 850+ books and magazines in high fidelity digital format.  Beside being in full, magnificent color, pages "turn" easily and pictures are zoomable.  Annual subscriptions as well as single issues are available through Zinio.

But I don't have room for a notebook

It's the cross I must bare as a photographer; my cameras come first.  But there are other solutions.

Consider a Netbook: a smaller version of a notebook computer designed for travel, used primarily for surfing the internet or blogging, movies, perhaps HDTV.  Some may come loaded with a GPS feature for driving directions. These mini laptops are "mobile internet accessories" as one manufacturer put it, and their reduced size appears to be perfect for travel.

Another possibility would be to download audiobooks to your iPod, iPhone, Blackberry & over 500+ devices. This is a convenient way to "read", certainly a relaxing one when traveling.  Downloading audiobooks onto an MP3 device is also a great spacesaver.

But there is one more solution: an eReader and the one I have come to enjoy is The Amazon Kindle. Sounds like something you start a fire with, perhaps lighting the books you will never have to carry on again.

But what is a Kindle?

The Kindle by Amazon is a wireless electronic reading device, an eReader, designed to "carry" eBooks, eMagazines and eNewspapers and can it carry a lot: 1500 books worth on my model. It downloads directly from Amazon's selection of 350,000+ titles via it's built-in wireless feature without having to download first to a computer. In fact, anywhere you have cell phone service, you can shop and download your purchase within 60 seconds.

Want to keep up with your blogs? No problem, you can subscribe for a nominal monthly fee to thousands of blogs which will also update automatically the next time you turn on the wireless.

The Kindle offers several other nice features. It contains a full dictionary so you can look up words as you read. You can access Wikipedia, the world's largest encyclopedia and even do searches on the internet (to sites that are primarily text sites).  It has a dedicated email address so you can email Word and PDF documents or pictures to your Kindle.

It will even function as an audiobook. Let it read to you while driving!

Get By With Less.....Weight

A lot less, since the Kindle only weighs 10.2 ounces and is only 1/3 inch thick. It reads like news print so it is not backlit, but because of this a charge will last anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks depending on how long you have the wireless function on, which you don't need to read what you have downloaded.

But aren't they just for rich people?

Initially, like any other new electronic gadget, they were pricier than they are currently. Buy a refurbished unit and save more; get the original Kindle 1 model as a used unit for even less. 

The newest Kindle DX, does come with a price increase, but it also expands the screen size from 6" diagonally to 9", a welcomed feature by us babyboomers.  It also comes with a book capacity that is doubled, if you need more than 1500 books with you.

But the good news is that they can almost pay for themselves!  Well, almost:  hardback book prices are lower when available in the Kindle edition.  New York Times Best Sellers and new releases are only $9.99 unless marked otherwise.  Have you priced hardbacks lately?  Keep up with the Kindle blog and frequently books are available at specially reduced prices, if not occasionally free for a limited time.

Can you say Green?

Not only do you save green when you purchase on your Kindle what might otherwise only be available in hardback, but you are living the green lifestyle because you are saving trees, a lot of trees.  The number of books I currently carry in my Kindle has saved me from installing many more bookshelves to hold them, not to mention storing the newspapers I haven't yet read.

Are there any drawbacks to the Kindle?  The most glaring one is that the screen is only in black and white, but most hardbacks are B&W anyway; color is obviously preferable for magazines.  Also, not all titles are available in the Kindle format, but with a library of over 350,000+ book titles there will be more than enough for you to choose from.  In reading customer reviews, there are other flaws but for my needs, they are minor. 

There are more nice features than can be mentioned here.  Want more information?

The Amazon Kindle


In short, I love my Kindle because it allows me to...

Take less, travel easier and much more comfortably.

 

TravelUplan.com is a website devoted to trip planning and travel preparation. It was created as a product of years of researching trips, be it for business, sport or decadent relaxation. The author and developer of the website enjoys travel for many reasons: hiking, photography, and the discovery of new places, faces and food.

Use TravelUplan when planning your next trip as well as for more ideas on how to travel lighter, easier and perhaps even cheaper.

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