I used to be a terrible overpacker. I would turn up at airport check in with sweat running down my back, desperately trying to guess which employee was most likely to take pity on me and my overweight luggage before lifting it onto the conveyor belt with Herculean effort.
I have since learned to pack lighter, even travelling carry-on only several times. But packing still remains my least favourite part of travel. There are just so many restrictions – from weight and size to the content of your suitcase – that it sends me into nervous overdrive.
That’s why I avoid flying whenever possible. That and the fact that it’s often the most environmentally destructive solution, especially when it comes to short haul trips. It doesn’t even save that much time when you take into account getting to the airport, standing around for two hours and encountering frequent delays.
In short, wouldn’t it be great if we could just pack without all these restrictions? We can! I’ve teamed up with P&O Ferries to show you just how easy it is to bring everything you want on board when relying on water transport instead.
When I mentioned my overpacking days, you might have assumed my suitcase was full of shoes and dresses. Now, don’t get me wrong – that was definitely part of it. Although I’ll gladly spent a week in soup-stained sweatpants when I’m at home, I somehow turn into one of the Real Housewives when travelling. “Do I really need three outfits
But the bulk of the weight was always made up of books. Nothing is more relaxing to me than sitting down with a good book. It can be on a tropical beach with pink sand or by the fireplace in a Swiss chalet – as long as I have the right reading material I’ll be having the best time ever. If you’re unsure what books to pack for your next trip, I’ve decided to share some of my current favourites…
1. Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami
I’ve been meaning to read something, anything, by Haruki Murakami for ages. I picked this book at random from a pile of novels on my boyfriend’s nightstand and it turns out it contains his first two novels.
They are quite easy to read because of his unique style. After finishing the draft for Hear The Wind Sing, he felt it was lacking something and decided to solve it by translating the whole thing into English. Once he was happy with that draft he translated it back into Japanese et voila – his first novel was born! Because his grasp of the language wasn’t nearly as good as his native Japanese he had to simplify it quite drastically and that’s how he developed his unique ‘sound’. Interesting, isn’t it?
2. The Beach by Alex Garland
The Beach by Alex Garland is one of my favourite novels of all time. His dad was a comic book writer which is probably why his works feel so visual. It’s hard to believe it was his debut!
If you’ve watched the eponymous film starring Leonardo Di Caprio and didn’t like it, I recommend you give the book a chance anyway – they’re so incredibly different. I don’t want to give too much away but this is a story about travel, madness, love, friendship, drugs, war and so many other things. Definitely a must read.
3. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I’ve seen the film but never read the book, so I figured it was high time I changed that. It’s long but I went back and read A Song Of Fire and Ice after watching the first season of Game of Thrones, so you should know I’m not easily intimidated. I’ve not finished it yet but can already tell you that The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a million times better than the film. And the film is excellent!
4. On Writing by Stephen King
I’m currently working on a debut novel on my own. It sounds a lot fancier than it is – most of the time I just stare at my computer screen, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. To tackle that I’ve enlisted the help of Stephen King whom I consider one of the most prolific writers of our time. On Writing is part biography, part instruction manual. A lot of the advice is quite intuitive but it definitely bears repeating. I’d highly recommend this book if you’d like to polish your writing skills.
5. American Nations by Colin Woodard
Oh, who can even understand those Americans? It’s a rhetorical question but if it wasn’t my answer would be Colin Woodard. American Nations isn’t the type you relax with on the beach (unless you’re me), but it’s well worth a read.
Tim divides the US into eleven separate nations with distinct cultural backgrounds and explains why they clash over certain issues. Some of the boundaries run along state lines, explaining what makes Californians so different from those born in Vermont. The book has honestly helped me understand current affairs in the country more than anything I’d ever read or heard before. Ever.
6. She Means Business by Carrie Green
I bought She Means Business months ago but have only just gotten around to reading it. Its tagline is “turn your ideas into reality and become a wildly successful entrepreneur” – who wouldn’t want that?
Its author Carrie Green is a successful British blogger and founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association. Carrie is quite the powerhouse, having started her first online business at the age of 20 and making hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process. I’ve only read the first few chapters for far, but it’s an easy read full of practical advice and lots of sister-like encouragement.
7. Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is hilarious. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea – green chai with almond milk, please – but he is mine. I actually read the sequel, The Road to Little Dribbling, before picking this up but I’m so glad I finally got my hands on it.
Notes From A Small Island sold over two million copies since being published in 1995, but it somehow still feels as relevant as ever. If you can’t afford a trip to the UK at the moment this is as close as you can get to immersing yourself in its culture. It’s a literary IV drip for any Anglophile!
What about you? What is on your reading list this summer?
Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with P&O Ferries. As always, all opinions and silly puns are my own.