Solo travel girl with e-reader talks business
By. Bri Bijman
Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from a dear friend of mine who recently set off on the adventure of a lifetime – a four-month solo backpacking odyssey across Europe. As a recent grad of Halifax’s University of King’s College, she has a deep love and keen wit for all things arts/culture. By now she’s about halfway through her trans-Atlantic adventure and has been writing about it along the way on her blog Backpacking Bri. Her most recent post “Oktoberfest and hagelslag” sufficiently filled me with beer and lederhosen-envy and her routine updates about (required) pit stops at every bookshop along the way seduce my inner “lit lover”, but with this article, “Solo travel girl with e-reader talks business”, we get an interesting argument into the e-book vs. paper publication debate and some inside insights on traveling alone. Original post from her website can be found here.
I think it is about time I start addressing two things that I have mentioned before: the fact that I am a 23-year-old girl traveling alone, and the fact that I am a huge book lover who is using an e-reader for the first time.
Though these two topics seem disproportionate in their levels of importance (curious to know which one you think outweighs the other now that I have stated that), they are both often on my mind as I am traveling, and I feel that they belong in the same post.
First up, e-reader. I spent the first five weeks of the trip with only it to fulfill my creative reading outlet (I am glued to my Lonely Planet book on trains, as I plan out my next destination’s day trips, restaurants, and must-see sights) and I must say I thought I was pretty satisfied. The Kobo makes so much sense for what I am doing – I have 80 books on me at all times, for four months, and they all collectively weigh less than my iPhone! I read two four hundred-ish page novels on the Kobo, and was halfway through Bram Stoker’s Dracula, when, of course, the wonderful J.K. Rowling released her new novel The Casual Vacancy.
As I said in a previous post, I just cannot stop going in to each bookstore I pass, and seeing my beloved Harry author’s new book casually resting in each one, with its intriguing cover, I simply could not resist seeking it out and buying it in Paris’ Abbey Books. I already am relieved and joyed to return to the land of hardcover and pages. The e-reader may represent a fantastic amount of ease for my book-loving self to enjoy many, many novels throughout my trip – and I will continue to do so, simply because I bought and paid for the Kobo – but do not for one second think that I have converted for life. This is how books are supposed to be read: they need to be held, and the turning of the page needs to be physical, felt. They need to not run out of batteries, or be catastrophic if lost. They need to have space for notes and underlines and circles around favourite passages or new words. The importance of these things has not diminished for me, despite the ease of the e-reader. I have never been the type to do things the easy way – I always try to do them the right way.
Which brings me gracefully to my next topic: traveling alone as a young girl is not easy, but it is definitely the right way to do it. Right for me, anyway.
I love going to museums alone, strolling through parks alone, even eating dinner alone in a quaint restaurant (book always propped up beside my bowl of spaghetti or local specialty). Everyone in the service industry is overwhelmingly kind and helpful to me as a girl alone; many of them seem to feel compelled to take on the role of personal guide and protector from others making me uncomfortable or unhappy. Bartenders have been a key part of my nightlife since they are generally excellent to talk to – all of them speak near perfect English, are usually locals, and are mostly extremely outgoing and funny. Making friends with the bartender means setting yourself up for a good, safe night. Safety, after all, is a prominent thing on my mind while I am walking about in a new city. I keep my head up, don’t usually wear headphones, walk with purpose and always (ALWAYS) listen to my spidey-senses. I take care of myself. I always keep enough money on me for a cab home if I feel lost or need to get out of any situation, but never too much money that if anything should happen (knock on wood! Good so far!) I wouldn’t be too deflated. Being alone has meant that I haven’t met THAT many people – a lot of travelers are in groups (pairs are easy to talk to), and don’t feel the need to add a random to their posse, but the people I have met I have had truly great conversations with and have received nothing but encouragement and praise from for having the guts to venture out into this big huge wonderful world by myself. I accept their words with thanks and pride, as I know, and have never been more sure, that traveling alone was the right decision. GO FOR IT, I say, if anyone who is around me or reading this or knows someone who is thinking about it, it is AMAZING. I will never, ever, ever regret it.
As long as you have a good relationship with those spidey-senses, it truly will be the time of your life.