Planning a trip this summer? Take the library on vacation with you!
Last summer I had the pleasure of accompanying my mother on a bus tour of England. It’s been years since I’ve traveled overseas, but I tracked down my passport, packed my luggage and prepared for an adventure.
My mother asked me to take a break from the Internet for the duration of our trip. My husband agreed. He wanted me to leave my business and personal tech at home.
I figured I could handle having no email, no text messaging, or the dozens of apps I use every day to stay informed and connected. After all, the purpose of our trip was to sightsee and spend quality time with my mom. I knew my staff would take excellent care of Muscogee Moms in my absence.
However, the thought of no entertainment, at all, during a transatlantic flight was a bit much! Long flights, layovers and bus rides get dull no matter how good the view or the company. What would I do about taking pictures? My iPhone doubles as my camera. And how would I stay in touch with my family? I flatly refused to go 10 days without speaking to my sons!
My husband’s solution? A digital camera with extra SIM cards, a 8″ Wi-Fi-only tablet with a Skype account, and a library card.
With some careful planning up front, I discovered that my library card and a Wi-Fi-only tablet could be very useful travel companions.
Like many libraries, Chattahoochee Valley Libraries has agreements with websites that let you check out electronic versions of books, movies, music, and more—for free. All you need is a library card (or eCard) to preload materials to your digital device before leaving home.
Here is how I took the Library on vacation.
Tablets are the perfect travel device — they’re lightweight and have large screens, and they can hold tons of reading material without weighing down your luggage.
Many of the latest best-selling authors, new release titles and classics can be digitally checked out and downloaded to your personal device at no charge from the library’s e-book and audio-books app, Overdrive Read. The e-book topic selection includes humor, romance, mystery, drama, westerns, cooking and much more!
Having a dozen books pre-loaded to my tablet meant I had plenty of entertainment when I needed it. I could return them with the click of a button from my room in Edinburg or they simply disappeared at the end of my pre-determined lending period. No overdue fines, nice!
It’s entirely simple, essentially weightless, and 100% free.
I like to flip through magazines while traveling. The library’s magazine app Zinio is a free repository of over 5,500 digital magazines and publications in full color. Not only can you read the latest issues, but older issues too.
I checked out and downloaded multiple issues of my favorite magazines before leaving home.
All can be read at your leisure — without an Internet connection!
If reading on the move makes you sick, opting for audio entertainment is a great choice.
I love audiobooks because they leave my hands and eyes free to deal with other activities. They are especially great when you have a transatlantic flight on your docket and don’t want to disturb your seat mates. The library’s e-audiobook app OneClickdigital is provided by Recorded Books and offers over 12,000 audiobooks titles for download.
Listening to music helps me relax, especially while trying to fall asleep in a strange hotel. With the library’s app Freegal Music, you can download and listen to music anytime and anywhere. Users can access millions of songs from the Sony Music Catalog. You can download up to five free songs each week and stream up to three hours of music daily.
Beyond the Library
Currently, the Library does not offer downloadable travel guidebooks or maps, nor does it have an app for downloading your favorite movies. The Library’s National Geographic Virtual Library app has tons of great travel resources, but you need an Internet connection to access them.
Still, there are plenty of apps beyond the Library that can meet your offline needs. My favorites include the following:
OffMaps 2 – Our tour guide ensured we got from point A to point B everyday, but this app made navigating London incredibly easy during our free time. This app gives you access to searchable maps, Wikipedia articles and public transport maps. It stores the maps locally to your device and lets you search them for streets, points of interest, sights and addresses. Best of all, you don’t need to rely on Internet connection because everything works offline.
Google Play Movies – Anyone with Android is familiar with this app. You can download and watch your favorite movies and TV shows anywhere and anytime. Keep in mind, however, that due to release dates, not all movies are available to watch worldwide simultaneously. If there is a movie you really want to watch, be sure to download it before you leave home.
Skype – Leaving my iPhone at home was hard, but Skype helped me stay in touch with my family without incurring international roaming charges. Skype has a number of great features, including online text messaging, voice and video chat. My husband installed it on my tablet so I could chat with my boys before bedtime. Of course, I could only use it when I had access to a secure Wi-Fi connection.
My mother and I had a wonderful time exploring England. Without the Internet to distract me, I had an easier time letting go of my “real life” and tuning into those can’t-miss-moments — like a beautiful view or watching my mom charm the socks off everyone with her classic Southern accent. Hilarious!
Every night I backed up my photos to my tablet, then logged into our hotel Wi-Fi to Skype with my family. No, I didn’t get away from my online life completely, but having the Library’s resources preloaded on my tablet helped to make the “lulls” in my trip more enjoyable. By taking the Library on vacation, I had a world of entertainment at my fingertips, any time or anywhere, with Internet connection or offline.
All in all, a successful solution for my needs.
Editor’s Note: If you are a resident of Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Marion or Stewart County, you may obtain a free library card by visiting your nearest branch Library. Non-residents may purchase a visitor card for $35 per year. The visitor card allows full access to Library materials and services. This is an unpaid review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.