Reading on Vacation

Reading on Vacation

If you’re a bookworm, then you’re probably the type of person who packs a few books with  you on vacation. And not just one or two, but you need to pack fifteen books like you’re choosing your monthly TBR. Don’t worry, you’re not alone on this. I also pack way too many books before going on vacation. I think the whole idea is that you’ll now have all the time in the world to sit down and read. Sadly, that’s far from the truth.

Recently, I packed a bunch of stuff for my trip to San Diego. I decided to take my Kindle with me (which has over 300+ books on it, don’t @ me) so I can read some romantic comedies while relaxing on the beach. I figured three books will be enough for a two-day trip.

I planned on reading:

Three super cute romance novels that are super easy to read, put down, and then pick back up again. I even took a break from King of Scars because I knew I couldn’t read a big fantasy novel while on vacation mode.

I figured if my husband was going to be spending his days in the ocean surfing, I’ll be spending my days on the beach reading. I figured I would get more reading done on vacation than I would at home (where I read for about 3-4 hours a day). Guess how much I ended up reading?

Ten pages. I read a whole ten pages while on vacation. The funny thing is I read a book I picked up on vacation rather than the Kindle with 300+ books on it.

I kept thinking to myself how did I get to the end of this trip and only read 10 pages? Of course I have to dive into a weird habit if it’s outside of the normal, so I did some soul searching and realized a few things.

I didn’t ride on a plane

The biggest reason why I bring books on vacation is because of the plane. Most trips I take aren’t road trips, but plane rides across the country. In those instances, I like to spend my time on the plane reading books. It’s actually a really great way to catch up on reading because you’re stuck on a plane for six hours and you can’t just get up and do stuff. You have to sit there and entertain yourself sitting. Most times, I’ll get half a book read or even the whole book read within a six-hour plane ride. However, I didn’t have a plane to take. Instead we drove down to San Diego, which was a lot of fun but I also can’t read in cars. I get terrible motion sickness. I also didn’t have any audiobooks downloaded prior to because I figured whatever was on my Kindle was enough.

I was exploring a new city

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I love to explore new places. We’ll walk down the main street. We’ll walk across the beach. We’ll walk through a park. We just want to take in the atmosphere and enjoy the scenery. In those instances, we just don’t stop. We start early in the morning getting breakfast at a diner, then walk to the beach or to the park or a monument or a museum. We’re on our feet for most of our days and really only break late in the afternoon to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. This weekend was no different. We walked everywhere and then stopped only to recharge before dinner.

There’s no reading during rest times

Because of our recharge and resting, I feel a little too tired to read. After walking around the entire city all I want to do is lay in our hotel bed, watch a little TV, and then start getting ready for the next thing we’re going to do. During these downtimes, my brain is just processing what we’ve seen, what I liked and disliked, what’s to come. Reading becomes a chore in these moments for me. I also don’t have a lot of time (about an hour or two) between events so that makes it more difficult to carve out a moment to read.

It was only the weekend

I think in the future, I’ve learned that a weekend away isn’t enough for me to build an entire vacation TBR. I won’t be at some resort for seven days with plenty of time for me to sit by the pool or the beach and read. This was a two-day trip with us meeting friends, visiting new places, and socializing. For the future, I’m probably better off bringing one book and hoping for some time to read it. I think psyching myself to read a lot on a very short vacation is like eating with your eyes rather than with your stomach.

I think another reason that I didn’t read as much as I did was because my husband never went surfing. He was supposed to go surfing, but his board got banged up on the ride to San Diego and the waves were a little cruddy. I think we plan on going back to San Diego when the weather gets nicer.

If there’s no extended period of time where I can just sit and read, then reading just isn’t getting done on vacation. Oh well…


My Book Journal and Favorite Journaling Tools

My Book Journal and Favorite Journaling Tools

If you look carefully at some of my book photos, you’ll see a journal hidden in the background. Here’s an example:

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If you’re wondering what that journal is, it’s my book journal. My book journal is literally my reading companion. I may not have it on me all the time, but it’s definitely there when I need to write some thoughts down. I also use post-it notes and then just tape it all in here. I want this to be my record for reading. Whatever encounters I have, whatever character flaws, whatever plot holes, I want it all in my book.

I use it to write all my thoughts, feelings, and book-related musings. My TBR for the month goes there. My thoughts while I read go in there. All my thoughts that will go into my review are also written in my journal. Blog posts and articles that I have ideas for also get its start in this journal, but I don’t really do that anymore. I have the internet for that.

But the best part of this journal is that I decorate it with fun stickers, use colorful pens, and basically use it as a daily journal just about books.

Here’s how I approach my book journal:

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I like to start my month with the list of books I’ll be reading. You can see here that this is for December (and the edits I made to my December TBR). I also have a few pages in the front to record every book I’ve read recorded in this journal. I use that as my index for finding what I wrote later.

You can also do it bullet journal style and add some reading life pages. Track your reading hours. Track what days you’ve read. Make yourself a little calendar on how you want to read. I don’t have that in here because I have a separate agenda where I keep all my dates and To Dos. This also keeps my journal from being a catch-all for my daily life.

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You can write long essays. I like to keep my thoughts to simple bullet points. Using stickers and washi tape make the page pretty and fill in the gaps where a bullet point won’t fit. I’m so against a half-written document, so I do my best to format my writing to make it look more full.

Here’s some of my favorite tools to write about my books:

A Leuctturm1917 Journal

I’ll never be able to spell this name correctly, but this is my go-to journal. I’ve been using these particularly for the last five years. They’re the size that I want (honestly, I feel Moleskines are weirdly skinny). They’ve got a grid pattern, which I love for writing out lists or organizing my notes. There’s also numbers at the bottom of the page, which I randomly find charming. It’s the bullet journal, so if you’re interested in getting into bullet journaling and using it as your book journal then this is the one for you. My current one is the 1917 copper version.

Paper Mate Flair Felt Pens

Remember Ghostwriter? Remember that Ghostwriter’s friends would wear felt pens on a lanyard everywhere? I really wanted to be one of those kids with the pen, the composition notebook, and a friendly ghosts that helps me solve mysteries. Even as a kid, I coveted these pens because they were the exact ones those kids used. Luckily I’m an adult now and I can use these all the time. These are amazing for creating fun and colorful headings for your posts. I love using them to annotate my books as well. It gets even more fun when you can match the color of your pen to your book’s cover. I also love to use them as pens and write my heart out.

Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens

No, I didn’t sell myself out to Paper Mate. I’ve tried many pens over the years and the only ones I always come back to are the Inkjoy. When I first played around with these pens, I was meh about it. I especially didn’t like it because it smudged pretty bad on my paper. However, I continued using them because out of all the pens I’ve used, these are the smoothest for my writing style. I think my writing style has to be cramped to a point where my hand is just a bunch of gnarled fingers.

Washi Tape

I’m just going to share with you some cute design I found on Amazon, but there’s a ton of washi tape all over the Internet. Use them to create cute borders, headers, or footers for your pages. I love to decorate with washi tape even if it’s just a tiny piece to fill a gap in the corner. Washi tape also becomes a versatile tool around the house especially when you need some tape and a little bit of decoration would bring your gift/envelope/lunchbox/computer keyboard a little brightness.


I’m not a very strong artist. I can’t draw a stick figure without messing it up. Because I can’t draw beautiful pictures in my journal, I resort to using stickers. There’s a ton of different Etsy shops with beautiful stickers. I love using stickers for this instance. It’s an easy way to convey emotions, share a little smile, or even decorate to theme out your page. I use them before I start writing just so that I have a little writing companion. My favorite is stickermestickers.

Adhesive Roller Tape Dispenser

These are an amazing invention. It’s tape, but you can roll it on. That means, no mess, no drying out, and you can easily tape items into your journal without thinking twice. I love having it around to paste notes I’ve left on random scraps of paper into my journal. It’s also great for gift wrapping, regular uses for glue, etc. I use it pretty much daily for stuff around the house.