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You have decided on a trip. You can go to one place for a couple of days or for a couple of weeks. But the best part is that you can go with friends and family. I mean your books.

Travel is a great opportunity to get out into the world and meet other books. It could mean traveling halfway around the world to go to a special bookstore that was a former theater or to marvel at beautiful illuminated manuscripts. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to read a book somewhere next to your sofa or bed.

But the biggest problem bibliophiles face is the daunting question: how do you pack books for a trip?

After many hours in the library / laboratory and years of travel experience with books, here are a few helpful tips so that you can pack your suitcase optimally.

Decide what to read

This is the hardest part in packing books. What do you want to read Some people choose easy reading, the famous beach reading. Others want to catch up on those big tomes for which they simply don’t have time. There is also a healthy group of people looking for books that are relevant to their travels.

The best plans from mice and humans.

The only obvious solution is to pack lots of different books. Throw in a detective novel or two along with a critical story of pickling. And maybe a book of Renaissance poems and this romance novel about the chemistry of chemistry. Whether you fancy a snack or a great literary meal is up to you to decide for yourself. Bring Moby Dick but don’t forget to bring The Devil Wears Prada too.

Too many books

Once you have chosen your books, you now have an even more difficult problem to solve. How many books should you take with you? Unfortunately, our suitcases are finite spaces, not the bags that we should already have. It doesn’t help that the storage space in airplanes is getting smaller from year to year, similar to the garbage room a la Death Star. Plus, with fees, they become super tangible.

If only we were in the time when steamer suitcases were the norm. (Please, a moment of silence for the trunk of the steamer).

So what should you do, given the restrictions on suitcases and plane fees?

The most obvious thing to do is to use an equation. Yes, a proven equation that will tell you exactly how many books you will need for your trip. It takes into account travel days, different genres you might want to bring, the difficulty of books and the size of your suitcase.

The equation

D = number of travel days

G = different book genres

r = relative degree of difficulty (from .01 to 1, easy to demanding)

S = square inch suitcases, bags

B = book size in square inches

So if you travel 4 days, D = 4

and you have three genres of books:

Relative degree of difficulty: G1 = .03 G2 = .08 G3 = .02

S = large suitcase, 288 square inches + backpack 15.5 square inches

W = 54 square inches

Voila! You get 10.8 books. Always round to 11.

Dead easy. You don’t need clothes, do you? Isn’t traveling about living in the same t-shirt and shorts every day?

In addition, travel guides do not count towards the total number of books. That’s just a given.

pack suitcase

Now that you’ve actually figured out what books to bring and how many, the hardest part is figuring out how to package them. You don’t want to put them all in one suitcase because that’s trouble. It’s important to hand them out just in case something unpleasant happens. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

You need to be strategic and figure out which ones will fit in your personal item and in your checked suitcase. So for the plane or train, you’ll want a primary book, and then a secondary one after you’ve read the first or when you find you don’t like the first. And then another tertiary. You need to plan if there are delays. Nothing is worse than a delay and a lack of reading material. You may need to speak to the person next to you and you haven’t signed up to do that.

Don’t forget that as a last resort, you can stuff your coat with books. Especially with the ever-decreasing maximum weight of luggage.

Question-and-answer time

Q: What about e-readers? Wouldn’t that save a lot of space?

On a. They may be space-saving devices, but batteries don’t last forever. Books are. (Except for the Alexandria Library … too early?) Plus, if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need to find a plug that matches the endless enigma of outlets. Why bother?

Q: What about buying new books?

A: Good point. Consider getting a new suitcase. Well worth taking home your travel library. I mean, why else do you travel other than to get more books?

That should keep you on the pages for your trip. At second glance, an e-reader would be a good addition to these 11 books. Yes, I would bring that too.

For more book wrapping advice, see this rioter’s book wrapping advice. Or here is a list of 100 great travel books. You should bring them all on your next trip.

Have fun traveling!