Kindle tips for travelers


The iPad may be the current darling of techie travelers but some of us are waiting for the first generation kinks to be worked out and a decrease in price (or a sudden cash windfall) before taking the plunge. While still a “monotasker” compared to a tablet or laptop computer, Amazon’s Kindle is still a great tool to carry books on the road with a lightweight design and almost limitless capacity to store whatever travel guidebooks, beach reads, or other reading materials you desire. Combined with the easy ability to search within a book for a place name or keyword, a much lower profile than carrying a tourist map, and limited but free web browser, Kindle is a good choice for travelers. Here are a few other ideas beyond ebooks for your next trip:

  1. Google Maps are a fantastic resource when traveling, but lose their usefulness once you are without internet access or unwilling to pay for data roaming. Whether you download individual maps of city neighborhoods or get all fancy with creating your own Google Map of destinations and recommendations, having a “hard copy” on your Kindle is handy when you are offline and want to quickly locate that vintage store in Berlin a friend told you about.
  2. Many free PDF travel guides are available online including In Your Pocket and Arrival Guides. While not as extensive as a guidebook, they provide a few suggestions for where to stay, eat, shop, and what to do in many cities and often cover less-traveled destinations such as Eastern Europe. Lonely Planet has also introduced Pick and Mix chapters for purchase, perfect for when you only need a chapter of a guidebook rather than a whole country book.
  3. Create your own travel guide by saving magazine articles, blog posts, and web pages for your destination with content more recent, relevant and varied than any guidebook. Tote along Gadling’s guide to Paris’ Japanese quarter, The New York Times‘ 36 Hours in Copenhagen, or the Wikitravel page for Mumbai.

How to save documents for your Kindle: most Mac browsers have a Print to PDF feature and PDFs are easily read on the Kindle. PC users can download a program such as PDFCreator to save PDFs. If you have another format including HTML or a Word document (good if you are copying and pasting text), you can email to Amazon and they will convert and send back. Then you can add documents via the USB cord to your Kindle, simply drag and drop into the Kindle documents folder. While many files don’t have the same functionality as ebook format, you can zoom in and often search many of the file types.

While many of these documents can simply be printed, printer access is often scarce on the road and this method saves a lot on paper. Any other travel tips for Kindle? Leave ‘em in the comments below.