Darlene and I returned last night to Boston after a storm-extended stay on St. John, USVI. Thank you, Blizzard of 2013! We have been going to Maho Bay Camps together for 20 years, and her first visit there was 30 years ago, so we are both sad that this is the eco-resort’s last season. Maho’s long-term lease of the site expired, and the new owner apparently has no plan to continue the business. I have always returned from Maho Bay refreshed and reinvigorated, and this trip was no exception. Naturally, we had our Kindles with us, and as my gift from the islands I would like to pass along the following list of 10 Vacation Tips for Your Kindle.
1. Check Amazon’s Whispernet Coverage Map to see if you will be able to download books wirelessly using 3G at your destination. At Maho, there is no WiFi, but the 3G coverage on all of St. John was excellent. This meant Darlene and I were able to bring books from our archives onto our Kindles, and to make purchases from our cabin-tent in the trees.
2. Leave your Kindle Fire or other tablet at home. If you’ve come to love the calm and focused reading experience on your E Ink Kindle, you will know why I recommend taking a break from the multi-tasking, bright-lights excitement of an LCD tablet. I was glad to find my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ waiting for me here in Cambridge, and tonight we used it to watch the most recent two episodes of Downton Abbey downstairs in the living room. But for our sojourn on St. John, less was more.
3. Bring at least one thing to read on paper, for takeoff and landing, when the FAA still idiotically requires that we turn off our Kindles. For me this trip, I turned to the latest issue of AGNI, the fine literary magazine published at Boston University.
4. If you have a basic Kindle, bring along a plastic bag to protect it from rain, sea, and sand. You will be able to use the controls through the plastic, because the controls are physical buttons. If your Kindle is a Kindle Touch or Paperwhite, you won’t be able to operate it through plastic, so you’ll just have to be mindful in using it at the beach.
5. For thoughtful use of your Paperwhite while reading in bed with your partner, be sure to turn the front-lit screen down as far as you can while still reading comfortably. A Paperwhite set to its maximum illumination can be distracting if your bedmate finishes reading before you do and is trying to fall asleep.
6. If you are at a tropical beach beneath trees frequented by iguana, keep the cover on your Kindle closed when you are not reading. These guys sometimes tumble out of the trees with a disconcerting thump and could do some real damage to an E Ink screen! An iguana drop is not specifically covered by your Kindle Warranty, but if you fessed up to Kindle Support about what happened, I’m sure they would give you every consideration and would probably ship a replacement Kindle to you before you could say “you’re not going to believe this…”
7. If you’ve just finished War and Peace on your Kindle, as I did at Maho Bay, don’t feel shy about asking a guy who is reading it on paper if you can heft his copy, so you can admire just how big a book you read. The fellow I asked this of was glad to oblige, and we had a pleasant conversation about Tolstoy after breakfast in the dining pavilion one morning.
8. Don’t share any notes or highlights from your Kindle. Just read your books the old-fashioned way for a few days. If you must talk about what you’ve just read, do it in person.
9. Try going without reading, watching, or listening to the news for a few days. When you return, you will enjoy the sensation of the world having moved on just fine without your monitoring it every 15 minutes.
10. If you simply can’t live without your Kindle newspaper or magazine subscriptions, sign up for continued international delivery of them over Whispernet 3G wireless for a weekly fee of $4.99. You will receive details on this service in a letter that will appear on your Kindle once you arrive at your destination. This fee is not necessary if you are receiving subscriptions via Wi-Fi.
There really is no better way to enjoy reading on vacation than with an E Ink Kindle, in my humble opinion. If you have other suggestions to pass along, please leave them here in the comments. Bon voyage and happy Kindling!