As I’m sure you’re aware by now, I recently had the fortune to travel to Australia and sample the delights and explore the natural wonders of Queensland. Being from the UK, the flight is horrendous, with a long layover in Singapore as well as the flights themselves, both of which combine to steal away nearly a full day of your life.
When packing, I had to think long and hard about which book to take with me for so that I didn’t get board en route. I was only taking carry on luggage in the form of a massive backpack, and as such I had limited space for literature, giving myself added pressure to choose correctly.
In the end I opted for a tried and tested option- an omnibus of Colin Dexter’s incredible Inspector Morse novels. They seemed like a sure bet- I love all of his work and I hadn’t read them in a while so I would be suitably enthralled throughout the whole massive flight.
During the flight I noticed that some of my fellow travellers had also plumped for omnibuses to ensure that they had enough reading material. One of the girls I was travelling with had chosen a Bridget Jones The Single Years and there was a bloke at the back of the plane who was reading a Jeeves and Wooster omnibus.
This got me thinking- why are omnibuses such a good choice for long haul travel? I suppose the main issue is consistency- you know what you’re getting with work from the same author/ series, so you can safely say, even if you haven’t read every book in the omnibus, that you will be reasonably happy with your choice and won’t hate your reading material for the entire flight.
Then of course there is the not-so-small matter of space. Because each book does not need a front and back cover, and the legal bumf is usually confined to the front of the whole omnibus, they are significantly smaller than lugging however many individual books around with you. This is a great thing when trying to cram everything you’re going to need into a limited amount of luggage, and means that you don’t have to heave vast reams of paper about with you.
Anyone who is about to mention buying a Kindle for long haul travel can kindly fuck off. Whilst tablet computers and e-readers have their virtues, there is something to be said for reading an actual book over staring blindly at a screen, particularly when one is on holiday and wants to switch off. Also, on places there are often restrictions to the use of electrical devices, as well as the limitations that the battery will place on you, as there are often not charging points for ages, and those things drink power.
So, as far as I’m concerned, omnibuses are the way to go. They’re often a cheap alternative to buying all the books in one go anyway, and with so many older omnibuses available second hand they are, in my humble opinion, vital for anyone planning a long distance trip this summer.