If your family includes young children who need and love books, you will need to find ways to "workaround" the challenges. Our child has always been a bookworm and has a passion for reading. We also use books as a primary resource in her world schooling and self led education.
We are now into our 6th year of non-stop open ended travel as a family ( to 42 countries on 5 continents on just 23 dollars a day per person) so have found many creative options. We are not minimalists that count how many things we have, but we have traveled around the world ( 26 airports) over 12 months with just a small carry-on piece of luggage each. We don't own much "stuff" and love the freedom that gives us.
Because we use our small, van-sized, older motorhome to travel Europe ( and keep it as our home/vehicle/storage unit in Europe) we can keep more books than most. We are mostly parked and use walking, biking and mass transit from this "tiny house" base so very green and cheap yet also luxurious. With a bookaholic kiddo who taught herself to read at two, space for books is very important and we have more books than anything else.
We've now given away most of the books in this lead photo ( to the school that our child went to in Spain for four winters) , but they worked really well for the first four years of our family international journey when our child was between the ages of five and almost 10.
Finding English books in Spain and most of Europe, tends to be very hard and very expensive. I am so glad that I sent ahead a bunch of books via boat mail ( slower and cheaper) before we arrived in 2006. We're making this up as we go, so it was a gamble and calculated risk, but absolutely worth it and one of our best decisions.
We're a family that used to spend time every week in book stores and at the library, often bringing home bags of books to devour, so books on the road with such a young child book-lover was a challenge. The hardest things to get rid of when we sold everything in 2005 to start our Location Independent lifestyle was letting go of our beloved books. We had a gigantic collection of beloved kids and adult books.
We got a Kindle last year and we have used digital libraries ( from home) from the start, all great help, but nothing beats a real book, especially for a young child. Even an advanced reader like our child, ( who can read well in 3 languages) also needed high quality picture books in those early years.
We'd take some of these books with us in our RV to homeschool as we roam the world and we'd store some with friends until we returned in the winter. The lead photo shows one of the bookcases that we would make every year for our winter home rental in Spain because the rentals are normally more for weekly summer rentals, thus do not have bookcases.
We paid like 6 cents for each brick and we'd use them all winter then sell them back to the place down the street where we got them and repeat that process every late fall and spring as we returned and then set off to travel. If there is a will, there is always a way!
Now that we have started wintering in tropical Asia where she is immersing in her Mandarin at a high school in Penang, and now that she is 10, things are much different. Both English and Mandarin books are easy to find and cheap in Penang. She also has a library at her school that she loves and we can use the American school libary as well if we want.
We all share the Kindle and Ipod Touch and also still use our laptops for some book reading. We actually hardly ever use the Ipod Touch ( not one of our smartest purchases for our needs) and we mostly get free classic books for the Kindle. We will bring some Spanish books with us ( probably the Harry Potter series as she never tires of re-reading those in English and we store those books in our RV).
We parents stay in "real" books mostly by the luck of the draw, but have faired quite well in that. Most campsites in Europe have a place where campers leave books once they've been read and our resort in Penang has a large supply of reading books as well. We read them and let them go. We get the rest from our library online or buy the rare ones for our Kindle.
We also all regularly all spend time reading in books stores and libraries where ever we find them. Kidlet enjoys that just as much as finding a chocolate shop! Scandinavian libararies are particularly nice and always have English books ( not found easily else where in Europe). Before the Kindle, we ALWAYS had a book for her when we go out to tour or to restaurants, still do mostly, makes meals peaceful and bus and train rides more fun.
We've only kept the fat books that she loves and re-reads ( she is such a fast reader that we have refused to buy skinny books for a very long time) and the important homeschool or world school books and we store them in our RV in Europe.
It's been a lot of fun watching her joy to re-read them all this summer! I have been enjoying re-reading all of Jane Austen's books on the Kindle and a few Bill Bryson books that were left at the campsite. What do you think about books and travel and how do you handle this challenge?