How Bookcrossing Influences my Travel

We all travel for different reasons. There is no science behind choosing the next destination, but sometimes there are things that draw you to one place over another. For me over the last few years, that thing has been Bookcrossing.

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Bookcrossing is a global movement started in 2001 around the concept of setting books free. This is a great way to stop books gathering dust on your shelves. Before Bookcrossing, I kept every book I read. Now I am happy to give them away. Users sign up on the website, then register their books. The books now each have their own unique identification number. Each reader can come to the website and make an entry. All previous people who have made entries on that book can see where it is now.

Bookcrossers are most well know for leaving books in public places, for example on a park bench or on a train. But we are about more than that. Books are swapped and shared at meet ups that happen every month around the world. We participate in “book rings” and “book rays” where you receive a book in the mail, read it, and send it on to the next person on the list. There are Bookcrossing conventions that are held all over the world and these have become the basis for many of my big trips around the world each year.

Many countries and regions of the world have their own smaller version of the convention each year. We call them an Unconvention, a very casual version of a convention! Of course all are welcome, whether you are from the region or not – in fact we all love to meet visitors from all over the world. There is a great community amongst Bookcrossers, and you are likely to get many offers of hospitality from other attendees.

Australia and New Zealand combine to have a Bookcrossing Unconvention each year too. We meet, eat, drink and talk a lot. Books get an occasional mention, and generally we just have a great time. Most of the regular attendees have been gong for years and its always fun to catch up with people we haven’t seen for a year as well as meet new people. We alternate countries each year, and the Uncon has been behind two of my three trips to New Zealand.

In 2019 those crazy New Zealanders have become a little confused and have decided to hold the Bookcrossing unconvention on Australian soil – on Norfolk Island. Of course all are welcome, whether you are from this region or not – in fact we love to meet visiting Bookcrossers from all over the world.

A book tree becomes an attraction in itself in Auckland

In April each year there is an International Anniversary convention. I have been lucky enough to have attended the last five, and have plans for the next two.

My first International Bookcrossing convention was an easy one – it was in Melbourne in 2014. It was only a short flight to attend, and it was with many people that I had met previously through smaller meet ups and conventions. I met people from all over the world, littered Melbourne with books during a flash mob on the steps of the state library, and went home with way more books than I brought.

The curious onlookers surveying the books left by the flash mob outside of Melbourne Library

I thought that would be the end of my international conventions. I wasn’t planning to fly half way around the world for books. Soon after, I was planning a family holiday for my daughter Bailey’s eighteenth birthday. We were meant to be travelling in January, but Simon could not get leave and we changed it to April. When I was asked if we were going to the 2015 Bookcrossing convention in Oxford, I had said no, we couldn’t go because we were already on holidays at that time, and would be in Dubai. Of course the reply was “Dubai? Well, you’re already most of the way there, you may as well pop on over!”

Oxford was amazing. I again met a whole pile of new people, and got to catch up with many of the Australian and New Zealand Bookcrossers I hadn’t seen since Melbourne the previous year. It was also our first time in England, so we enjoyed some of the tourist attractions in Oxford too. We visited the Bodleian Library and Oxford Castle, and generally just wandered around the streets marvelling at the buildings. We tried Pret a Manger because we don’t have it here in Australia, and bought something at Boots too. Oh, it was all so….English!

Books just hanging around in Oxford

Twelve months later we were in Athens! As soon as I heard the 2016 Bookcrossing convention was going to be in Athens I was going! Mostly because it was a good excuse to be able to go to Turkey. I had wanted to travel there for years, but I had never been able to combine it with anywhere else or justify it as a destination in it’s own right. Now I could!

Turkey has since become my favourite country to visit. There is just so much to do and see there, and the people are so friendly and hospitable. I am devastated to hear about all the troubles they are having and the effect it is having on the tourism industry. I also threw the Greek Islands into the mix for the trip, and ticked Santorini off my bucket list.

Greek theatre poster just for the specially written convention performance

In 2017 the Bookcrossing convention was in Oslo, and this was the starting point for our twelve months of travel. Initially this trip was going to be from February 2017 – February 2018, but we realised if we did it from April 2017 – April 2018 we could squeeze in a convention at each end of the trip. So April 2018 saw us in Bordeaux right before  our return to Australia.

In a few months I am off to Europe again to attend the 2019 Bookcrossing convention in Mainz, Germany. This time it’s a little bit special, because I’m not just attending the convention, I will be spending a few minutes up on stage convincing everyone to come to the next convention. During our travels last year, I came up with the crazy idea that it must be Australia’s turn to hold a Bookcrossing Anniversary Convention again, so in 2020, the rest of the world will be coming to enjoy the sunshine and surf on the Gold Coast.

A book “in the wild” in Hobart

I love that at least part of our travels have a purpose. There are just so many places in the world that I want to go to that sometimes it is hard to choose where to go next. Bookcrossing has given me a starting point for my adventures.

For more information on Bookcrossing head to the website here. If you want to know more, feel free to contact me below. I can potentially put you in contact with local Bookcrossers who can show you the ropes.

Oh, and if you come across a book in a park or on a bus or in a café – in all likelihood it’s meant to be there, waiting for you to pick it up and continue it’s journey.

Do you have a hobby that works well with your travel? How do you decide where to go next?

Want to read more ? Try these
Travel Diaries – Norway
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Inspirational Travel Books

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42 thoughts on “How Bookcrossing Influences my Travel”

  1. Sadly, I’ll miss the Oslo convention, but definitely aiming for Bordeaux. has given me a great many books, adventures and friends.

  2. This is such a wonderful initiative and one I have literally never known about before reading this post! I love the idea of setting a book “free” – what a great way to get inspired to travel!

  3. Really loved reading and learning about Bookcrossing. I must visit the site, go through my books, and set out to release some of them. I had not heard about it prior to reading your lovely post.

    • Thanks Christine. Bookcrossing works well when travelling as there are no bad feelings when I just leave a book wherever I finish it, knowing that one day I might hear from it again on it’s own journey.

  4. This is a super interesting concept. I had not heard about it, though. Thanks for sharing this article. It’s a great way to share your book so that others can enjoy it too. Loved the article.

  5. This sounds like such a cool initiative!! About 2 paragraphs in I was mentally preparing my comment to ask if it’s just an OZ/NZ thing or worldwide, then read on to see it brought you over to Oxford so yeah, worldwide haha. I’ve got way too many books lying about gathering dust, I’ll definitely have to get into this!

    • Thanks Rhiannon. Yes, get onto it! I believe the Bookcrossers are very active in the UK. You might be able to find a book “in the wild” in your local area.

  6. Oooh I love this!!! I am part of a couple groups on Facebook that abandons art and marbles. I can do some art but I dont know how to make marbles but, this works for everyone. Thank you for sharing.I’m headed to that site now!

    • I had never heard of it being done with art and marbles. I wouldn’t be good at either of those ? Lucky there are plenty books around!

  7. Amazing idea to get inspired to travel, anyway I have seen some books just outside the library in Melbourne but I really didn’t consider they were free! Something new to know, thanks for sharing it 😀

    • Thanks Davide. If you’re a Melbourne local, they have a free book exchange in Melbourne Central called the Little library that Bookcrossers often leave books at. I do every time I am in Melbourne.

  8. I am a book lover. But I didn’t know about the concept of bookcrossing. It sounds so interesting. I will try to find out if there are book crossers in my town and if they do meetups. I will love to join

    • Thanks Neha. I hope you can find some local Bookcrossers. If not, share with your friends and start your own group ?

  9. Bookcrossing seems to be such a cool idea connecting people worldwide 🙂 to reply your question from post, recently I found out a shop in neighbourhood selling old or damaged Lonely Planet tourist guides for a little money – nice motivation to visit a new country!

  10. BookCrossing isn’t generally the reason for my travel, although I usually have books along to release, and I have been known to get together with local BookCrossers at my destinations. I did attend the anniversary Convention in Charleston, SC (in 2007) and the unConvention there in 2008, and helped host the 2011 anniversary Convention here in the Washington, DC area (the last time it was in North America). I am hoping to get to Bordeaux in April of 2018, and if I make it there, I hope to meet you!

    • Another Bookcrosser ? And even one who has been to conventions! Wow. So good to hear from you. Hopefully you do get to Bordeaux and we can meet. If not, it would be great to have the convention back in North America soon so I can visit there. I am Romney on Bookcrossing 🙂

  11. Great writing Josie. I am always astounded that so many people still do not know about bookcrossing. As you know, it has formed the basis of my travel for a few years now – New Zealand, Washington DC, Dublin, Oxford and Athens. Sadly, I will not be attending Oslo and hope you have an amazing time …and I will see you in Bordeaux!

  12. I love bookcrossing! With our new found love of minimalism we wont take home a book unless we find it. We love the idea of reading and then releasing them free again. Not only is this a great way to spread the love of books, but it is also a money saver!

  13. I love bookcrossing! I’ve found my first book at Ikea years ago in a drawer somewhere. I first thought it was one of the fake books they have lying around everywhere… Sadly, I completely forgot about bookcrossing the last couple of years… Thanks for reminding me again 😀

  14. I love the idea of Bookcrossing. Sadly none of the books I’ve release ever seem to have been picked up. I had no idea there are Bookcrossing conventions! I’m putting that on my bucket list now! My travel destinations are usually based on literary inspiration- places important to a book or an author, a place created due to literary inspiration, bookshops, and now book conventions!

    • Hi Elizabeth. Yes, sometimes it can be disheartening when the books don’t get journaled. But I’ve had some turn up over five years after I have released them. Of course you get a much higher rates when you met up with other Bookcrossers at conventions ?

  15. What an awesome way to travel! To be honest, if I would have seen a book lying around somewhere I am not sure if I would have picked it up. Good that many of them have a note on them. I’ll pay more attention from now on and maybe I will find a book myself one day 🙂

    • I hope you do come across one now that you know what it is! I found a book really early on after I joined by our luck, and I was so excited! Probably too excited really, the book ended up being rubbish ?

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