Libraries are a ubiquitous and essential public service that many of us often forget exists. Long gone are the days when a library was just a place to check out books. Libraries have become media centers where you can access computers, WiFi, and a world of digital information. And yet many of us ignore this handy place when we need it most while traveling. These are all the ways you can use a local library as a travel resource.
Go to a library to use computers
If you don’t travel with an international phone plan and you check in with people only when you have access to the internet, you can get easy and free access to computers at a local library. You may have to become a member or pay a small fee for usage time, but this is usually a small percentage of what you would pay at an Internet cafe.
Using an actual computer can also help you search for things at your destination that are difficult to navigate or book on your phone. So a library gives you computer access without having to take a computer on vacation.
When your phone is dangerously close to dying and you’re nowhere near your hotel, you’ll probably be tempted to find the nearest cafe and try to find a table with an outlet just so you can use Google Maps. Not only are outlets not always available, this also forces you to consume something just for the right to use it. Sometimes cities have charging points where you can pay a small fee to juice up your electronics. But a library can solve your problem for free. Find a couch or a desk with an outlet and sit as long as you like. No one will make you feel obligated to order a second coffee just for sitting there.
Print anything you need
In the age of Airbnb and Ryanair, we face steep penalties for not printing our boarding passes specifically when we’re least likely to have access to a printer. The library is an ideal place to print any documents you need on your travels for free or almost free, which includes tour tickets, accommodation confirmation, and boarding passes to name a few. Forget having to look for print shops and sneaking into chain hotels to use their business center. This is precisely what libraries are for.
Use the WiFi
Like outlets, solid WiFi can be tough to come by when you’re traveling. Sometimes you sit down at a restaurant just because they have WiFi only to find it doesn’t even work. If you want to avoid trying to connect to every shady network you come across and giving out your personal information, you can just go to a library and use the WiFi for free without worrying about whether you’re using an unsafe network. In the event that the WiFi network is locked, you can always ask a librarian for temporary access.
Take a break
When it’s too hot or too cold out and you simply want to rest your legs somewhere, you’ll probably also find yourself at a bar or a coffee shop or a restaurant. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes we want to rest without having to consume something. Maybe you just had lunch or you don’t want to drain your energy by day drinking. This is one of the best uses of a library as a travel resource. You can always find refuge in a library where no one will bother you for simply sitting and you can stay as long as you need.
As a bonus, libraries are sometimes beautiful places worth seeing when you travel, so it’s like you’re sightseeing while taking advantage of all its perks. It’s a wonder why people don’t consider the library an essential travel resource.