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How to Get Free Books While Traveling Full Time

As an avid reader, I was quite sad that I couldn’t bring my library with me on the road. Hundreds of books would not have fit into my RV, haha! Finding free books while traveling isn’t as daunting as it may seem though.

Here is how I find books plus a few other options, so you’ll never have to go without a book as a temporary or permament full-time traveler!

*Note: This post contains affiliated links from which I will earn a small kickback. Thank you for your support!*

RV Life

Here’s a little quickie background on me. I left my library jobs and hit the road with my husband in our Class C RV that we renovated ourselves. We are traveling the country for a while to see the sights and to find a home to settle down. 

Free Books While Traveling

Here are your options! I want to focus on free options as much as possible, but I will throw out a few paid options for you as well to get access to books.

1. Public Libraries

As a librarian myself, I can’t help but put this option first and show you everything the library has to offer. There are a lot of options for full-time travelers when it comes to libraries so read carefully!

Your Local Library

First, before you start your journey in your new mobile home, update your library card at your local library. This way you can still use your  library card for a while and take advantage of the online benefits for a while before it expires. 

Online Sign Up

Second, as a full-time traveler, you will either have your mail going to a family member or friend or you are using a mail forwarding service. Either way, you should have an address that you can use to sign up online for a library card in that state. Here is a list of how to get a free library card in every state so you can use Overdrive to borrow books online.

Out-of-State Card

Third, some libraries will let you sign up as an out-of-state cardholder. There is usually a yearly fee, but it worth it given the amount of benefits that come with having a library card. Check out this Book Riot article and A World Adventure By Book article on which libraries offer out-of-staters and even international travelers the ability to sign up for a library card.

Free Books Section

Fourth, many libraries have sections or a cart of books that they are giving away for free or very cheap (like a dollar a book). You can ask at the front desk or sometimes they are close to the entrance or the restroom. This is a great option to find physical books if you don’t want to do ebooks. When you are done with the book, you could always try donating it to another library or put it in a little free library (which I’ll talk about in the next option below)

Visiting Libraries

Fifth, if you are a library lover like me, it’s always fun to visit the local libraries in whatever town you end up in. You could find real gems and you could always spend a couple hours in there flipping through books. 

Library eBook & eAudiobook Options

Once you have a library card, you can utilize all the online benefits that library system offers. Your best bet is that you will have Overdrive, so you can get ebooks and audiobooks online. You can even request books if the library doesn’t have it already. 

There might also be other online services like Hoopla, and Kanopy. Hoopla has ebooks, audiobooks, movies and music. Kanopy is a movie streaming service. You can get more than just books for free at the library! So make sure to see what your library offers.

library free books while traveling
Cary Regional Public Library Display
free books while traveling
Little Free Library in Little Switzerland, NC

2. Little Free Libraries

Little free libraries have really become a movement the past few years. I feel like I see them sprouting up everywhere which is terrific! They are quite literally miniature book exchanges for you to take and leave books as you please. 

Personally I always drop off any books I don’t want anymore into a little free library so someone else can enjoy them. They are definitely a great way to find free books while traveling. You can even locate their exact spots on their website.

3. Open Source Websites

There are many websites for you to find books online. Here are a few worth looking at:

Quail Ridge Books, NC

Paid Option: Support Local Indie Bookstores

This is the only paid option I will give because I do it myself and I support it wholeheartedly. If you are a book lover, consider visiting some indie bookstores while you are on the road and buy what you want to read there. 

You can always put the book in the little free library after you finish reading it or send it home to friends or family. I can’t help but buy a book or two even if there’s not too much space in our RV.

More Free Books While Traveling

Just the other day at a festival I saw a crate of free books by a vendor. So always keep an eye out, you never know where you will find free books! 

Is there anothe spot I missed? Comment below and let me know so we can share it with everyone.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Erica

    This is such a great post! Very helpful.

    1. Melissa

      I’m so happy you find it useful! :)

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