duty free – delight or disaster?

Seeing as this seems to be the month where I talk about travelling, I thought I might as well round things up by talking about the bookish holy grail (or hellhole, depending on your point of view) of travelling.



apologies about snapchat pic

Now. I am an enormous duty free fan. Whilst I rarely purchase anything, I happily fritter away my time smelling perfumes I can’t afford, trying on lipsticks that cost more than my life, and browsing through liquors that I could only buy in my dreams. To me, this is when a holiday truly begins.

But what about the inevitable duty free bookstore? Here’s my breakdown of this conflict-inducing conundrum:


  • It is a known fact that airport bookshops have the best selection of beach/holiday reads known to mankind. It is the holy grail of Sophie Kinsella books and celebrity biographies, with a scattering of classics which you should’ve got around to by now, and purchase out of sheer guilt.
  • The trade paperback is the second holy item of the airport bookshop. Often sold as international copies, they are the size of a hardback, without being so damn heavy. Cheaper than a hardback, and with higher page quality than a mass market paperback (I know I’m not the only one who thinks about these things). I am a big fan.
  • This might just be Gatwick, but in my experience airport bookshops will take pretty much any major currency. Got some spare euros or dollars floating around? TO THE DUTY FREE BOOKSHOP I GO.


  • You cannot afford to be picky. I sometimes purposely don’t read a bestseller so I have something to buy in duty free. This was helpful when ‘The Goldfinch’ was a huge seller, as I could really get stuck into it over my flights. Less so when ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and its ilk were real sell-outs.
  • Everyone and their dog will be there with you, I suppose because it’ll probably also have snacks and magazines. Take a big bag with you so you can elbow your way to the books, and the cashier, is my recommendation.

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