Regular readers of this blog will probably have noticed that I don’t write much about essential travel gear. That’s because the only thing you really need in order to travel with kids is kids. With one exception, and that’s book lights.
Book lights mean separate bed times for adults and kids, even in the tiniest of hotel rooms. I would never leave so much as my driveway without one. I’ve literally owned dozens of them over the years, and feel qualified to weigh in on the pros and cons of the various designs.
Here are six of the best lights on the market, in no particular order:
1. LightWedge Original Book Light, $29.99
A page-sized acrylic lens that lays flat on your book’s page. Not the most lightweight option, but who cares if you’re checking bags? Also comes in a smaller size for paperbacks. Our number one choice.
Pros: Light is evenly distributed. Doesn’t blind the person sleeping next to you.
Cons: A little awkward to move each time you turn the page. If you fall asleep and drop this sucker on your face, you’ll know it.
A convenient book light with a built-in bookmark. Light turns on when you extend the periscope arm, and turns off when you stow it away.
Pros: Comfortable to hold. Periscope-style light arm swivels and can be positioned to fully illuminate either page. Conceals book cover in case you are reading something steamy.
Cons: Fits one size book. Books come in three sizes.
3. HUGlight Flexible Hands Free Book Light, $14.95
Despite looking like something you would encounter in a routine colonoscopy, the HUGlight works very well. I have to be honest though, I hide it before my cleaning lady comes—it just seems obscene.
Pros: Nothing to drop. Good quality of light. Very packable and reliable.
Cons: You can feel it under your neck if you slump down when you read or use a very firm pillow.
4. Petzl Tikka 3-LED Headlamp, $40.25
No one looks cool wearing these things, but they are the ultimate, hands-free reading (and everything else) light. Be careful not to blind your spouse if you glance their way though.
Pros: Shines light wherever you look. Completely and totally awesome for camping and taking out the garbage at night too.
Cons: Not very good for your sex life.
5. Zelco 11214 “itty bitty” Slim LED Booklight, $32.99
A lightweight and packable light with a fully retractable gooseneck design. Doesn’t quite light up the pages as brightly as the options above, but is tiny and good for travel.
Pros: Very portable. Fits any size book.
Cons: Could be just a little brighter.
6. Beam N Read ® LED 3, $19.99
An ingeniously designed, very bright hands free light on an adjustable neck strap that lets you read materials that don’t work with clip-on lights, such as newspapers and magazines. Particularly useful for reading sitting up in an airplane seat, but also works (with some fiddling) while lying down next to a sleeping child in bed.
Pros: Small and durable. Inexpensive. Batteries included. LED bulbs last forever.
Cons: Included attachable red light filter (which makes stark white book pages much less blinding) must be firmly snapped on or it will fall off every time you adjust the light.