It’s pretty uncommon nowadays for anyone to pack for a trip and not include an electrical item of some description. Most of us have mobile phones and tablets, perhaps even an electronic eReader, laptop or game console. Others may take their travel plug-in devices such as curling tongs, iron or hairdryer. Either way, all of these items can share the same problem when it comes to using them. If you don’t travel with power, you may as well have left them at home.
You will already know the frustration of running out of juice just when you need it the most. You find that your curling tongs or travel iron are incompatible with the hotel plug sockets just as you are getting ready for your first night out. Or settling on your sunbed with a nice cool drink, laying back to listen to your favourite tunes when your MP3 player suddenly dies on you. Whatever your situation, make sure you travel with power to ensure that you always see that reassuring glowing power light on any electrical item you choose to use.
Power on the move- Finding the correct travel adapter
Visiting different countries can pose an issue if you haven’t looked up the socket type for a country. Trying to plug something into a socket without knowledge of the socket type can literally be like trying to put a round peg in a square hole.
Did you know there are actually 15 different plug and socket types worldwide? A lot of countries use common types that most people will be familiar with but if you’re not sure, you can check the country before you travel here at Wikipedia. It’s as simple as asking yourself “where am I plugging the adapter into” and “what am I plugging into that adapter”
From the following options, it’s worth considering if you can make do with just one adapter as available sockets can sometimes be a rarity in some accommodations.
One to one adapters
These are simple adapters that adapt from one country to another, eg U.S to U.K (type A to type G)
While these don’t give you the option to use in multiple countries, they tend to be solid and stay in the socket, unlike the bigger all-in-one units.
One to USB
If all your devices rely on charging via USB only, you can just take one of these, eg. U.S to USB which can have multiple USB ports on one adapter. Really useful for charging up to 4 devices at once from one socket.
All in one device
Some devices can provide the ability to adapt power for multiple countries in one unit. Some of these can be a bit bulky for the socket (especially if connected by only 2-pins). You may be a regular business traveler who finds themselves in many parts of the world. These devices can be invaluable as it saves having to worry about taking the correct adapter for that particular trip.
These normally incorporate USB sockets too. Some of these adapters come with interchangeable plugs too to cover most countries, although I tend to stick with type G as being quite small items, they can often get mislaid.
Important: Power adapters are not the same as power converters. Please check your mains device can cope with the local voltage before use.
Power on the move – Cables
Nowadays, chargers rarely have the charger/cable combined and sealed into one unit, so you have options of matching USB chargers with USB cables to suit your needs. This also gives you more flexibilty over charging multiple items with different plug types.
Length – As you never really know where the available socket is going to be when you arrive, it’s always a good idea to ensure that the cables you have are of a decent length, around 3 metres. You can also buy USB extenders instead to give extra length to your existing cables if required, but try not to go too long as this can affect charge times.
Plug Types – The most common plugs are the Micro USB, Mini USB & Lightning as these cover a majority of all mobile devices. Another is type-C; a lot of newer laptops are now using these.
Multi cables – You can now purchase cables that split into 2, 3 or more different plugs. These can be very handy for charging multiple devices if only 1 USB port is available. But there is a downside in that charging will be slower. But ok if you’re charging items overnight.
Choosing the right cables can make charging a lot easier, so think about how many items you have that need charging, what plug types do they require, how often do they need charging and how many can you charge at once. No correct cable, no power!
Power on the move – Charging on the go
Having a backup power source when you really need it is priceless. These are true power on the move items where you may require a reassuring power boost to your mobile or even a complete charge for your camera. These devices, often referred to as Power Banks are practically rechargeable batteries themselves and can be a lifesaver when you need them.
These devices are normally charged via USB themselves and supply the normal 5v output through 1 or more USB ports. Decent ones with multiple USB ports can be slightly bulky but the 1 port Power Banks are smaller and a lot more convenient to carry around. Of course, you have to ensure these are also charged before you go out and about, but they are extremely effective when called upon.
If you have a smartphone a Power Bank Case may be just for you. Taking Photos, Videos, looking up maps, facebook, etc. can drain a phone in no time. But if you pop your phone into one of these cases, you can get another 2 charges without having to find a plug socket. They add a little bit more weight but you’ll have a working phone all day.
You can now purchase cables that have an integrated power bank. These are great as they charge the device and the battery at the same time. Once the device is charged, you bring the cable with you for the power boost. And if you happen to come across a USB port, you have a cable for charging anyway. A great solution.
Power on the move – Combining Items
Bringing too many adapters, chargers and cables can become a bit messy so it’s worth considering how these can be incorporated into fewer devices as possible
If you only have 1 adapter plugged in, you can expand on this by plugging in a small power bar instead. This will then give you multiple sockets for your devices. Some of them even include USB sockets for your smaller devices. A great all-round solution for travellers with a lot of items.
Travel with power – Conclusion
Electronic devices can be so important to a trip. The thought of not being able to use one rarely crops up until it’s too late. Before you pack anything, ensure that all your items are fully charged including any powerbank chargers you are taking. If you are flying, it’s also worth thinking about your hand luggage and what you may need for the plane. There’s no point in having a backup charger if you can’t get at it because it’s in your suitcase. Check the power socket type so you know that you can plug your devices in when you arrive.
Some of this may seem obvious but this happened so much in a previous company. So many associates on business trips found themselves wasting time shopping around for items locally because they didn’t think ahead. Always having power on the move ensures that the items you take with you are not wasted.