Travelling with electronic gadgets can be a pain. Not only do you have to worry about them getting stolen, you have to make sure you can actually power and/or recharge them. Here’s a few handy items that will ease your electrical woes. Pack these in your bag you’ll be able to overcome most power problems when you’re away from home.
Power bar/Surge Protector/USB Charger
The folks at Belkin make a fantastic little device (the BZ103050-TVL) that does three different things – all brilliantly. It’s a power tap that allows you to plug three different devices into a standard wall plug. It has built-in surge-protection. And it can charge two USB devices (you’ll need the right cables) at the same time. It even rotates so that you can use it in tight spaces.
One great use for the power bar is in airports – where available power outlets are at a premium. With the Belkin device, you can share an outlet that is already in use. And, if you’re nice, you can offer up your spare outlets to other road warriors. It’s cheap too. I’ve seen it online for under $20.
In addition to the problems solved by the power bar, there are other electrical issues to deal with. For example: let’s say the $3 a night developing country hotel room that you’re staying in has no plugs and only a single light hanging from the ceiling. If you’re prepared, this isn’t a problem.
I should note that the following solutions apply to destinations with standard North American plugs and sockets. However, in many cases, your electronic devices can handle either 110v (ours) or 220v (Europe) power. A plug adapter may be all you need. But in some cases you may have to change the voltage, in which case you need a voltage converter. Check with the manufacturer of your gadget before doing any of this – otherwise you could fry your stuff.
That said, when I hit the road, I carry the following in a little mesh bag:
- A couple of grounding adapters (3-prong (grounded) to two prong adapters). With these you can plug any grounded device into an ungrounded outlet.
- A two-outlet light socket adapter. If there is just a single light in your room, you can screw this into the light socket and – voila! – you’ve got two power outlets. Plus the adapter has its own light socket – so you can screw in the bulb and keep the light shining. Of course, it may not be handy having your outlets on the ceiling. To get around this, you could carry a short extension cord. But I would recommend buying one only if you need one.
- A lightbulb socket plug. Essentially a light bulb socket with a standard plug on the bottom. This is useful if you don’t have enough light in your room. Buy a bulb and screw it into the socket and then plug it into any standard wall outlet. Make sure nothing flammable is close to the bulb.
Getting back to the different types of plugs and voltages: your device will tell you the range of voltages it works on. Check! Once you know that, you’ll have to find out if you need just a plug adapter or voltage converter. The website electricaloutlet.org is a good country-by-country guide to voltage and plugs around the world.