Ultimate Travel Tech: Staying Charged As You Travel

You spent all day exploring brave new worlds, but because you didn't charge your camera, smartphone or tablet before you left, you're not able to record any of your precious new memories. Don't ever let that happen to you. Here are the best travel gadgets for staying connected while abroad and our top tips for maximising power on the road.

The Gear


Mophie Duo Powerstation

Mophie make some amazing charging gear. From iPhone cases right through to laptop chargers. Out of all the products, though, the most versatile gadget is the Duo Powerstation. For $109.95 you get a 6000mAh battery pack with two USB charging points on it for you to charge everything from your smartphone and tablet right through to your camera gear.

The best thing is that it's light, cheap and versatile so you won't fill up your suitcase with unnecessary nonsense.


Belkin Universal Charger

The Belkin Universal AC/DC charger is a great way to keep your laptop charged while you travel without taking a bag full of adapters. Where you go is completely up to you and taking your laptop with you needn’t be a pain. The Belkin AC/DC travel charger is designed so you don’t have to worry about what sort of power you’re going to find overseas.

For $29.95, it supports a swathe of laptops so that you can take your pride and joy overseas without hassle.


Energiser XP18,000

If you're a serious power-burner, the Mophie Juice packs might not do it for you. Why not get something with three times the power? That's when you need the Energiser XP18,000. As the name suggest, the 18,000 has 18,000mAh of power — enough to keep damn near anything alive long enough to get something useful done.


International Universal Adaptors

If you're only going to the one place, you can always make do with the simplest of travel gadgets: the humble country adaptor. Head to your local suitcase or travel goods store to get all sorts of adaptors for less than $20.


Powerboard

Combine your country power adaptor with a good old-fashioned powerboard and you have a wealth of power at your disposal. Charge your laptop, phone, tablet and camera all from the comfort of your hotel room.


The Tips


Minimise Wi-Fi Usage

Yes, Wi-Fi connectivity is convenient, but it also drains your battery faster, especially if the signal is iffy. If you don't need to be actively connected, switch off the Wi-Fi. Modern OSes are generally intelligent about reducing screen brightness and processor load when you're not plugged in, but Wi-Fi connectivity is up to you.


Don't Charge From A Disconnected Computer

The ability to charge your phone and tablet and MP3 player and wireless hotspot from your computer's USB ports can be very useful — but don't do it when your computer isn't plugged in unless you absolutely have to. You'll lose power very quickly. The ideal travel routine is to plug every single gadget in when you go to sleep. Charging will be faster if you have dedicated chargers for each item, but overnight via your computer should still be plenty. Take advantage of iPod docks in the hotel alarm clocks if they are present, but don't forget to remove them in the morning!


Choose The Right Gadget Mix

Minimising the number of gadgets you have is always a worthy goal, but sometimes it makes sense to take an extra gadget to minimise power impact. Case in point: music players. A single-function device such as a classic iPod offers much longer battery life than the iPhone. Use that for your tunes and leave the phone for your apps and calls. A similar logic applies to the Kindle: its battery will still be humming along long after your tablet gives out. (Again, switch off Wi-Fi to really maximise that.)


Clean Your Notebook Battery

Battery life degrades over time, but you can help ensure maximum performance by occasionally cleaning your battery contacts. This isn't something you need to do every week; just occasionally. If your notebook allows you to swap batteries, carrying a spare is also a wise idea, especially on work-related trips.


Don't Be A Power Outlet Douchecanoe

In some locations (smaller airports, conference rooms, cafes) power outlets can be at a premium. If your toting the ever-helpful powerboard, offer up access points to others. If you're not (or if everyone else needs the local connection), don't be a douchecanoe and sit on the connection for hours. That's especially important in unexpected situations such as flight delays. You're not the only one with work to do and a rapidly dying phone.


What's your favourite power gadget for travel?


Comments

    My problem is that I have a Sony Tablet S, which can't be charged from a USB connection. So if I can't find a powerpoint, I'm stuck. This makes plane travel in particular a pain, because I can't get a portable power source that lets you plug a Sony charger into it.

    Weird choice from Sony not to introduce even a car charger for the Tablet S, though. You'd think they'd be taking advantage of the market for portable power and the unique connector they've got.

    Are there any problems flying with those big battery packs?

      Seems to be a lot of people using the Energizer on planes in the US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-content-search/results/ref=cm_srch_q_rtr/?query=plane&search-alias=community-reviews&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&idx.asin=B002K8M9HC

      SO IT'S YOU!!!!1!1!!!!11!!1!ONEONE!!

    Virgin Australia will plug even lowly economy passengers' gear in, in the back, and give you a number for your toys. They seem to have both Aussie and US power points.

    I'm going on an African overland tour later this year. No idea how i'll keep everything charged. They say there's an invertor on the bus. It'll probably just be one.

    I'm actually in the midst of planning a two-week solo trip to the US in July, so these travel-tech articles are well-timed.

    Silly question, but surely there will be issues with laptop/iDevice/smartphone voltage changes with that Belkin universal charger?

      Snap. We'll be in the US around that time too.

      The vast majority AC adaptors can step off the range of voltages used around the world (the States uses [email protected] just for reference). So there's little concern. If you're worried just check the item specs before buying.

      Bear in mind that most US outlets are the 3-pin type but not all. So take at least one 2-pin US-ANZ adaptor too. And then a powerboard to split to all your devices

      Last edited 27/02/13 5:58 pm

        High-five! First time visiting since I was four-year-old girl screaming on the teacup ride at Disneyland.

        Thanks for the tips - the powerboard one especially. I keep thinking that carting a powerboard around the world is a very strange thing to do, but apparently not.

        Enjoy the US!

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