Advice for the Power Hungry

Here’s a familiar scene. You’ve checked into your hotel and maybe it’s an expensive hotel, far more than you wanted to pay but it was the only choice so you were stuck, and you’re on your hands and knees with your head under the desk, desperately searching for another outlet.

Yes, the compleat digital traveler these days must be able to charge his or her iPod, iPhone, Kindle, multiple camera batteries, Audio Recorder, Laptop, video camera, curling iron…(hey, you think this beard looks so good without help?). And most hotels? While they may offer designer furniture, designer water, and designer pillows, most still give you one outlet under the desk, and one that never works (along with a non-functioning Ethernet port) built into the stylish base of the designer lamp on the desk.

The best and most customer friendly electrical setup I’ve ever encountered in an accommodation was not in a swanky hotel at all. It was at Chief’s Camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Admittedly, my room was just a tent, and they only had the  juice that they generated themselves, but tacked up on the wall right next to (and not under) the desk was a multi-outlet powerstrip that looked like this:

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Notice those weird plug receptacles? They look weird because they’re universal…they’ll take almost any plug type.  This is a 100-250V surge protector and I’ve been traveling with one just like it for years. Why? Well, except for the iPod, the Kindle, and curling iron, I have all that other stuff to charge and when you carry one of these you only need to find one outlet and you only need to carry one set of plug adapters (thankfully, almost all of our battery chargers today are voltage seeking, so voltage convertors are fast becoming a thing of the past—but always check before you plug anything into a foreign wall!).

But plugs still need to be adapted. The native plug on this baby is the European Schuko style. So make sure that any plug adapter set you get can accept the Schucko plug (it has a little thicker prongs than the regular European plug and is grounded).  The surge protection feature is nice when you’ve got your laptop plugged in and working, especially if you’re in a safari camp or anywhere where power surges and drops may be a problem.

If you’re moving from country to country, you have to carry a set of plug adapters, even if you go with the powerstrip arrangement above. Or you can go with one of the modular plug adapters like this one:

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It covers four of the world’s most popular plug types (not that weird one in India with the three giant round prongs).  Steve Frischling, who writes the informative blog Flying with Fish, scoped out another super duper universal plug adapter called the Go! Con W2 which looks like a Transformer robot. This appears to be quite an arrangement, but I’m not sure you wouldn’t have to spend more time figuring out how assemble and disassemble it than actually using it!

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Here are two great resources for researching, and purchasing, your plug and power needs for overseas travel: www.magellans.com and www.traveloasis.com

This entry was posted in Photo Gear, Travel.

One Comment

  1. Jerry Hanes April 3, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, I hope I need surge strip and one adapter soon (not fish’s transformer )

    Jerry

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