Cell phones, tablets, e-readers, laptop computers, camera batteries and even electric toothbrushes suck up electricity like first-class flyers suck down free booze.
I pride myself with the ability to travel fairly lightly but now I am faced with a spread of electronic must-haves that require a heaping serving of spaghetti-like cables, cords and corresponding chargers.
My 20-year-old power converter has started to rattle in its old age. Who knows what has broken inside after lugging this heavy box a gazillion miles around the world. While it hasn’t failed me, I don’t feel good about plugging anything into it anymore, especially not all these expensive gadgets.
The good news is that many electronics are built for the worldwide marketplace, meaning that they are marked with numbers that look similar to 100 – 240V. What those numbers are saying is that weary travelers no longer need to pack power converters. The devices will work in the U.S. were 110 power is the norm. But they can also be used in countries that use 220 or 240.
We still need adapters so our plugs fit their sockets but the bulky converters can be jettisoned…unless a hair dryer is a must have, then all bets are off. When my cousin and I traveled around Europe, she took out the power on a whole floor of a hotel in Lugano, Switzerland just by flicking on her hair dryer.
My quest for power has taken me all over the city. At first I bought a box of 5 adapters from Best Buy for $17.49 but there is only one for each country and with 7 things that might need to be recharged, this is not a practical solution.
A trip to Blackhawk Hardware, my local they-have-everything-store proves very fruitful. There I snag a USB charger that will charge up to 4 devices at a time AND it comes with plug adapters for foreign countries! I snap that up for $30. That will work great for the iPads and iPhones but we still have to be able to charge the camera batteries.
The toothbrushes should hold a charge for this short trip but just in case they don’t, it would be nice to have some way to recharge them. I can’t live without my Sonicare! My mouth just won’t feel clean without it.
I find a great solution to this problem, a Belkin Travel Mini Surge Protector. I track one down at Office Max for $25. Various versions of this and the other things I bought are a bit cheaper online. With some advance planning I might have saved a few bucks.
My surge protector has 3 outlets and a couple of USB ports. This is going to be great for any trip. Who hasn’t been frustrated by the lack of plugs in most hotel rooms?
Reviews say that the USB ports won’t allow 2 cables to be plugged in at the same time. That kind of sucks, but because I already have the USB charger, this doesn’t concern me. What does is that this little power strip has a 3-prong plug. Office Max has a cylindrical adapter that would work but they want $22 for it. I go two stores down to Best Buy and pick one up for $10.
In the end, I return the box of adapters and opt for the adapter that will accommodate a grounded plug for the power strip.
We are charged up and ready to go…as long as the power doesn’t go out on the island, which it’s been know to do. In that case, we will head to the closest bar and relax with a couple of pisco sours and commune with the Moai.