Finding the Right Way to Power Your Devices on the Road

Brian Welsh
Nov 16, 2010
Updated • Dec 5, 2012
Mobile Computing

One of the difficulties of travel in the modern world is that not all countries operate on the same type of electricity. You don't want to have to buy a new charger, laptop, or phone every time you go to another country. That would simply be ridiculous. Instead, you probably realize that all you need to do is to buy a portable power adapter to take with you, but a quick search of the internet will reveal that there are a vast assortment of travel power solutions available. Which is the right one for you?

From using a new power cord to buying a plug adapter kit, there are a lot of choices. In fact, each day there are more choices to choose from as manufacturers are realizing that our world is increasingly wired and dependent on electricity to power our portable electronic gadgets. You can power with a cord, an adapter, a surge protector, or even solar panels, but the question remains, which one will work the best for your situation. Only you can know for sure. Of course, the more knowledge you have, the better the decision you can make.

Finding the right portable travel adapter can be a massive challenge. A smart solution will be something that will allow you to bring power to all of your personal electronic devices and at the same time provide you with the functionality and adaptability to prevent problems from happening with changes in voltage or current. The essential electronics you carry with you when you travel have a variety of needs and it's important to realize that not all plug adapters are a one stop solution to your problems. When you are looking to power your important personal electronics be sure that you pay attention! These may be toys, but in fact, for most people, the electronics they travel with are much more than fun gadgets, they are essential to their work and to enjoying their time while away from home.

This article should provide you with a solid starting point in terms of how to maintain the quality of lifestyle you desire without leaving your electronic devices at home. While there are many different sources which offer you a 'one stop shopping' selection, you should be careful of anything that sounds perfect since in the world of electronics (as everywhere else) if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The clever traveler wants to know all the options before they begin the process of making the sales decision. Power plug adapters are a great place to start. For most casual travelers, these simple devices will be ideal. Those who are planning to be in more than one electronics area, should consider a power adapter kit since they often deliver protection from power surges, power spikes, and allow you to change the tips depending on what country you happen to be traveling in. The huge benefit here is that you can avoid power problems such as damaging your important and delicate electronics or ruining your favorite gadget with an unexpected third world power surge.

Universal adapter kits are a great idea but be certain that they provide you with surge protection because the delicate motherboards and circuitry of today's devices can be completely destroyed with one powerful surge of electricity. If that happens you can say goodbye to all of your data!

Power fluctuations are common in Eastern Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. In fact, they happen in Western Europe and North America too but not on such a regular basis. The latest generation of power converters will not only protect you from surges but also automatically detect and adapt to the 110V or 220V settings.

Since the plugs in all countries are not the same, it's important to make sure you have the UK, Europe, Italy, and North America tip kits. Different countries have different plugs and different voltages. Be sure to do your homework before you plug into a strange plug. Protect yourself! If you don't have the right tip, you will not be able to plug in!

Another adapter that many travelers find handy is a USB plug in. This allows you to charge or power your device through the USB port of any computer. While this won't work for all electronics, it certainly provides a decent solution for those who want to power their smartphone, MP3 player, PDA, or other ultra portable devices.

One of the latest additions to the market of charging your electronics on the go is the solar panel or the portable solar charger. Because of recent advances in the technology which produces solar cells, they can now be made flexible and this means that solar panels can be installed on every day travel items such as backpacks or rolled up into easy to carry bundles. While the idea of carrying your own power source might sound absurd to many people, in fact, it is a practical and easy solution. Since most portable items these days work on batteries and simply need to be charged, you can use the solar cells to charge your devices from just about anywhere! And in this case, you can buy the solar charger with a plug that is designed for your personal device, voltage, and current.

If you think you will have to be going to very sunny places to use the solar charger, think again. The solar chargers actually work on light, not only sunlight, so if you are going into a place where there is no light, you are out of luck (sorry spelunkers!) but if there is light whether it is natural or artificial, you can use the portable solar cells to power and charge your devices.

So, as you can see, the options are ever increasing in terms of ways in which you can power your portable devices. The most important thing is that you don't need to worry about whether you can power your device in a foreign country. Of course you can!


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