Many travelers don’t put a lot of thought into the topic of travel electronics and tech gear but there are some important things to consider so over-or under-thinking can be avoided. These tips are proven stress savers and have recently been streamlined even more for those who hope to travel with only one piece of luggage.
Voltage is the first concern. Almost everywhere else in the world besides North America makes appliances and devices which run on 220-240 volts AC or “Alternating Current”. The US and our neighbors (and, randomly, Japan) run on 110-125 volts AC. So, you might ask, is a CONVERTER necessary? First of all, note that a Converter should not be confused with an Adaptor which is used to fit plugs from our home country into sockets in the destination we are traveling in (discussed more later). The answer is yes IF you are traveling with simple heating, single voltage devices like hair dryers, shavers, steamers, or small fans. Note that most of these devices can be purchased with dual voltage these days, just as tablets and laptops switched over to dual voltage ten years or more ago. If your device is not labeled that it operates on both currents, you will need a Converter. The Converters we recommend have long cords (at least 5 feet, but 6 feet is best, because most international hotel rooms have limited outlets and they are inevitably on the other side of the room from where you need them to be). They also have several USB plug-ins in addition to two plug-ins for your appliance. These can be bulky, but if you are not wanting to buy new appliances, they can serve as a dual-purpose item because they work as a plug-in hub for all of your devices and security that these items will not cause the entire floor of your hotel to lose power.
Note that some items need even more juice, like coffee makers and some CPAP machines that have chips or circuits, will need a Transformer, however, again, dual voltage is available. For more information on traveling with a CPAP, click here.
The next consideration is what kind of Adaptor you will need. We will use the example of travel to Thailand and Cambodia here and if you are booked on a Get Out There Tours+Travel Trip, you will be given specific Fact Sheets. Thailand and Cambodia have different outlet styles from each other so you will need different Adaptors for each of these countries if you are traveling to both on one trip.
North American travelers can get by in Thailand without one, however since Thailand has three types of outlets (sometimes in one room), it is best to carry an Adaptor that adjusts to at least one of their different outlet types. Instead of purchasing a bulky and heavy box-style Adaptor, I like individual ones that come as a set (pick and choose which ones you will need and bring only those, not the whole set). This way it is less likely to fall out of the outlet because of how big it is. Also, the box style sometimes do not fit flush to the wall if the outlet has an indentation. You can always pick these up abroad, but be careful that they are grounded.
The next item will make your life a lot easier (and one per room is sufficient) and that is a Power Strip. For the same reasons that your Converter unit should have a long cord, so should your Power Strip. You want to be able to charge your devices while sleeping but still have access to your phone or tablet to read or text family and friends back home before going to sleep and if the outlet is on the other side of the room, this won’t be convenient. I also suggest NOT using outlets that our built into lamps or nightstands as they can be manipulated. A good Power Strip is small and packs up easily and has two three pronged sockets and several USB plug-ins. I like this 65W one because it can charge a laptop too.
The ability to Quick Charge your devices is also important. Avoid bringing your bulky Mac charger or those inefficient little box chargers that will charge VERY SLOWLY with developing country electricity. You want your devices to be charged when you wake up! Opt for a mini GaN Wall Charger like this 66W one. You can plug it directly into the Power Strip or Converter and it comes with a USB A for those older devices.
Don’t forget to bring the cables and cords you will need. I suggest laying out all of your electronics including cameras, phone, tablet or eReader, laptop, etc and making sure your cords work from all devices to all plugs (make sure your power bank has a Micro USB if you have a device that takes a Micro USB). A lot of travelers use those all-in-one power cords but don’t try them out first and find one or more of the plugs don’t function when it’s too late (this happened to me several times). These are great cords, but get one that is highly reviewed and connect it from home first.
I like this one with 20,000 mAh for the price. I have several sizes of this brand and they are awesome. You might not need one if you pick up the MagSafe Charger suggested below.
Some things you might not think of. A Three Prong to Two Prong Plug Adaptor might come in handy; a MagSafe corded/cordless Charger that can also charge your iWatch; AirFly Airpods Bluetooth so you can use your Airpods on the plane; and a Headphone Headset Adaptor so your one prong headphone plug will fit in a two/three outlet on the plane (a two pronged plug can work in a three prong outlet).
Final notes on the topic. Try to choose at least 65 Watt devices for chargers and Power Strips; even if you aren’t charging a laptop, you will be able to charge multiple devices at the same time. As for Power Banks, a minimum of 10,000 MaH will get you by for a day of excursions. I think one per traveler is needed, but I don’t put my phone in airplane mode during the day as some do. I take pictures all day, communicate via text and Whatsapp, and often use WiFi to explore and post on Social Media. Not your thing? Then maybe you can get by with less, but the 10,000s aren’t that pricey these days. Also, you never know when the power will go out and you need its leftover juice to charge your phone back at your hotel.
Check out our What To Pack and Travel Essentials Tabs on our Website and the past blogs on this related topics: Top Ten Gadgets and Gear: 2023, Staying Charged Up in the Land of Smiles, and Top Ten Gear & Gadgets for Southeast Asia.