Power Strip Travel Tip

My number one travel tip after:

-Do whatever it takes to get carrier status (thereby allowing airlines to treat you like an actual human being).

Is to always travel with a power strip (above, far left). I know it sounds pretty stupid, but the photo above is just some of the stuff I need to plug in when I get to a hotel. So if you don’t have a power strip you have to plug-in stuff all around the room (if you are lucky enough to have a room with more than one outlet). This can lead to leaving things behind when you checkout.

With a power strip, everything is all together in one place so you generally don’t leave anything behind. Power strips also come in handy when you are at the airport and all of the outlets are taken by cranky passagengers. Just politely ask if the current plug squatter minds if you deploy your power strip and everyone will be happy and fully charged. Finally, having a power strip means that you only need to carry one power adapter if traveling internationally. Because if you travel with a phone, computer, camera, DSLR, iPad and iPod the last thing you need is more crap to tote around. [Monster Travel Power Strip $14]

Update below: Here’s how I do this in Japan with a power strip bought at Muji in Tokyo. Eric this may be even better for you, knowing how much time you spend in Japan.

Comments on “Power Strip Travel Tip

    Phil B on May 3, 2011 1:26 PM:

    Brill! Thanks for the tip.

    Derek on May 3, 2011 1:33 PM:

    Another tip to cut back on the bulk is that power output via USB according to the USB standard is 5V at about 0.5 amps (thus almost every small electronic device will now run at about 2.5 Watts). In the picture, your black micro USB charger could just be replaced for a micro USB cord, sharing iPod plug adapter. This is not an exact science; it is just a trick I learned interning as a computer engineer. The only note of caution is that just because your cable to your cell phone is shaped like a USB cable does not mean it meets the USB standard; however, I think most cable are engineered to be idiot proof (at least I hope so for my sake) and standard USB expectations will still work.

    Robert on May 3, 2011 1:41 PM:

    I’m sorry, I got distracted: “carrier status”?

    Mango on May 3, 2011 2:13 PM:

    Thanks. This is useful. Thank you.

    The Trad on May 3, 2011 2:14 PM:

    Are you complaining? I mean, let me get this straight. Your ass is in Italy and you’re whining about chargers and power strips? When you get back to NY I’m gonna give you a wake up call.

    Michael Williams on May 3, 2011 2:32 PM:

    I’m not complaining. I am also not coming back.

    The Trad on May 3, 2011 2:50 PM:

    You’re smarter than I thought.

    Mitchell on May 3, 2011 3:02 PM:

    Thanks for the tip. But, how does one who does not work in the business sector, therefore unable to accrue miles as a fringe benefits, get carrier status? Airline credit card?

    Luke F on May 3, 2011 3:10 PM:

    Maybe a dumb question… but what is ‘carrier status’?

    Kelvin on May 3, 2011 4:34 PM:

    What international power adapter are you using? The one on the upper left.

    Andrew on May 3, 2011 5:16 PM:

    Michael: love your exchange with “The Trad”… and I want to move to Europe so badly!

    pjharv on May 3, 2011 6:31 PM:

    dude, really? by adding a power strip domestically, you’re just adding yet another electronic thingy to your travels. the better advice would be to tell folks, when you’re traveling/vacationing unplug yourself and leave the electronic crap at home. somehow i think you’ll survive if you can’t check a fashion blog for two days. if not, all the better.

    Cisco on May 3, 2011 9:49 PM:

    Cheaper version of the same strip you linked to: http://www.amazon.com/Outlets-Go-Power-Strip-USB/dp/B0018MEBNG/ref=pd_sxp_f_i

    That is a nice strip though, it also supports USB. So you don’t need the USB->power outlet adapter for your iPhone anymore.

    WIsco on May 3, 2011 10:49 PM:

    “Carrier Status” is achieving enough flight miles to be “gold”, “elite” or some other designation that you are a frequent flier. You typically have to fly 10,000 – 20,000 miles a year or more on a single airline to get “elite status”. Most airlines have levels of elite, but even the lowest tier usually gets you early boarding, which allows you ample time and space to grab overhead bin space before the “everyman” comes on board. Most airlines do not award elite status qualifying miles from a credit card or other partner benefit, though those miles are applicable for mileage award tickets. I’m no expert, but currently enjoy elite status on more than one airline.

    Michael Williams on May 4, 2011 2:20 AM:

    Yes, dude, really. I own my own business, there is no way I can travel and unplug. Sorry. I am just happy to be able to travel and work at the same time. I think if you would have taken a moment to reflect on the possibility that there is other types of travel than vacation travel, you would submitted a comment less shortsided. Though, maybe not.

    Also, there is this thing called “business travel.” That is when people leave their home/office for another destination for their job. Not as easy to unplug for that one.

    People, please think before you comment.

    Sam on May 4, 2011 8:59 AM:

    Micheal – very clever idea. I will be putting this into practice. Thank you.

    Lia McNairy on May 4, 2011 9:03 AM:

    haha, great post, that’s exactly what Mark does, plug around the room cursing up a storm and knocking down crap!

    Sam on May 4, 2011 10:22 AM:

    Sorry for misspelling Michael.

    HolThaDo on May 4, 2011 12:42 PM:

    That thing is huge. I’ve always taken a cube tap. Does the same thing but smaller and cheaper. No cords.

    pjharv on May 4, 2011 1:01 PM:

    dude, for real, the article states “travel”. it does not state business travel. i would like to see an article comparing/contrasting the various types of travel, their purpose, and how to pack (what to take) for each. if for business, yes, power stip all the way. if for vacation travel, depending on length of time, it may want to leave your third wi-fi device at home. from the photo above, it looks like you’re traveling with an iphone, macbook, a motorola, a blackberry (mini usb?), and two canon camera’s. i applaud your choice of equipment, but what about the art of traveling light?

    Sangsouvanh Khounvichit on May 4, 2011 1:35 PM:

    This Monster Travel Strip is essential for my traveling as well. Great write up!

    jiheison on May 4, 2011 5:44 PM:


    For me, good packing for travel follows the advice of Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

    But the power strip is a reasonable tip for people who have to travel with a bunch of gizmos, for work or whatever other reason they might have. No?

    eric on May 4, 2011 6:15 PM:

    Wow, such a simple yet brilliant tip. Can’t believe I never thought of it!

    To the idiot that thinks you should travel light… I lost a $15,000 gig because I was idealistic and I did not check my email for a few days while traveling in Asia.

    You can bet your ass I now fly with an array of smart-phone, laptop, adapters, plugs, cables, gizmos, what-nots etc.

    Kyle on May 4, 2011 6:35 PM:

    At first I thought this was like a Power Strip EDC. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

    jbjones on May 4, 2011 7:50 PM:

    i think i will secure one of these for the missus as she does most of the business travel. me, i drinks it.

    i almost forgot to mention, there is this thing called “business travel”

    Kevin on May 4, 2011 8:15 PM:

    This is a good tip. I would echo an earlier comment that you may be able to charge your iPad and other USB powered devices directly from your laptop. Plug the laptop in overnight with the other devices attached and you should wake up fully charged. Though if you’re on a MacBook air, your plan is definitely better.

    Scott G on May 4, 2011 9:24 PM:

    Great suggestions. I used the same strategy when we spent a fortnight in Italy last year. I do have another suggestion – also throw a small DC to AC inverter in your bag. These are now $20 (or less) and allow you to use either the airline seat power (except for those wanker airlines who use the proprietary Empower (looking at you, Delta)) and top off your devices in rental cars without having to take DC cables for your devices.

    The Monster Outlets to Go are great – the new ones even have USB outlets so that you can do as the other reader suggests and travel with smaller USB extension cables.

    Tim on May 4, 2011 9:36 PM:

    oh technology. how you are destroying our lives in an amazing way.

    Ramalhoni on May 5, 2011 8:05 AM:

    That’s actually a pretty good idea! I’ve never seen it in an european model ! do you know if it exists?

    Snappylifestyle on May 5, 2011 8:36 AM:

    Lol so true so true.

    pjharv on May 5, 2011 11:51 AM:

    to eric, you lost your $15k gig because you were irresponsible, not idealistic. you should have been more resourceful and looked after your affairs. even if you chose to leave your electronic equipment behind, there are bountiful other ways of checking email, especially in asia, and especially when there’s $15k at stake. i would have called your trip “business travel”, in which case it is justifiable to be fully plugged in.

    ok folks, it’s thursday now, and i’m flying to another city/state until sunday. i will take my own advice and travel with my iphone only. no other camera, computer, etc. on top of that, i will NOT take my charger. i will control my usage, but still take photos, call, do what’s needed to get through a 4 day vacation. i will report back on monday if it’s sucessful, or if i came to eat my own advice.

    Duncan on May 5, 2011 1:50 PM:

    I’m with pjharv & Michael on this one.

    I can fully understand folks such as Micheal that require them to pack along all that stuff for their business trips. I’ll also add that I don’t envy people that have to tote so much stuff around. Might we call this the diminishing returns of technology? Just a thought.

    For myself, every time I travel, I go “footloose & fancy free”. The less stuff to worry about, the better. I never check luggage & only take one camera. No iPods, cell phones (…i bought a used Nokia when I was in Australia & went pre-pay w/the minutes & it worked fine…), no video cameras, etc. no laptops.

    Marco on May 5, 2011 3:01 PM:

    Good tip. But you mentioned having to use multiple power adapters for overseas travel unless you use the power strip. Almost all of the chargers you have pictured are dual voltage. They just require a plug adapter, not a power adapter. I figured this out on an extended trip overseas a couple of years ago – the chargers for my iphone, ipad, macbook pro, garmin gps, panasonic & leica cameras and wife’s blackberry all can be plugged directly into 220v country’s outlets with the the use of just a plug adapter. I no longer have to carry a large and heavy power adapter now, just a couple of small plug adapters (Apple makes one that swaps out and goes directly on the macbook charger as well). Combined with the early tip of using the same one charger for the ipad, iphone, blackberry & gps, greatly reduces the amount of charging crap I have to take with me now.

    Michael Williams on May 5, 2011 6:19 PM:

    Plug adapters are annoying. One power adapter and a power strip and you are good to go. It is hard enough to remember to bring all of the chargers, let alone the right plug adapters.

    Michael Williams on May 5, 2011 6:23 PM:

    Just travelling with a DSLR is a pain in the ass. So you might as well bring the whole fucking house. Why own multiple thousand dollar lenses if you aren’t going to use them. The above tip is more centered on making it easy to plug in and refuel than travelling light. I’m a man, I can carry a bag and lift a suitcase, no big deal.

    Mike S on May 6, 2011 8:30 AM:

    This Belkin one is also a surge protector and has a few USB ports:

    Daniel on May 7, 2011 11:12 PM:

    The Belkin surge protector is good only if you stay in the US. It design to only use only 120 volts. It become a dead weight if you take it over seas without a converter. Unless you want to cause a power outage in the place you are saying is intent.

    pjharv on May 10, 2011 12:18 PM:

    jiheison – great quote, and i agree, always striving to pack light and carry only the essentials. unlike the mrs. with her huge cumbersome rolling samsonite.

    Duncan – i agree with your motto of “F&FF”. i always do carry-on, and i’m still working hard on getting my mrs. to do the same.

    well, my trip was a success. it was very liberating to not have to fumble around with all the cords, electronic gizmos, laptops, etc. i got to focus on the trip, and not the management of my toys. i vacationed (not business travel) for 4 days with nothing more than a my cellphone (no charger) and a standard backpack holding enough clothing options for all the occasions of the trip. i planned ahead, printed my flight info, didn’t make unnecessary calls to friends back home bragging about my trip, i still surfed the web, followed some news, checked the all important blogs, etc. day one, battery dropped to 70%. day 2 it went to 45%, day three it dropped to 10%. it took just the most basic and elementary efforts of resoursefulness to ask our host if i could plug into their phonecharger for a while. this got me through day 4, the flight, the drive home, etc…. totally managable. i took video’s, photo’s, etc…. totally unnecessary to have any more, and wouldn’t really have wanted to do with any less.

    to all of you with your dslr’s and multiple lenses – you guys are tools. you are not artists and have no need for all that gear. i have a 35mm slr, and it stays home expect for when i’m on assignment for special event photography. unless you are traveling for assignment, leave that bulky gear at home – you aren’t impressing anyone other than yourself. travel with your little point and shoot, it supercedes your needs.

    Marielle on May 10, 2011 6:26 PM:

    I travel a lot. A lot. The “carrier” status is .. eh. I mean it’s good bcs they won’t bump you (ever) and they’ll upgrade you, but I can fly standing up — and have. I certainly do not care about getting on first. I like to be the last person on and by 10 minutes.

    Here’s the best tip I have. You have to change your credit card periodically for the best deals and these days I like the American Express Platinum card bcs it doesn’t charge for foreign transactions and it gives you access to most airport “clubs”. Those clubs have gotten way more mediocre in the past few years, but man, as much as I don’t mind sitting in economy, I hate wandering around an airport looking for a place to work for an hour.

    Michael Williams on May 10, 2011 6:35 PM:

    Marielle — good tip. I totally agree with you about wandering around airports and accordingly just pay straight up for my airport club membership. I find that easier and more rewarding than paying Amex’s comparable annual fee (especially after the way Amex treated me in 2009). One other important aspect of carrier status (to me) is the ability to get better seats in economy. This doesn’t matter much from LGA-ORD, but sure as hell makes a difference from EWR-NRT.

    Simon on May 11, 2011 9:46 AM:

    Hi Michael. Excellent idea and a reasonable price too. I’ll be getting one sometime soon. Keep up the good work.

    Michael on May 12, 2011 12:40 PM:

    After years of leaving chargers stuck in hotel outlets (or losing them in my own suitcases), my wife bought me one of these: http://www.greatusefulstuff.com/2-sided-cord-pouch-p/ofc01125gykrsd.htm

    Works well. If only they’d make it in a broken-twill selvedge.

    Marielle on May 13, 2011 3:33 PM:

    For flights to NRT, or any major airport in Asia, I’m pretty loyal to Asiana. They’re terrific. Remind me of the late, great Cathay Pacific (who aren’t late, i know, but they feel late). Singapore Airlines is good too. I usually take whatever flight is cheapest and easiest, but I do go out of my way to book Asiana. Order the Korean meal. Good!

    I’ve never had an issue with AmEx. Their fees are hefty but I find they pick up a lot of unexpected stuff. I recently had a pretty big cargo charge and the card covered it completely. Who knew?

    Betty on May 14, 2011 6:44 PM:

    Well, that cord carrier pouch (at useful stuff site) with slots for each cord would certainly alert you to wether or not you are leaving a cord behind. Empty slot = missing cord. Cool. Betty

    Sydney Photographer on May 17, 2011 11:02 AM:

    I’m a Australian photographer and travel with a whole pile of cables and chargers etc. I’ve been carrying around a power board for ages… I even have a couple that I have rewired with a local plugs for when I am heading to a single destination ie USA and UK. For multiple destinations I pair with a Tumi travel adaptor. I pleased I’m not the only one!

    Robert on May 19, 2011 3:25 AM:

    Thanks for the tip, Michael. Second trip using the Monster power strip and I can’t believe I ever travelled without it. I travel about 140,000 miles every year for business so this thing is a no-brainer for those of us who travel for work and need to bring the gadgets and tools.

    Speaking of tools, @pjharv – what works for you may not work for others. While you may be proud of yourself for not taking a phone charger on a weekend trip, I have slightly loftier goals in life.

    TC on May 23, 2011 6:00 PM:

    A while ago I found a small, fully universal power strip in a Hong Kong market that has traveled around the world with me. I just did a quick search and found some here, not quite the same but getting there: http://www.voltage-converter-transformers.com/universal-power-strip.html

    I can’t find exactly what I was looking for, but I’ve found it extremely useful if you’ve had to do hotel living & hopping across a few countries for any duration of time.

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