Technology doodads, gadgets, and ideas for the long term traveler

Traveling with Technology is both the reason and the bane of existence on the road. You have to track all the cables and plugs and adapters and while I really like my 12 inch MacBook the charger is something else. Whoever dreamed up the bricks of chargers for Mac laptops… There are replacements for power over USB that are smaller and I’ve been tempted to get one simply because the weight and size of the original and limited space for techno goodies when I move from place to place. For the slow traveler like me, I think we have different core needs than the person in a place for 3 days and then another place for a week, etc. What we need is more of a balance for charging things.

What I have found that works the best is this thing.

The nice things about the Mastech charger pictured above are a few. One thing is there is an AC adapter on each side plus three usb charging ports in front. This thing lies flat on a desk and the size is rather nice. The other thing particularly for the apple charger is that it plugs in and sits flat on the desk or table as well and I have room for my camera charger on the other side.

This is a type of device really made for the slower travelers I think. The longer power cable is common sense because how many of you have been in a room where the electrical power outlet is here and your desk or bed is there. You need something with a longer cable. This has worked for me about 90% of the time very well. Where it has not worked is where the budget hotels I spend time seem to think we all travel with 10 foot long extension cables. The other thing about working or not, is that this is not power transformer type thing. It will not adjust the power down. Hopefully by now you have all read the power requirements for gadgets and doodads and have it covered.

The second thing is an international plug adapter. I’ve tried the wall wart kind with 1000 usb plugs and one ac adapter that makes the plug fall out of the socket every time. Useless folks. My advice is do not buy one of those especially if going for a longer stay. Not that I have found the best but this one seems to work pretty well in Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

It kinda plugs into itself and I have not found a place (yet) where it won’t work. But places like India I have my doubts so its probably gonna be time when I get there to have a friend take me down to the electronics zone street in Chennai so I can get something. I don’t know about China either. But if I could not find a plug in China, I would probably give the whole thing up.

Combining things for long stays…

So these are the two things in my bag of tricks that just work. The other thing you should consider is a portable charger. I have one that has meant the difference for me on buses and trains more than once. Mine is very small and portable and fits into a pocket on my daypack. Truly a life saver at times!

When you combine all things above into your backpack or daypack, you are looking for things that add value and not weight. Things that can be used for a multitude of uses. Count how many devices you want to charge at the same time. Do you have the requisite cables either Type C or lightning or microUSB? I never charge my camera from USB because its stupid especially in countries that may have some questionable power to start with. Take the battery out and charge it separately. It will go faster! Other things you may want to charge at the same time are phones, kindles, laptops, etc. Count them and see where you are.

Bringing the kit together and leaving

Then its packing the kit up. I have a cheap little zipper pouch that carries it all for me. You may have something more elegant or refined. My bag costs about $7 on amazon and you can find similar bags or pouches in the Russian Market in Phnom Penh. Just consider the footprint of the kit and what you will end up carrying. Do you need a laptop and a tablet and a phone? Maybe. I would not mind having a tablet as well. But perhaps you don’t or you need more stuff. Whatever you decide will have an accompanying weight and cost.

If you are good with that weight and cost go for it! Be happy on the road. Forget the minimalism stuff folks. Its just telling you to get rid of stuff but you already knew that if you are a realist. But most of all be happy with your choices. If it adds a few ounces to weight and you are good, no one is gonna pronouns a sentence on you. For the longer term traveler perhaps the devices make even more sense. Consider staying for a month in a place or three months. What is your expectation for comfort and use and technology?

Maybe not mine at all. And that’s good. This post is just about getting you to thinking about how you do a thing. My examples are just that. Now go out and get traveling. Just do it slowly and savor each place for what it is.