I travel for work with some combination of laptop, video camera, phone, tablet, audio recorder. For all their improvements, one thing that remains true when traveling with electronics is that they need power, whether constantly or occasionally in the form of a battery charge. Hotels or hostels (or, for that matter, a guest room at your cousin’s house or AirB&B host) don’t always have handy outlets for you to hook up a computer, a phone, a tablet, and a camera battery charger. Combining functions (for instance, using a smart phone as camera, computer and book reader) is admirable, good, and increasingly practical — but doesn’t work in every context for every person.
That’s why I used to often travel with a regular household multi-tap outlet, and then a cute wrap-around miniature one, which I thought and think is a great invention. However, I’ve recently upgraded — some would say down- or side-graded — to a smaller, lighter, cheaper multi-tap. It costs $8 (with free add-on-item shipping from Amazon), and weighs 90g vs. 165g for the four-outlet one it supplants for one-bag travel. Orange may be ugly, but it’s harder to forget. And with a multi-tap, no matter what kind, you can be a minor hero at a crowded airport by letting a few others charge up *their* laptops or phones when the too-few AC outlets are full: I’ve never been turned down when asking politely to share the wall, nor turned down someone who wants to use one of the outlets.
At coffee shops and other places with long-abused outlets, too, I find the sturdy 3-prong connection gives me a connection less likely to slip out of the wall. I also bring along a 3-to-2 prong “cheater,” for the increasingly rare times that only 2-prongs are available. With that, and a spare AC USB charger attached, I can avoid most minor charging hassles.
Two small caveats: 1) This doesn’t get you much *away* from the wall, so there’s only one spot for a fat wall wart; 2) compared to my wrap-around one, I now have 3 outlets rather than 4, but I find I can live with this just fine.
— Timothy Lord
3-Outlet Heavy-Duty Grounding Adapter
Available from Amazon