5 Low-Cost Power Accessories for Travelers

Super-Useful, and All Under $40

Keeping your devices charged is hard enough during a normal day at the office, and things get worse when you travel. Many countries use different kinds of power sockets to what you're used to, hotel rooms never have enough of them, and you spend much longer away from them in any case.

Fortunately, you don't have to spend a fortune to keep the problem at bay. None of the accessories listed below cost more than $40, yet they'll let you charge pretty much anything, anywhere, at any time.

  • 01 of 05

    If you're heading overseas, don't forget that the power sockets are usually different to what you find back home. While much of the Americas and a few other countries use the same plugs as the US, the rest of the planet doesn't. That's where a world travel adapter like the Skross MUV USB comes in.

    There are hundreds of different models of travel adapters, and honestly, most of them are terrible. The Skross model avoids most of the problems of its competitors, with a solid, well-constructed adapter that works reliably and fits firmly into all kinds of wall sockets. It includes a pair of USB sockets with a combined output of 2.1amps, so you can charge one tablet or two smartphones alongside whatever you've plugged into the wall.

    It's not perfect – ideally it'd be a little smaller, a little cheaper and be able to handle three-pin (earthed) plugs as well as the standard two-pin versions – but overall, it's one of the best world travel adapters I've used.

  • 02 of 05

    Long days spent in transit and on excursions will drain your devices faster than you can say “now, how exactly do I find my hotel?” Rather than trying to find power sockets in unfamiliar cities and situations, grab a cheap portable battery and keep everything charged when you need it.

    Amazon's “Basics” selection usually offers good, no-frills products at affordable prices, and its Power Banks are no exception. The best of the lot is the 16,100mAh version – that's a lot of capacity for around thirty bucks. It'll fully charge a tablet computer twice, or a smartphone several times, which should be enough to get even a couple of people through a lengthy flight.

  • 03 of 05

    While many of our electronics are now charged via USB, there are still times where you'll find yourself with more plugs than sockets in your hotel room. Anything from laptops to hair straighteners, travel irons to cameras and more need to be plugged into the wall to charge – but who wants to buy and carry several travel adapters on their trip?

    I've been using the Monster OTG400 Power Strip to get around this problem for years. It's a compact (6.25”) power strip, with four sockets and a short wraparound cable for easy transporting. Plug it into your travel adapter, then the adapter into the wall, and save a bunch of weight and money. Just don't forget to check voltages before you plug anything in!

    You'll likely want to put a bit of black tape over the unnecessarily-bright power LED if you plan to use it at night, but other than that, it's a simple, inexpensive solution to a common travel problem.

  • 04 of 05

    For the rest of your gadgets, forget hanging cables out of your laptop or packing a bunch of those individual USB wall chargers. Instead, power up to four devices from a single USB charger – without even needing a separate travel adapter.

    There are a few different models out there, but I like the SANSYS 4-Port version. It can output up to 4.8amps, so that's a couple of tablet computers, four phones, or most other combinations of USB-powered gadgets you can come up with.

    Setting it apart from most competitors, the SANSYS comes with a small collection of clip-on plug adapters for the US, UK, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. If you're only traveling with mobile electronics, this may be the only charger you need. Drop a few cables in your day pack, and you're good to go for under twenty bucks.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    If you've never had the pleasure of using wireless charging for your phone or tablet, you've been missing out. Rather than messing around with easily-damaged plugs and cables, just drop your device on a charging pad and walk away. It's slowly becoming more common to find wireless charging pads in chains like Starbucks, and I've seen and used them in other restaurants and cafes around the world.

    If you'd like to keep that wireless convenience in your hotel room, RAVPower offers a small, travel-sized charging pad that's easy to slip into a day pack or jacket pocket. It ships with a USB wall charger, and will power any gadget that's compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard.

    Wireless charging is slightly slower than using a wire, but unless you're in a huge hurry, the convenience outweighs the extra time.

    Despite its small size, I've had no problem aligning phones or a small (7”) tablet on the charging pad, with a loud beep letting you know that...MORE charging has started.

    Qi charging is built into several Android devices from the likes of Samsung, LG and HTC, and can be added to other phones (including iPhones) via a separate power coil or case.  

Keeping your gadgets charged up when you're traveling can be surprisingly frustrating, but with some small investments, it doesn't have to be. Whether you're traveling with just a smartphone or a huge collection of electronics, a few of these accessories will keep things running, no matter where in the world you happen to be.

 

About.com may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page.