Inside My Backpack: Travel Power Strip

Whether you like it or not, technology is a big part of our life these days. Seemingly everyone has a cell phone (or two), a digital camera and/or a cam corder, a tablet/reader, a laptop, an mp3 player, and the list can go on. One common thing all these have in common is that all of them eventually run out of juice (some rather fast) and require to be plugged in to charge.

Oh no!

Unfortunately, most of airports/hotels/hostels/coffee shops/other places people tend to need to charge their gadgets at do not seem to understand that and/or are unwilling to invest into installing more power outlets. Nowhere this is more evident than at a hostel where anywhere from four to twelve people are normally sharing one room (an sometime as many as twenty). While I have stayed at some places that have power outlets installed near every bed, more often than not, it is a case of just a couple outlets per room (with one of them usually not working).

Great hostel in Wanaka, New Zealand... but only one power outlet for eight people

Add to that limited times when electricity may be available in some places, and the battle for the outlet(s) can get pretty ugly!

Fortunately, the solution is simple - a power strip!

But just any old big and bulky gizmo wouldn't do in this case - we want something small and light - after all, it all adds up to the weight of our backpack (suitcase, purse, etc). This is where Monster Electronics "Outlets To Go" series of travel power strips comes to the rescue!

Monster Outlets To Go Powerstrip with three outlets

I bought the three-outlet version before I left for my round-the-world trip and have used it literally everywhere around the world! It has two outlets on one side and another one on the other side with a cord that neatly wraps around and plugs into one of the outlets for compact and hassle free storage.

My typical setup - four devices with one outlet!

I love the compact design - 4.75" x 2.25" x 1.8" (12 x 5.5 x 4.5 cm) and the very light weight (unfortunately I have not been able to find the manufacturer spec for the actual numbers). Here is how it compares to a dollar bill:

Three outlet strip vs $1 bill

Besides reducing the frustration of hunting down all the outlets I needed there is another less obvious benefit to having everything being charged at the same time - time savings! Normally, I wouldn't leave my laptop and the rest of the gear in the open so I would have to sit there and wait for things to charge up before I can get out and explore whatever city I was at. If I had to charge everything up one device at a time, it would naturally take me much longer than having all of them charging together.

Another benefit of being able to connect all these devices to just one wall outlet is the fact that it saved me the hassle of carrying multiple plug adapters. With just one adapter and this power strip, I could plug in all my devices with North American plugs into any wall outlet in the world.

So to recap:

  • less frustration trying to find enough outlets to charge your gear
  • charge everything at the same time
  • one one plug adapter needed to plug in all your devices
  • share an outlet with friends/significant other/other travelers (it's the little things that help you make friends while you travel!)

What's not to love about this little gizmo, right?

Well, there are actually a couple things I found just a tiny bit frustrating - the bright blue LED light on the plug itself is just too damn bright at night and one of the plastic outlet covers came off very soon after I started using it so it didn't look as aesthetically pleasing anymore.

Grey cover missing from one of the outlets

Still, overall, I found this little power strip to be of great help time and time again. If you really think three outlets is not enough for you, they also have a four outlet version, a six outlet version,  as well as one with a USB outlet built in. Do keep in mind that they seem to increase in size quite a bit (and weigh more as well). I found the three outlet version to be enough and I do bring quite a bit of gear with me.

While this strip will work anywhere in the world (as long as you have an adapter plug for it), it does come with a circuit breaker to prevent the strip from overloading so if you have a lot of devices sucking in a lot of power at the same time, the circuit breaker will pop. For example, the three-outlet strip is rated at 10 Amps (110V) for the total of 1100 Watts of power (110 times 10) that it can supply to the devices. If using the same strip in Europe, it can only supply 5 Amps at 220V (1100 divided by 5). Check your devices for their power ratings (current draw at the specified voltage) to determine how much output you will need.

Tips & Tricks, Traveldimagear, imb