Plugging In: The Latest in Travel Gadgets

XD Design Window USB Solar ChargerBy Jack Callahan

The purpose of travel is to explore new destinations, to learn and try to understand that things are done differently in different places. Most of those experiences are invigorating and instructive; they are what keep travelers traveling. Some of those learning experiences, however, are incredibly frustrating. Electrical plugs are one such cultural oddity that exasperates the weary traveler. Getting an adapter is not difficult, even if you have to buy it once you arrive at your destination because that Universal Adapter you purchased didn’t live up to its billing. But on a trip with a few different stops? Where plugs may be different in each and every hotel? There’s nothing worse than walking through a city taking mental snapshots, all the while fuming about your camera and its dead battery sitting helplessly next to the most recent jigsaw-shaped power outlet you’ve encountered. To remedy this travel plight, below is a list of electronic devices to ease your mind and streamline your trip.

1. Flip-It USB Charger

This clever little device hangs on the prongs of a traditional plug, with a plastic tag that leeches 1 amp of electricity from the connection. Effectively plugging two devices into one outlet, the Flip-It lets you plug in any USB-style charger and gives you enough power to charge any type of mobile device.

2. Solar Power USB charger

This XD Design charger is a stylish version of a product that’s gaining popularity: solar-powered cell phone chargers. Perfect for long train journeys between destinations or a quick fix in a cab ride, it sticks onto the inside of a window and quickly converts sunlight into battery life. The XD Design Window USB Solar Charger is available for iPhone, Android, Samsung, LG, Blackberry, Nokia, and HTC smartphones.

3. USB Razor

Not all electrical currents are as regular as we are used to in our homes, and it’s often the smaller devices like electric razors that fall victim to power surges or strong currents. Avoid all of that hassle with a razor that charges through a USB port. Plug it into a computer just like you would an external hard drive. No outlet required.

4. Battery Boost

The Battery Boost — for when you can’t plug your device in, there isn’t enough sunlight to use a solar charger, and your device will be out of battery long before you need it to call a cab to your hotel. Like a reserve battery, the Battery Boost holds an hour of additional battery life for emergency situations. Slide it into your pocket, or clip it on your keys — just don’t leave the hotel room without it.

5. Victorinox Presentation Master

While not exactly an outlet-related device, this Swiss Army Knife provides a perfect multi-tasking USB option for the business traveler. A pocketknife is a smart thing to bring when traveling or touring a foreign city. Whether it’s a corkscrew for that impromptu bottle of wine in the park, a knife to cut up some sandwich materials on the go, or scissors to clean up that worn out sneaker before you get blisters, the pocketknife can be a day-saver in a variety of situations. Add ‘emergency USB drive’ to that list of situations. This knife from Victorinox, the gold standard in pocketknives, has all the usual capabilities as well as a USB drive for that last minute presentation or that must-have download. Available in 4GB or 8GB versions, any other pocketknife seems underprepared.

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