Power Up For Travel
?AROUND THE WORLD WITH JENNIFER MERIN
When you’re on the road and away from everything that’s happening at home, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is that you lose power on the devices that keep you in touch and in the know. You arrive at your destination, and you find that your cell phone or whatever device you rely on for communication is out of power – and you can’t contact friends and family to find out how your hospitalized cousin is faring or whether your daughter passed her driving test. And you can’t text those who about you that you have landed safely and there is no cause for their concern.
You can’t read work- related emails for updates that impact your plans. You can’t call your limo driver or phone the airline to see if you can get a standby spot on another flight when you’ve missed your connection.
Being out of touch can even be frightening– especially during the days of pandemic and if you’re in a place completely unknown to you and deemed to be even marginally dangerous for health or other reasons.
Sometimes you even run out of juice when you’ve taken pains to prepare and manage your cell or tablet usage.
Power failure just sneaks up on you. How and why? Perhaps your flight was delayed and you occupied the wait time by watching a movie, or maybe you were on a long flight and watched two movies, or you forgot to switch to airplane mode, or you were talking or texting full steam before you boarded the airplane and didn’t have time to recharge. There are lots of reasons, and they all lead up to one result: your device is dead on arrival.
The airlines provide electric charging outlets for passengers on many of their flights. You can recharge while you’re aloft if you’re in the first class cabin or in business or premium economy class seats. Remember to plug in to eliminate any power problem. But those who are seated in economy – at the back of the plane – may not have outlets at their seats and are just out of luck onboard. And, an unfortunate reality is that available inflight outlets may not be working.
Forget about the ifs. Buy yourself some power protection. There is a wide variety of easy to procure and very affordable options. They are small – some not much larger than the size of a business card – and lightweight external devices that store enough power to recharge your electronic devices. The variables are the amount of backup power they hold, their physical size and weight, and which adapter plugs are supplied with them. And, of course, their design.
Some portable power packs are for use with specific cell phones. For example, Mophie makes power units that are designed to fit and work with a range of iPhones and android models. The units are handsome, protective cell phone cases that store enough power to double the battery life of your cell phone. Each unit has enough power to cover eight hours of talk time, seven hours of Internet or 44 hours of audio.
There’s an on/off toggle switch, so power stays in reserve to be accessed when you’re iPhone is running low. Just switch the toggle from red to green, and power is delivered to your phone. An indicator light shows when your Mophie is running low on power. You recharge it with a USB cable that lets you sync your cell phone at the same time.
In addition to recharging your cell phone, the Mophie protects it. The case is hard plastic and has a shock-absorbing rubber ring around it. The case adds four ounces to the weight of your phone and a bit of bulk. Prices are variable, but most units cost from about $50 to $100.
Of course, many Mophie charging cases are product-specific, but the company also manufactures small external charging units that can be used with more than one device, and some can be used with more than one device at a time. Check the Mophie catalogue for the full range of models.
Of course there are other brands, as well. If you’re looking for something small, try the Fat Cat Charge Card, which is about the side of a credit card – although a bit thicker – and weighs just two ounces. It’s amazing that a something that small holds 2,000 aMh of power – the same as the Mophie. The Fat Cat Charge Card comes with 16 interchangeable plug tips, so it’s useable with all sorts of devices. A cute little black pouch is provided to carry the unit and its plugs. It costs about $60.
If you want heftier power, pick the Powermonkey, which fully recharges your phone three times – about 30 minutes per charge, and you can use the phone during it -- or it powers your phone on standby for 96 hours. It comes with eleven adapter plugs that fit a variety of electronic devices, including play stations.
Powermonkey is shaped like an elongated egg (three and a half inches long) that fits in the palm of your hand -- or in your pocket. It weighs three ounces, has its own travel pouch and a clear plastic chest-like case for storage. It costs $69.
Even more powerful, myCharge Hub 10050 Turbo Power Charger is king of the power backup hill. It has an 10050mAh internal battery, charges up to 75 time faster than other units and has built in cables for iPhone and USB-C cables. It measures about 5” x 2” x 1” and weighs nine ounces, so you probably want to toss it into your carryon instead of keep it in your pocket. The Hub 10050 Turbo costs about $100, by myCharge makes a wide range of models that are smaller, lighter weight and less expensive. Browse the myCharge website before buying.
If you’re going someplace where it’s difficult or impossible to plug your device or your charging unit into a wall socket, consider turning to solar powered charging units. Powermonkey has a good one, but the best is the Hiluckey 25000mAh Solar Power Bank with four separate charging panels for a quick energy grab from the sun. The unit doesn’t require bright or direct sunlight, and can be topped off by exposure to indoor light. If a wall socket is available, or another main source of power such as a computer, the unit can also be charged up via a built in USB port. It has two USB outlets. Aside from the double sourced charging convenience, it is rugged, water resistant, shockproof, dustproof and compact -- and it has a flashlight, compass and a hook so that it can be hung up while charging. Powerwise, the unit has the capacity to charge an iPhone eight to ten times.
As with any purchase, do your research before buying. There are literally dozens of portable charging units for sale on the internet, so browse thoroughly to make sure you get the convenience and design and price that bests suits your need.