Web: www.stevenfrischling.com — E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
23/02/2009 – Space Saving Packing Tip : Extra Electrical Outlets On The Road
A simple fact that all traveling photographers face (and most business travellers as well) is the need to access multiple electrical outlets.
Life was simpler when I first started to travel with my camera equipment and I didn’t need to plug anything in. Getting on a plane with two cameras, a few lenses, 48 “AA” batteries, a huge bag of film and a pager (which used “AAA” batteries that lasted 3 weeks) was easy.
As I look at the basic power needs of my quick ‘run-kit,’ I require a minimum of four outlets. This minimum set up is for my laptop, a single camera battery charger, Blackberry charger and an iPhone charger. Yes, the iPhone can be charged off the laptop, but doing that slows down the charging of the laptop, which is problematic during shorter layovers. For many trips I also need an outlet to charge my Sony PSP (also known as ‘the sanity keeper’), often a second camera battery charger and at times an “AA” charger.
…so, now we’re looking at a minimum of six or seven outlets. Check into a hotel, often you’re lucky if you can access two or four outlets. Walk into an airline lounge at the airport and you can sometimes find two, sit down on an airport floor between a garbage bin and screaming kid, you’re lucky to find a single outlet.
When I travel I always carry a simple item, which costs less than US$2.00, which instantly gives me access to three outlets. This item is a multi-outlet splitter three way splitters you can find at any hardware store (technically they are called “Polarized – Single Receptacle to 3 Outlets” or “Rubber Polarized Triple Adapter”). I wrote about using and modifying these back in March of 2008 in this post: 15/03/08 – Electrical Outlets: Need More In Less Space?
Many people pick up a short ‘strip bar’ for additional electrical sockets, however these ‘strip bars’ take up unneeded space and add additional weight to what you are packing. Sure the power strip gives you a cord for additional length, but in a location such as a hotel, airline lounge or airport floor do you need the length?
To avoid taking up any more space than absolutely required I prefer to use the self-contained ‘cube shaped’ multi-outlet splitters. When I purchase these items I make sure the side outlets face the opposite direction of the metal prongs that will be inserted into the outlet. This ensures I will not be blocking off a potential outlet when I stack two of them on top of each other.
As you can see in the photo at the end of this post, the smaller ‘cube shaped’ multi-outlet splitter is a fraction of the size of the larger power strip, while allowing me access to the same number of outlets. As I travel with two of these multi-outlet splitters I simply stack plug them into each other, essentially stacking them, and toss them in my kit. The two ‘cubes’ stacked together still take up significantly less space than a single power-strip, while double my potential access to power outlets.
While the difference in these two items may seem trivial, when you start packing for whole trips, with all of your equipment and clothing, in a single carry-on bag, every square centimeter of your bag becomes valuable real-estate, and trivial items become real factors in being able to do your job, do it quickly and do it effectively.
The ultra-cheap and compact ‘Polarized – Single Receptacle to 3 Outlets’ can be found at any hardware store, the hardware section of virtually every big-box store and near the light bulbs in virtually every grocery store you’ll walk through.
Below is a photo of my one of 3-outlet power strips and 3-outlet ‘cubes.’