The power strip solution

If you travel a lot (or even a little) on business, it is well worth your time reading the stories of business travel – mostly horror but with some real positive gems and lots of irony – posted by my podcasting co-host Shel Holtz on his excellent Road Weary blog.

Shel chronicles episodes of woe and weariness as he wends his way across North America in the service of his clients:

No matter how successful any given trip may be, there’s always some travel provider — an airline, a hotel, a cab company, somebody who will add a bit of misery to the experience. It’s inevitable.

So if you travel, you will identify with many things. Like “Waiting behind the late arrivers” on people who arrive late at the airport but still get their plane before you do and you still wait in line to check in. Or “High speed, low speed, no speed” on net connectivity not working in the room the hotel checked you into, and which they knew about but didn’t say anything. Or his latest: “Crusade against tabletop ironing boards.”

As I said, there are some gems, and I found one last night that has solved a problem for me that I’ve had for as long as I’ve been travelling. And that’s a long time!

This is so simple that I had a massive “Duh!” moment when I read Shel’s “Outlets” post which begins, “A power strip is one of the most indispensable items I pack in my suitcases…”

Of course! A power strip, or an extension as it’s called in the UK. Why on earth have I never thought of this before? Every time I travel to the UK or to the USA, I take a multitude of plug adapters. One for the laptop, one for the mobile phone, one for the camera battery charger, a couple of spares just in case. And if my wife is with me, there are hairdryers and other feminine accoutrements. All with European-style 2-pin plugs. And all requiring a power outlet to plug in to where those plugs won’t fit without an adapter. And there are never enough power outlets for everything.

No more! Thanks, Shel, for a simple but brilliant solution.

So no prizes for guessing what will be in my suitcase for my US trip next week.

[Edit] Hmm, there could be a little detail I’ve overlooked here. The power strip I have in mind to take on my US trip has a little label on the back that says “16A/250V~”.

Electric current here is 240 volts whereas in the US it’s 120. So will my strip fry or just not work if I plug it in to a power outlet? Or maybe the voltage note is because that strip has an on/off switch with a little light. Maybe I take one that has no switch or light, and then it’s just a conduit for the electricity.

So perhaps I just take one and see what happens…

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Lee Hopkins

    Let me know how you get on, because Saudi Arabia has the same 120v power and all my stuff is, like yours, 240v. It’s got me worried that my notebook won’t work over there…

  2. neville

    Your notebook should be fine if the power supply is multi-voltage to work on any country’s current. My ThinkPad’s supply says 100-240v which covers just about everywhere.

    Still need the adapter, though, to plug it in :)

  3. Andy

    I always used to take a long extension cord when travelling around the uk as it was always a nightmare crawling under the hotel bed to reach the one plug. If I didn’t I’d end up with the phone cord stretching across from one end of the room and the laptop pc cord stretching across to the other side.
    Now a 6-8′ extension lead works great – AND it allowed me to plug in my ps1 that I would take if going to be away from home for a week or so.

    As to bringing it to the us I guess the power strip would work in the us but you’d need a us-uk adaptor to plug it in at the wall – I’ve not found any of them in the shops over here in the us though.

    Alternatively most psu bricks take the figure8 lead and you can buy those in most hardware (diy) shops or walmart.

  4. neville

    Thanks for that tip, Andy.

    The adapter, yes, still need at least one adapter. One good thing about the duty free shops at Schiphol airport is that they sell adapters for literally every country you can think of.

    Imagine: I bring the strip with me and forget to get an adapter…

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