Electronics are a necessity for many travellers these days, but you can lighten your load considerably if you cut down on the electronics you’re carrying. One way to do that is to get an all-in-one power adapter like the one we review in this post.

After getting an email from Kevin Monaghan asking us to recommend a worldwide power adapter, we considered the solution we use, which is a Swiss Travel MPC-N1 World Power Adapter and USB Charger

That’s a lot of names, but there are a lot of similar products on the market that seem to do the same thing.

They’re plastic adapters that accept appliances with British, European, US and Australia/New Zealand-style plugs, and which can be plugged into the wall in any of these places. In fact, in over 150 countries. There are four styles of prongs that extend and retract into the adapter, so while it’s quite bulky it takes up a lot less space than four separate adapters. Measurements are 4.0 x 2.5 x 2.0 inches.

If you’re travelling with a lot of appliances, having just one adapter can be enough if you also take a power board with three or four sockets. We had one when we first started travelling, but then we started buying new appliances which don’t fit the New Zealand plugs on the power board. So we threw that away and just have two Swiss Travel adapters – or we did until we left one in Paris.

You can also get these adapters with a special attachment that has a USB socket, allowing you to charge your iPod or any other device that charges via USB. Very useful.

In addition to just having one power adapter, some ways you can cut down on electronics include:

1. Think carefully about what you need. Do you really need that laptop or will an hour in an internet cafe once a week do just as well.
2. Leave one thing behind. Losing one piece of electronics can save you heaps of weight when you think about cables et al.
3. Buy stuff that uses the same connections (mini USB and SD cards are common ways of plugging things in.)
4. Consider downsizing. Can a PDA or smartphone replace your laptop?
5. Investigate travel chargers for your phone. If you’re travelling with someone, make sure both your phones use the same charger and just take one.

Don’t forget to enter the Pikeo competition, and to check out the articles at indietravelpodcast.com/articles. One of our authors, Sherry Ott, has just updated her site – check it out at ottsworld.com.

We’ve spent the last six weeks in Hastings, England and have had some interesting day-trips out to Dover and London in the last week. The highlight has been catching up with friends from home.

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Your thoughts on "Travelling with electronics | Power adapter review"

  • I've been thinking about Travel commons which often deals with electronics and lightening them up.

    on August 22, 2008 at 8:56 pm Reply
  • After years of using cheapy adapters that don't last all that long I thought it was about time I invested in a decent one, so i bought a swiss usb adapter. Its the best thing I've bought in a long time, easy to use, minimises the need for millions of cables and plugs. I have reduced my big box of adapters to just this adapter, and 3 usb cables, one for camera and mobile, one for ipod and one for gps.

    on August 25, 2008 at 8:21 pm Reply
  • Great info. Thank you!

    on August 28, 2008 at 6:05 am Reply
  • Thanks Jessie, It's what we're here for :)

    on August 28, 2008 at 9:56 am Reply
  • This seems a constant battle because I'm always tweaking my electronics kit. It just picked up a 3G iPhone. By combining my phone and iPod, it allowed me to drop one electronic device and one power cord. However, I had to swap out USB chargers because, for some reason, the iPhone doesn't charge on the BlackBerry USB adapter (but the BlackBerry can charge on the iPhone's adapter -- go figure!) It seems that every time I add or change one of the contents of my briefcase, it takes a week for everything to settle back down. Kinda eats into the productivity that these gadgets are supposed to provide.

    on September 3, 2008 at 6:19 pm Reply
  • That's a weird adaptor issue Mark. It's odd how generic connections sometimes don't work. So are you carrying a laptop as well as your ipod or is it good enough for your organisation and work needs? Personally, I can't imagine it working well enough. Since Linda and I are doing more writing we're thinking about a second laptop, maybe an Eee or something like that, which will handle writing. We'll keep the powerbook for all our multimedia work too. Downsizing? I wish.

    on September 3, 2008 at 7:34 pm Reply
  • (Regular ITP author Sherry Ott sent us an email from Nepal where she heard this episode. Because of internet access issues I'm pasting this in here. Craig.) I liked the show about carrying electronics.  Just for the record – I have way too many I carry with me – it’s ridiculous and I also have lenses and a very large camera.  However – all of my electronics such as ipod, computer, camera batteries have chargers that already convert so I don’t carry a power converter with me – just various plug adapters.  It’s good for people to read the tiny print on their chargers and see if they already convert the power…many of them do unless you are talking about hair dryers and actual appliances.  Just thought I would throw in my two cents!

    on September 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm Reply
  • Mark, I had the same problem, for some reason I can´t recharge my iPhone with the Blackberry usb, have you find a solution by any chance ?

    on December 29, 2009 at 3:50 am Reply

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