Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traveling Conveniences

Modern day traveling has never been easier (buy a ticket online and you can soon be flying to a far-away exotic location), but it is also full of hassles. While we no longer have to deal with things like traveler checks (credit cards are more widely accepted) and bulky books (an entire library can live on your phone), we’re saddled with new inconveniences such as luggage restrictions, security checks, and providing power to our growing list of electronic devices.
Here are some things to make my traveling go more smoothly.

Google Fi - your everywhere phone.

If you travel internationally, you should seriously consider Google Fi. With Google Fi, there is no need to change phones for different countries, set up new calling and data plans. You have one phone and one phone number then just travel. When you arrive at your destination, Fi will automatically connect to the local mobile network (both local and data) and you simply use your phone as you normally do. You can make and receive calls, browse the web and use your apps as if you were back home.

Checkpoint friendly backpacks - getting through TSA security checks.

Going through airport security checks require taking out your laptops and tablets so security can scan the contents. There are many checkpoint friendly backpacks out there now that opens flat with the laptop/tablet compartments separated from the main area of the backpack. The backpack can go through the scanner without having to take out the electronics and then its just a simple matter of zipping it back up and you can now run to catch your flight.
The backpack I currently use is the Everki Atlas which can also hook on to you luggage so you don’t have to be carrying on your back at all time.

Travel power strip and extension cord - don’t make enemies of your fellow travelers.

It’s rare now to see a person at the airport without an electronic device and most likely they have multiple ones. Although many aiport now provide charging stations, there is still not enough power outlets to go around. Be a good traveling citizen (and also save yourself the pain of having to find multiple outlets for your own charging needs) and bring along a outlet strip so you only need to use one wall outlet. I like ones that provides an extension so you’re not stuck having to stay right next to the outlet.

Voltage converter - don’t fry your electronics and your host’s residence when in a foreign country.

Different countries have different voltage/frequency/plugs standards for their electrical outlets. You can find yourself somewhere with the right voltage/frequency plug but discover that you can’t plug in because the outlet plug is different so it’s a good idea to have a power plug adapter/converter.
Additionally, you need to make sure that the voltage is compatible with your device. The standard in the US is 120V/60Hz (North America is 110/125V) but the majority of the world uses 220/240V. Fortunately, the power adapters of many electronics (laptops, phones, etc) are dual or mutli-voltage capable so many times you can simply plug it in directly. However, there are devices that are single voltage and these devices will require a voltage converter to avoid damage.
Look at the text of your device to determine whether you need a voltage converter. If it has a dash with a range (e.g 100-240V) then it can handle different voltages and won’t require a converter. If it has a slash then it only supports those voltages (e.g. 120/240V means 120V or 240V) so you still need to check that you’re plugging into a supported outlet. As long as it is being used with a supported voltage, you don’t need a voltage converter.
If the device only lists a single voltage or a very small range range (e.g. 110-120V) then it’s a single voltage devices and you’ll need a converter.