How to Travel Light – and recharge everything

One of the biggest problems travelling these days is the amount of devices we own that need charging; laptops, phones, camera batteries, drones, toothbrushes, shoes... ok maybe not shoes... not yet anyway. I own bluetooth running shoes and I’m not sure what powers them.

A shot of a couple of village boys outside Mandalay, Myanmar. The chief’s house was the only one in the whole village that had electricity so everyone went there to recharge their phones. And we think we have phone battery problems. In the age of rechargeable devices it’s important not to overload yourself with so many chargers and cables that it makes travel unenjoyable. Or worse still you run out of juice on holidays.

A shot of a couple of village boys outside Mandalay, Myanmar. The chief’s house was the only one in the whole village that had electricity so everyone went there to recharge their phones. And we think we have phone battery problems. In the age of rechargeable devices it’s important not to overload yourself with so many chargers and cables that it makes travel unenjoyable. Or worse still you run out of juice on holidays.

As a professional commercial photographer I had to take a considerable amount of gear with me when I was on the road. And charging was a priority and complicated, especially when travelling abroad. I learned over time how to minimise the cable chaos that cluttered my carrying bags. And that applies for family holidays too.

I used to carry multiple adaptors for each and every charger I had, one for my camera batteries, one for my iPhone, one for my laptop... you get the idea. It was a mess in my bag and a pain setting it up and tearing it down in every hotel. Then I had the idea to carry one adaptor with me and a home extension board and just plug every adaptor into that. Seriously. I thought I was a genius. But the extension board was big and heavy and while I only needed one adaptor It was still chaotic and drew giggles and derision from my wife when I was packing the suitcase.

I used to take this with me everywhere and I thought It was neat. An international plug adaptor, an extension board, two camera battery chargers, iPhone adaptors and more. And this was after I reduced my kit.

I used to take this with me everywhere and I thought It was neat. An international plug adaptor, an extension board, two camera battery chargers, iPhone adaptors and more. And this was after I reduced my kit.

Then I watched a great video by Tony Northrup that took it all one step further and greatly simplified the process. It is the most useful non photography related video that helped my travel photography. It did take a bit of gear reconfiguration but it was well worth it and now it’s so simple. And it’s perfect for vacations.

Click to enlarge image. I now carry this one small case with me and just throw it into the suitcase when we pack for holidays. It contains one USB charger, four cables to recharge everything, even on holidays when there are several phones. It’s small, light and best of all my wife no longer laughs at me.

First I ditched the huge clunky battery charger that came with my camera that required to be plugged into a mains outlet. Now I have a charger that can recharge two batteries at the same time overnight and plugs into a USB charger. My iPhone uses a standard USB plug so that was easy. The biggest change I made was to ditch my laptop and use an iPad Pro instead which is also charged via USB. This was very calculated as it turned out after many years I didn’t use my laptop that much while on the road and the iPad had all the apps I needed. But you can even charge laptops with USB-C power ports these days.

At the heart of all this is a four port USB Charger. I only need one free socket, one worldwide adaptor and everything else plugs into one of the 4 USB ports. On holidays my whole family can charge our phones and at night I can charge the camera batteries and iPad. It all fits into a small pack that I keep on standby and just throw into the suitcase anytime we’re going on a trip. It saves time and space and we are never stuck with a dead device.

Tony’s video has lots more details and suggestions including car chargers so please check out his excellent video if you’re interested. 

With air travel restrictions it’s essential to have a light simple set up for recharging everything on the go. Family holidays are hectic enough without having a dead phone or a camera that runs out of power at the most important moment.

With air travel restrictions it’s essential to have a light simple set up for recharging everything on the go. Family holidays are hectic enough without having a dead phone or a camera that runs out of power at the most important moment.

My recommendations:

USB Chargers: 

Anker make some of the best USB charges and they have a wide variety available depending on how many USB port you need. There are even version with batteries to charge on the road and car charger too. Check them out here.

I bought this one from Satechi because it had the right combination of ports for me. Anker didn’t have one at the time but they do now. I’d also advice buying one with a cable rather than a built in plug because the weight of the charger can mean it may slip out of the socket in an AirBnB or a hotel especially if you have to use it with a world travel adaptor.

Battery Chargers:

Definitely get a dual USB battery charger for your camera batteries to replace the one your camera came with. They’re very cheap. You can charge multiple batteries overnight and never have to worry about running out of juice. There are many brands and they all seem to be OEM manufactured so they are basically the same and are available for every camera. You can check some out here.

World Travel Adaptor: 

I really like this high quality and incredibly neat adaptor from McGear but there are many available in all shapes and sizes.

All of these are available from major retailers such as Amazon and on the Taobao app in China.