Traveling light?

One problem with traveling with high tech equipment is the amount of stuff you end up carrying.

Other than hiring a pack mule, the first step in reducing this burden is to lay out all the equipment you think you need to take and then start eliminating what is not really necessary. Sounds simple, but it is easy to overlook something that you thought you already packed.

If there are duplicates, are both of them required? Is the device really required?

When you have worked out the minimum requirement, make a list including dependencies. If you do not bring your camera, you do not need the camera battery charger.

So what are some ideas for traveling light?

Power Cables

For most chargers, they consist of a transformer brick and a removable power cable. To allow sales in markets with different power outlets, the manufacturers standardized on a 110/220 transformer and the appropriate power cable for the type of power plug used in that country. Unfortunately, these power cables tend to be about four feet long. So, the fewer the better.

The good part is that although there are many power plugs around the world, there are only three different connectors on the other end of the power cables and so far I have only run into two types in actual use in North America. The reason I believe there are only three is that I did a search for power cables and that was the maximum I found. They basically break down into two connectors – polarized, two connectors – unpolarized and three connectors.

I have also found the same thing for battery chargers for cameras. I have three Nikons, and all the charging cradles are different. Luckily, the power cables to go into the wall outlet are removable and Nikon uses the same cable.

So, if you need to save space, do you really need duplicate Power Cables?  For my cameras, I take the charging cradles and only one cable.

Shorty Cables

I have been lucky enough to find a few short cables and have added them to my cable collection. I have also made several shorty cables myself. I cut the cable down to 4 to 6 inches and add a new powerplug or I splice the cable. Considering the risks, make sure that whoever makes the cable knows what they are doing. So when I get bored, I usually make a few of these shorty cables. For some of my European friends, they love the shorty cables because they do not having to use their bulky plug, connected to a plug converter to use their laptops while they are in the US.

Think USB

For my Zune HD the charging cradle takes up space, but the Zune comes with a simple USB cable that can be used for charging.

A number of devices like cell phones come with USB cables for transferring information. These USB cables also supply power, so as long as you have the USB cable, you do not need your charger. For a while, most cell phones used a proprietary connector, now the industry appears to be standardizing on mini or micro USB connectors.

For one of my cell phones I picked up a data transfer package that included cables for several models. The bonus with these transfer cables was that the company had standardized on USB and the kit came with a standard length USB-USB cable and a series of short adapters. So I now have a 3” cable to connect my phone to my laptop for charging. Another charger eliminated.


Your need for carrying extra batteries may be dependent on whether you can afford the time to go to a local store for batteries or you have a large audience waiting on your pearls of wisdom.

This may seem like a luxury, but you should consider carrying a small battery tester. It will let you know if you need to change the batteries in your mouse or the device has another problem. Since batteries do not all die at the same time, it will let you know which battery needs replacing.

If you do consider carrying extra batteries consider a storage container to protect the batteries from accidently causing a short if they are in contact with anything metal rather than carrying them loose.  A small flashlight is a good storage device. Since you have to carry the batteries anyway, it is light and may prove useful.

Power Bar

When I travel outside North America, I bring along a power plug convertor and a power bar. To keep the number of items to a minimum, I have a power plug converter that switches between the various power plug types. Rather than a full power bar I use a small wall tap like this one

NET – stands for – Not Entirely True

John Marshall… Visio MVP

Published by johnvisiomvp

The original Visio MVP. I have worked with the Visio team since 1993