Tips for Traveling with your Tech Toys

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #153


My trip to Florida last week for Thanksgiving with my family reminded me that traveling with today’s technology isn’t always easy... so here are some tips that may help make your holiday travels a bit more pleasant.

No matter where you go—hotel, motel, or a room at mom’s—chances are you won’t find enough electrical outlets in your room to recharge all your tech toys. So my first tip is to pack a small, lightweight power strip with at least four AC outlets. I picked one up at HEB for about $10 a few years ago; I leave it in my suitcase so I’ll never (again) forget it.


I rarely travel without an inexpensive power strip like this one…

Along the same lines, don’t forget to bring any and all chargers and cables you might need. I always pack a couple of extra Lightning (iPhone/iPad) cables, since the rest of my family often forgets them. But this was my first trip with an Apple Watch and, of course, I forgot to pack its charging cable.  So before you take off, check that you’ve packed all the cables and chargers you’re going to need.

Another thing I never travel without are spare batteries for all occasions. First and foremost, I keep a fully-charged 16,000 mAh battery with two USB ports in my backpack at all times (Monoprice Select Series Portable Cell Phone Charger; $19.99), along with Lightning, Micro-USB, and Mini-USB cables for charging iPhones, iPads, speakers, wireless headsets and other tech toys.

Monoprice Powerstrip

This 16,000mAh battery will charge several iPhones or iPads before it needs recharging itself.

For what it's worth, I also throw some AA and AAA batteries into my backpack, just in case. I don’t often need ‘em, but they’ve saved me time and trouble more times than I can count. 

Moving right along, don’t forget to pack headphones, and, if your family is like mine, don’t forget to pack one or more spares. It seems that on most trips someone forgets (or breaks) their headphones… which is why I always pack an extra set or two along with a Y-splitter (2-into-1 adapter) so we can connect two headsets to one device to share a movie or music.

Finally, if I know I’ll be driving a car other than my own, I bring an iPhone dash mount so I can use my iPhone for driving directions without touching it. There are many types of dash mount devices available but I’ve found the kind that you stick into the slot of the car’s CD player to be the most secure and reliable. I’ve got one from Satechi (on the left in the figure below; $19.99) and another from Koomus (on the right in the figure below; $24.99); they both work great.

Satechi Koomus

Just stick a gizmo like these in the CD slot for hands-free navigation in any car!

On the other hand, since many cars lack an in-dash CD player these days, there are also dash mounts that hang on the air conditioning vents. I don’t like them as much—I find them less secure than a CD mount. That being said, a vent-mount could be your only option.

One last thing: If you’re going to be in a car, don’t forget your car charger(s). Remember that using Maps (or Google Maps) on your iPhone will drain its battery faster than just about anything else. Plus, if anyone forgot to charge their iPhone last night, it’ll make you a hero.

And that’s all he wrote…