Packing for the Road – Power
A laptop computer without power is just a very expensive paperweight. Keep your computer and accessories powered up with these suggestions.
Laptop Power Supply / Cable
After forgetting my laptop’s AC power supply on a business trip (it was plugged into my QuickDock back in my home office), I decided it made sense to have a separate laptop power supply for travel. If you plan to upgrade computers in the next year or two, you might prefer to buy a third-party unit with interchangeable connectors rather than the OEM version.
AC Plug Adapters
If you’re journeying to a different country or world region, you’ll need to be ready to cope with the wide variety of AC connectors. If your computer’s power adapter or other AC adapters are designed to provide 90~230V 50~60 cycle current, plug converters are all you need. Check out the International Electricity page at the Walkabout Travel Gear website for more about international AC voltages, voltage converters, and adapter plugs.
You can pack separate AC adapters for your smartphone, iPod, and other mobile electronics, but a single charging pad can recharge your devices while reducing the chances you’ll lose one of your adapters. While most charging pads are too bulky for travel, Powermat makes a portable version that works with most types of mobile electronics.
12V DC power inverter
If a driving trip’s in your future and you need to keep your computer or other devices available at all times, consider a power inverter that converts 12V DC power into AC power. Keep in mind that if you need more than 100 watts of power, the 12V lighter jack doesn’t provide enough power; instead, you’ll need an inverter that connects directly to your vehicle’s battery.
Additional or Higher-Capacity Computer Battery
If you’re running out of battery life before you’re out of trip, look for a battery with longer life. Batteries are rated by number of cells, AmpHours, or watt-hours (WHr). With any of these rating systems, larger values indicate longer battery life per charge. In addition to your computer vendor, don’t forget to check with third-party suppliers such as DuracellDirect, BatteriesPlus, and many electronics retailers.
Airplane-Compatible Power Source
If you want to run your laptop aloft without the need to periodically check the battery life gauge, plug it in. According to TripAdvisor’s SeatGuru website, commercial aircraft most often use the EmPower DC power system, but some offer standard AC plugs or 12V cigarette lighter jacks instead. Check out the site for details about which aircraft types use a particular system, where to find the power connectors on different aircraft models, and some recommended adapters and converters.
Packing for the Road – Privacy and Glare
If you’re planning to work outside at your destination or in the window seat on your flight, the glossy screens common on most recent laptop computers don’t make it easy to see what’s on your screen. Consider antiglare screens: 3M, ViewGuard, and NuShield are among the brands that also offer privacy shields that combine antiglare features plus the ability to block “shoulder-surfing.”
To keep your display clean, slip some LCD cleaning wipes into your laptop bag.