When I’m travelling I want to be making the most of my time, getting out and about, having and capturing those moments that memories are made of. These days, I need my gadgets with me too, particularly the phone and camera, which have greater demands placed on them than when I’m at home.
Consequently, during any down time, they are being recharged. So it was frustrating to find on several occasions that they were not fully charged when I needed to get out and about again, and it took a bit of head-scratching to work out why. Turns out there were a number of factors at play.
Firstly, one of my charging cables had, between leaving home and arriving in Singapore, become dysfunctional. Swapping it for another sorted that.
Secondly, I’ve noticed on various occasions that my gadgets, especially the iPad, takes longer to charge when overseas, when using the same charger and cable as at home. Friends have commented on the same phenomenon. I just did a quick search and couldn’t find any definitive information on this, but my own conclusion is that the reason is the slightly lower voltage (around 220 volts) found in most countries compared to Australia (240 volts). The iPad needs a few more amps than the iPhone, and it seems the voltage drop is enough to make a difference to the time it takes to charge.
The third factor is related. The iPad generally stays in my room while I’m out, an ideal time to let it charge in its own good time. However, upon returning to my room I’d generally find the device at the same level of partial charge as I’d left it. It took a couple of days to fathom the reason.
For years, when entering a hotel room, one has to put either the smart key or the key tag into a slot to turn on the lights and air-con, a very sensible, energy-saving idea. One might, on occasion, slip one’s library card (or similar) into the slot, to maintain power if one were popping out briefly. Well, those keys and slots are getting smarter, and that little trick no longer works – they can tell the difference between a key card and a drivers licence, so off the power goes.
It turns out that these days the power points in the room are also isolated when the room is vacant! I’d not ever noticed this before, or perhaps I wasn’t as reliant on my devices previously, but it became a bit of a frustration. This was consistently true for the relatively flashy hotels of Singapore and the cheap-as-chips beachside digs of Krabi, and pretty much every other place I stayed during this trip.
Now, having been around a while and having developed a touch of rat-like cunning, I did come up with a couple of workarounds.
If a hotel room has a fridge, it is unlikely to be turned off – the complaints about warm beer would be deafening. So more than once I found myself reaching behind the refrigerator to plug in my charger. If I was lucky, it was on a double power point, but I wasn’t above unplugging it in favour of my device.
It’s probably not a good idea to have the fridge unplugged when the room is being serviced (and indeed it’s not a great idea to leave any valuables laying about in hotel rooms at any time), so the other work around was good even when leaving gadgets in the in-room safe. I started using my power bank to recharge the gadgets. The one I bought was able to charge up to two gadgets at once, and could recharge them both before needing to be recharged itself.
How do you keep your gadgets charged while travelling? Do you find recharging take longer overseas? I’d love to hear your stories, and any creative solutions you’ve come up with to keep them working.
In my next post, I’ll talk about some handy tools for working out how to get around and planning your route.
Note: Mentions or images of particular companies, websites and services are simply a report of my preferences and experiences with them; I don’t have any promotional arrangements with them and have received no benefits or incentives from them.