It’s Electric!

21 May

You know that I like gadgets.  After yesterday’s little love letter to my Kindle, I’m a little embarassed at just how much I gushed.  But I’m not going to take it back.  You see, back when everyone else started buying up their iThings I avoided the temptation.  Heck, I scoffed and scorned those that would need every song, every bit of info, every video at their fingertips.

Be glad that I didn't post a picture of some of the burns I saw when I searched for electrical "fun". Be safe out there, travelers!

That all changed when I got an iPod.  I’m not proud of caving.  Being just another member of a herd isn’t much fun… except when it is.  I don’t like being just another sheep with ear buds but I do like having songs with me when I want to listen to them.  I also like being able to learn things when I want, when I think of it.  In fact, I’m probably driving myself crazy and taking others along for the ride with all this info I’ve been glutting on.

But since I mentioned it… I did some research on taking gadgets with on travel and I thought that I’d share.  There are three different things you might wish to bring with you for power: converters, transformers and adaptors.  I’ve already bought two adaptors for our trip.  An adaptor simply adapts the plug so that it fits in the wall.  Pretty simple, huh?  But where do the converters and transformers that everyone wants you to buy come in?

Converters convert voltage.  Here in the US of A we use 110-120 V and in most other countries 220-240 V is the norm.  Most portable gadgets are ready to go with either current.  You just need the adaptor to change the plug.  However, if you’re running something with heat or a motor, the example that everyone uses is a hairdryer, then you’ll need a converter.  Lots of companies make converters with adaptors on them so your voltage and your plug are taken care of in one fell swoop.

The transformers most of us won’t need.  This is when you’re powering a bigger electronics device.  Maybe you travel with a full-sized printer and a dorm fridge, I don’t know.  These guys would need a transformer and I’m not talking about Optimus Prime.  These devices typically weigh a few pounds. 

For both converters and transformers it would be best to think about if you really need the sucker instead of getting it to be safe.  Somewhere down the line I’m going to throw my packing list on this blog but one thing I can tell you right now: if you don’t need it, don’t bring it.  This is especially true if you are traveling to an industrialized country.  Loads of people are packing for the “what if” scenario.  If you’re renting a car or have a staff, then okay.  But if you are the mule who be carrying your pack just remember that you can buy stuff when you get there if you find you really need it or have a memorable experience figuring out how to get along without it.  Remind me to tell you about what Mom and I did when we couldn’t find a bathroom in the Roman ruins.  It’s memorable.

There are some fantastic sites for figuring this stuff out but here are my two favorites are Frommer’s and Voltage ValetFrommer’s talks more about how power applies to the average traveler and leaves out the whole history of electricity bit.  Voltage Valet helps you figure out how to tell if your device will work or blow you into next week.  (If you’re a Mac user the power information isn’t on the device but on the charger itself).

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