Juggling appointments, project deadlines and video conferencing from the road with a constant ticking clock on battery power is problematic to say the least. Factor in a GPS misfire, a flat tire or even an unexpectedly long meeting, and the situation is amplified significantly. During the past year, a few new options have floated across my radar for fighting this dilemma with as little frustration as possible. Following are my favorite strategies for keeping battery woes at bay.
Combos: Carrying a separate battery backup and charging cable to keep your phone topped off can be a real drag when you are already running short of space in your gear bag. Finding a spot to plug in both devices along with your laptop at a crowded airport gate can be a frustrating feat as well. Recently, my husband and I discovered the existence of battery cases for our smartphones.
Since the battery is located inside the protective case you place on your mobile anyway, you receive additional functionality out of an item you were already using. No extra storage space necessary. There’s also no extra charging cord required since using the same attachment port you would normally use to charge your phone through your phone case charges both items at once. For less than $20 a pop, we ordered one for each of us and never looked back. We receive more than double the charge time and our equipment takes up as little space as possible. Ours are from a company called Accerzone, which makes cases to fit our particular phones, but prices are comparable for equivalent products to suit other models.
Size: As with the cases mentioned above, the size of any piece of technical travel equipment is of specific concern. Bulky gear is always a bore, but portable battery rechargers can be exceptionally frustrating when it comes to finding luggage room. This is why my husband and I were so excited to find a miniature one by Nuon on the Batteries Plus website recently. Previously, we always switched between regular and rechargeable batteries whenever we transitioned between fast-paced travel to stationary periods where we slow down to work on more time-consuming projects. For 30 bucks, we now have a space-efficient option for recharging the batteries we use most often on the road for things such as specialized astronomy binoculars and red light headlamps.
Another go-to piece of charging equipment for our household is a world power travel adapter by Targus. While the $20 price we paid was certainly right for our budget, what we really love most about it is the fact it all fits in a compact tube shape that’s easy to pack. So many similar products can be enormous by comparison, and make working while abroad more frustrating than it needs to be, particularly on days when we need to change locations with all of our bags in tow. We’ve been using this power adapter for several years now, and it continues to work seamlessly whenever we need it.
Infrastructure: Any digital nomad who routinely uses fast food establishments and bookstore coffee shops to crank out some work between highway stops can attest to one highly inconvenient truth. Free Wi-Fi doesn’t necessarily mean free electrical access to go with it. For those living out of a carry-on bag with limited space, one multi-plug adapter and a single extension cord will only get you so far, particularly if you need to go for long stretches of time between traditional charging options. In addition to in-flight power ports and more charging stations showing up at airports these days, some interesting new options are starting to show up in major cities.
LinkNYC, for example, offers power charging and internet access at free-to-use kiosks throughout the Big Apple. Visitors needing to charge their mobile device can do so via a USB port connected only to power for security purposes, while still accessing the internet via a touch screen and keypad for free calls and information searching as they wait to power up. Residents and tourists alike can utilize these free stations as they search out eateries, transportation, polling locations and more. The kiosks even have ports to plug in your headphones so you can have privacy for any calls you need to make while you await a full charge. These same types of kiosks are also available throughout the U.K. in England, Wales and Scotland. Similar devices are coming soon to both Philly and Newark, N.J.
Making your life work from the road can be challenging, but not impossible. With a few precision product purchases, planned access to infrastructure and a commitment to pay attention to power-hogging background apps, you can remain as charged as necessary for most situations.