Summer vacation is now in season. As an occasional road warrior and yearly summer adventurer to familiar lands or new horizons, I find myself in need of a way to charge all of those pesky mobile electronics; those like cell phones, GPS, MP3 players, portable beach radio, and camera batteries. I prefer to travel as light as possible, but carting a knapsack full of power bricks and too-long USB cables is not my idea of true stow-n-go.
I’ve found a couple of solutions that may interest you. I use Nikon cameras, and at this time, the only way to charge the battery is in a cradle. I have a point and shoot and an SLR. The batteries are two different sizes and the data cables to transfer photos to laptop are two different formats. Thank you Nikon, NOT. I usually only travel with the point and shoot, but if I need both, I limit the support gear to the battery cradles, a one-foot C7, figure 8 plug, and a memory card reader. The power cable fits both cradles, and the card reader is smaller, lighter, and faster than the separate USB cables. I got both at Cyberguys. There are many other vendors and devices available. I like Cyberguys; their Customer Service is great.
For my Apple IPod, I shortened the length of the charger/data cable to 1 ft. Cyberguys carries it on-line for under $10. They also have a selection of card readers, and I went with the IO Gear, multi-format reader. For the cell phone, the Bluetooth headset, and my GPS system I chose a single, flexible solution from GOMADIC.
GOMADIC has created an ideal USB charging solution. One USB cable can charge all of the above devices, except the Nikons. The trick is GOMADIC uses different power/data tips for each device, so all you need is one cable. This means that everything can fit in a very small accessory bag or box. The only drawbacks are not all tips perform both data and power functions (an obvious sales maneuver) and learning or cribbing which tip goes with which device. My Bluetooth head set only needs a charger tip. The GPS only needs one tip for both functions, but if you going to do both at the same time, you may need two tips. The IPods require two tips, one for data and one to charge, so I opted for a short data/power cable from Ziotek. If I need to charge the MP3 and another device with two cables, I can do so, but I could have just as easily bought two GOMADIC cables and two tips.
If I am on a longer trip, I add a two-port USB wall charger like MusicPower. There are several others that would work fine, but I like model 0900-71, because it is flat, the prongs fold, and has two charging ports. For road trips, I add a two-port cigarette lighter charger like the Scosche and a regular length IPod cable. If you are going ultra-light all you need is the cables and tips.
I completed my kit with a USB AAA, AA battery charger for a portable speaker system or other similar devices. Why USB? Simply, it is smaller and lighter than other chargers. The AC, wall plug components are absent. Also, another option for the Nikons is additional batteries that you charged at home in advance.
If you are somewhat like Felix Ungar (OCD) from the Odd Couple or a little too geeky and too organized, then like me, you may want to create multiple sets. I have one for road travel and one for all others.
The GOMADIC solution is super cool, compact, and efficient. I think you can only get their products through the website. They have tips for all kinds of mobile electronics, so check them out, and Happy Trails.