Choosing electronics and adapters for hassle free global travel

Traveling with electronics can be a hassle. Not only do the shapes of electrical plugs differ between areas, Voltage and frequency can be different enough to destroy devices. Most inexpensive adapters only adapt the shape of the plug, allowing you to attach your device to an outlet that could immediately kill anything not made for “multi-voltage use”. Full featured International converters that properly adjust voltage and frequency can be bulky, unreliable, and costly. Fortunately there is a simpler solution; universal USB chargers are small, simple, and cheaper than their full featured counterparts.

Our little universal USB adapter(Amazon) can plug into any outlet and always produces safe USB charging ports. It also features a standard wall outlet, but keep in mind that part is only usable with “multi-voltage” items. Relying exclusively on USB power puts some limits on what devices we can use, but Fortunately, most of the portable electronics we like fit this category anyway. This strategy also allows us to charge anything, most importantly our camera, from a USB battery pack. On long flights with lots of tablet use and long days where the camera runs out of juice, we have been very happy to have that extra flexibility.

If you definitely need to use a non-USB device, then purchase one thats “multi voltage” or “dual-voltage” compatible, and use it with the universal outlet on the USB adapter. Multi-voltage devices have a lable that says “Input: 110-240v” while single voltage devices say “Voltage: 110v”

We recommend you avoid carrying these
International AC voltage/frequency converters ($50+ and bulky)
Crappy USB cables that may fail
Appliances like blow driers that your host can provide for you (even AirBnBs have these things, and they will always be compatible with the local power grid)
Laptops (laptop power supplies alone can weigh more than the tablet I carry in place of my PC, but if you have to take it, check to see if its a multi-voltage device. Many laptop power supplies are.)


This is what we carry
International USB power adapter ($15 and small)
USB battery pack(can charge everything we carry)
One good set of USB cables with attached adapters.
7 Inch tablet (Josh) or kindle paperwhite (Nicole).
Keyboard for tablet (Josh)
Headphones & Splitter
Camera (Powershot SX730)


Power adapter
If you only use USB powered devices, this(Amazon) is the only adapter you should need. If you want some extra USB outlets (the adapter only has 2), then carry a standard USB wall wart(Amazon) and plug it in to the adapter. some of the adapters on amazon have 4 USB outlets, but many of them have a lot of fake reviews so watch out. I use fakespot to filter those out.

There are a lot of adapters like this on amazon, but check with fakespot to verify the reviews are real before purchasing.

This charger accepts a variety of voltages, so you can plug it into your international adapter to charge more stuff at once.


Battery Pack
The charger we carry is a super compact 10,000 mAh model(Amazon). This type of charger can be had for around $15.

Super compact Portable USB charger.


By the time you purchase and replace cheep cables once, you’ve probably spent more than buying one high quality, reliable set(Amazon). We also carry tiny adapters to allow us to charge Iphones using the standard Micro USB cables everything else uses. Similar adapters are available for USBC devices.

These Anker USB cables have kevlar-like reinforcement fibers.

USB to Apple lightning adapters, these keep us from needing separate cables just for our phones.

These little straps attach the adapters to the cables, very handy.


Headphones and splitter

Its nice to have good quality Headphones(Amazon) that can block noise and deliver nice audio. We also carry a splitter(Amazon) for when were we’re watching movies on a tablet, or sharing an audio guide.

These headphones are pricier than some, but they sound great and the earplug-like foam tips keeps airplane noise at bay.

If you have someone with you, a headphone splitter comes in handy.

Laptop No, Tablet Yes.

Laptops and their adapters are larger, heavier, and more costly to loose or damage than the 7 inch tablet and wireless-keyboard I carry. Yet they offer very few advantages to the international traveler. I do need a more powerful machine and a larger screen for work, but if I just want to watch videos, edit blog posts, or look up information about a destination, then a tablet is generally faster and easier to use, not to mention it can be recharged by my small mobile power bank. In the case of loss or damage, replacing my Amazon fire would also cost me a small fraction of replacing my laptop. All together, you can purchase the tablet, cover, SD card, and keyboard I use for a little over $100 total. Plus It provides for a comfortable reading experience at home.

Kindle Fire: I recommend the 16GB version(Amazon) since some apps cant be installed on the SD Card
I Download a lot of videos before each trip, and keep a lot of reference material, so I added an SD card(Amazon).
This is the cover(Amazon) I use
I have had this rechargeable Wireless Keyboard(Amazon) since I purchased my tablet. It has a metal base that allows it to stick to the magnets in the cover listed above.


Compact Camera

cameras that do not have substantial lenses do not have major advantages over modern cellphones. If you’re going to put the extra effort into using a separate camera, you’ll need to choose one that gives you something for that extra hassle. Its also important that it fit in our backpacks, so we narrow our selection down to point and shoot cameras with large collapsing lenses. If the zoom range is large enough, then the camera can also give some of the advantages of binoculars, so we would prefer that. Finally, we want to be able to take good selfies, boot up fast enough to catch candid moments, and recharge on the go via USB, since backup batteries arent always enough and we carry a power bank anyway. So we chose to carry a PowerShot SX730(Amazon)This camera has the bonus feature of being able to send photos directly to cloud services like google photos by connecting to WIFI.

Important camera features:
boot up quickly
noticeably better image quality than cellphones
Large zoom range
built in USB charger
reversible screen for selfies


The PowerShot SX730(Amazon) is similar to the 720, but features a screen that flips up for selfies and low angle shots.
A high capacity, high quality SD card(Amazon) is important, especially if you want to record video.
The case(Amazon) we chose is pretty minimalist, carrying only the camera. but it also can clip onto a belt loop or backpack strap for easy access.
We don’t use our tripod(Amazon) much, but this type is very useful when its needed.
Spare batteries(Amazon) are nice, even though the camera can be charged on the go via USB battery pack.


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