Techie Abroad: Keeping your devices powered whilst travelling is a real challenge

Whilst waiting for my train at the main railway station in Rome, the world had came to a complete stop. My various devices beeped for the last time and then there was silence. It was then that I have realised something so obvious that I am surprised that we don’t pay more attention to it:  we are so engrossed in the “who is winning the mobile phone war” and “who has the best/ thinnest/ fastest gadget” that we forget that these devices all rely on one single component – power. No Power = no usage. An old Nokia 3310 that can make phone calls trumps the latest iPhone with a dead battery.

When you consider the advancement in technology, the battery in comparison has not evolved by leaps and bounds. It still holds small amount of power, it still takes ages to charge and is still very expensive. The battery is the weakest link in our devices and yet we depend on it as a critical portable power source. In fact the main reason we don’t all have electric cars today is because of the battery.

As I sit on the train shooting through the Italian country side at over 250km per hour, I am plugged in and able to charge everyone’s devices with the conveniently provided socket located between the seats. And just like that, peace returns to the land as my wife and the kids are BBMing their friends and I am free to Blog.

Whenever I travel, I always ensure that I have sufficient chargers for every device. A task made significantly easier with the standardisation of the microUSB charging socket. As long as the chargers are sufficiently rated for the device these can be used interchangeably however make sure you read my article about universal charges to safeguard your device.

I also carry with me portable power in the form of the BlackBerry Emergency Charger which has the benefit of being able to charge any microUSB device and also comes with a spare battery for my Z10 and there is one for my wife’s Q10. This little device has saved me on many occasions when power is illusive when being out of the hotel from 9am and returning to the hotel past midnight.

BlackBerry Emergency Charger

As I have hired a car on my travels, I would highly recommend a cigarette-socket-charger. Resist the urge to buy one that is cheap and nasty but rather invest in one that has the ability to charge multiple devices via multiple USB cables. This comes in handy to top up power on those long autostrada drives between major cities.

microUSB car charger

One thing that Italy has a lot of is sunny days. But unlike sunny South Africa, they have embraced their sunny-disposition and have harnessed the power of the sun by making Solar Panels cheaply available. These solar panels are everywhere around the countryside powering up everything from street lights at the most remote points of the Amalfi Coast to powering the most essential element of Italian living- the coffee vending machines in the cities.  Power from the sun is free once you invest in the technology to harness it. As long as the sun shines, you have free electricity for life.

With our struggling power grid, I wonder how long before South Africa government makes it mandatory for any building permit to be granted that a solar panel forms part of the construction?

Solar powered lightsSolar powered vending machinesSolar powered homesSolar powered petrol stationsSolar powered petrol stations

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