Label your chargers, stay in charge: Packing tip

Do you panic about leaving a phone charger behind in a hotel room? Do your hands get clammy when you have a jumble of chargers cords in your carry-on bag, but can’t find the right one? I solved the tangled cord problem by using colored twist ties, electrical tape, or sticky labels.

I save twist ties from bags of bread/bagels in a small ZipLoc bag in my silverware drawer in the kitchen. As I buy cell phones, I label the phone charger cables with a twist tie. My phone has a red twist tie while my husband’s phone has a green one. My teen’s charger cord is yellow while the tween’s is blue. When we arrive at a hotel, I will unravel the charger cables we need, so the phone can be placed on the desk in the hotel room while charging. I use the twist tie to secure the remaining charger cable to prevent the phone from slipping to the floor. At the end of our trip, the charger cables are easy to spot because of the colored twist tie.

For larger charger cables, such as though for digital/video cameras and laptops, I use a piece of colored electrical tape or a sticky label. I buy electrical tape, which is about 0.5″ wide and is red or blue. I write the name of the device on the label on the charger cable. Many laptop charger cables come with an attached velcro or plastic tie, which helps to prevent tangled cords in a carry-on bag.

[Photo: Flickr | A. Germain]

Borrow a charger from the front desk – Hotel tip

For every person who forgets their charger at home, another person leaves their charger in their room at checkout.

If you go down to the desk and ask nicely, they might offer you a big box of left-behind cords to sort through for a charger that fits your phone, computer, or whatever.

This saves money and time better spent having fun, and if you don’t care about paying it forward to the next forgetful traveler, you can usually keep the abandoned charger.

Also ask about international electricity adapters if in need– they’ll almost always be able to accommodate you there.

[Photo: Flickr | Gary Bridgman]

Ask Gadling – how can I reduce the number of chargers I carry on a trip?

This week’s “Ask Gadling” question comes from Tim, who reached out on Twitter for some help on how to reduce the number of chargers he carries when he travels. Thankfully, I’m a bit of a charger nut, so I’ve been on a similar quest for many years.

Of course, the increase in the number of chargers we carry is related to the number of gadgets we travel with. Ten years ago, most people probably carried a mobile phone and a portable CD player. Nowadays, it isn’t unthinkable to travel with a mobile phone, game console, Bluetooth headset, portable DVD player, MP3 player, digital camera and more. And thanks to the efforts of consumer electronics producers, almost every gadget comes with its own specific charger plug.

Thankfully, there are products out there that can lighten your load and turn you into a single charger traveler.Step 1 – Identify your needs

View more Ask Gadling: Travel Advice from an Expert or send your question to ask [at] gadling [dot] com.

Check all your chargers for duplicates – as more gadgets switch to similar connectors, you may be able to reduce the number you carry just by sharing between products. In some cases, your mobile phone may use the same charger as your headset.

When you go over your chargers, pay close attention to more than just the plug – the voltage settings are also important, and some devices may have special requirements, so be sure your replacement charger matches the requirements of both devices.

Make the move to USB

Most gadgets are relatively lower power devices – making them perfect for charging using USB cables. Everything from your Nintendo DS to your mobile phone can be charged using a simple (and lightweight) USB cable. When searching for a USB cable, find one as short as possible – just keep in mind that your gadget may have to hang from a charger in the wall.

Your final objective is to have a USB charging cable for each of your gadgets – and be able to leave dedicated chargers at home. Every charger that can only charge one product is something you don’t want to carry.

A good example of a simple short cable set is the Griffin kit pictured above, and mentioned here on Gadling earlier this month.

Replace your laptop charger with a lighter version that offers USB charging

When identifying your chargers, don’t forget to find a better alternative for your laptop charger. Many of these chargers are bulky, and can be replaced by much smaller versions. Best of all, some of these new lighter laptop chargers also offer USB charger ports – with this, you can turn two chargers into just one. In addition to be being much lighter, these chargers also work with interchangeable tips – so if you switch laptop brand in a few years, you just swap out the tip and it’ll be good to go on your new machine.

Some reliable smaller laptop chargers come from Innergie, Targus, Kensington and Igo. Another important feature of these chargers is that some come delivered with car/air plugs as well as AC/wall.

Find a 4-in-1 USB charger

OK – so not everyone travels with four mobile phones, but a 4-in-1 USB charger can of course charge more than just phones. When I travel, I carry a Kensington 4-port USB charger. Each port is capable of charging up to 500mAh, so my devices charge in about the same speed as their original. If I need a speedier charge, I’ll plug two devices in at the same time, instead of four.

When four ports is not enough…

Alright, so you already know you are a bit of a freak – you need to charge six devices at the same time, and would prefer to do so without carrying six different chargers? For you my friend, there is the Chargepod by Callpod.

The Chargepod is a single charge capable of charging six devices at the same time. Best of all, the Chargepod offers charging tips for almost every mobile gadget every designed – and it starts at just $39.95 for a kit.

To make the kit even better, the power tips that fit the Chargepod also fit the Callpod Fueltank battery packs – which means you only need to invest in power adapters once to get yourself a power system that works with or without outlets.

If you already know that your power needs will continue to grow, the investment in a Chargepod and Fueltank won’t cost more than $100, and will have you set for years to come.

Daily deal – Kensington 120W universal AC laptop adapter for $30

My daily deal for today is for a Kensington laptop AC adapter. This device can deliver laptop power up to 120W, making it idea for most machines, including those that require a little extra juice, like 17″ laptops.

The adapter comes with power tips for Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, Gateway and Acer laptop computers.

A charger like this is idea if you need a cheap replacement or spare power adapter for your laptop. The Kensington 120W universal AC laptop adapter is on sale at for just $30, and comes with free shipping. Of course, with a price this low you do need to know that the charger has been refurbished, which means it was once returned to the vendor, but has been returned to its “as new” condition.

At a price this low, I can highly recommend picking one up and keeping it around, “just in case”. Laptop adapters are often one of the things people tend to forget at their hotel, and an original replacement adapter for most laptops can cost as much as $100.

The new Callpod Fueltank is twice as nice to your gadgets

In a previous review, I introduced you to the Chargepod. The company behind that fantastic 6-in-1 charger has now developed a portable battery pack that looks equally impressive.

The Fueltank can charge 2 devices at the same time and uses the same charger adapters as on the Chargepod.

At just $59.95 it is in line with the price of most portable power packs, but of course has the added benefit of offering twice the power!

The purchase price includes the device itself, an AC/DC wall plug, one Mini USB adapter, a carrying pouch, and a coupon for a free adapter of your choice.

The Fueltank will be available soon, and you can register your interest in this device directly on the Callpod site.

As soon as I can get my hands on one, I’ll get you a full review, but on paper, this look like a real winner.