This little series of posts looks at the most efficient way to travel with your Apple devices. I am on the road often, flying across Europe and doing the odd trip to the US. When I travel I like to keep things light, but functional. Over the past 10 years I have learned many lessons and have incrementally improved by electronic travel setup. These posts cover aspects of my setup and those of fellow nerds.
Starting a new post series typically asks for a big opener. But since this series is not about ‘big’ but about ‘light’ I decided to start with the most unobtrusive element which also represents my latest addition of my setup: The Power Supply.
For many years I carried around the standard MacBook power brick as well as iPhone/iPad charger. While Apple has — as you would expect — the most thoughtful designed power supplies and you can actually use your iPad 3/4 charger to connect your iPhone as well, I still had to carry around two power supplies.
Travelling into different countries also requires me to carry the different adapter plugs for the wall outlets with me. I purchased Apple’s World Travel Kit many years ago and it solves the issue along with the above mentioned, thoughtfully designed power supply nicely. When Apple moved to ship the smaller, cheaper and less flexible power adapters for it’s iOS devices I was quite happy to still have the 12W USB charger that came with my original iPad 1 around. This one supports the interchangeable adapter plugs. Luckily you can still buy it separately today.
Three problems remained: Two power supplies to carry around, only one set of international adapter plugs and my tendency to lose things (cables, adapter plugs and even entire power supplies). While there is only so much I can do about leaving things behind, I was thrilled to see when one of my favourite Apple accessory makers, twelveSouth, came out with a solution to my first two problems: The PlugBug.
Initially only available as a US version, I grabbed the recently released PlugBug World in an instant. The PlugBug can be used with most (if not all) Apple laptop power supplies and slides into the space of the adapter plug.
It adds a USB charger to your standard power supply and therefore replaces your extra iPhone/iPad power adapter. The USB port of the PlugBug allows you to use any standard USB cable for charging (e.g. 30 Pin, Lighting) and obviously also allows you to charge non-Apple devices that charge via USB like cameras (just make sure the power specifications are compatible!).
The trick of the PlugBug World (and only the World version) is that is ships with five international adapter plugs (US/Canada/Japan, Continental Europe, UK/Hong Kong/Singapore, China, Australia/New Zealand) using the same interchangeable principle as Apple does in his power supply design. Actually Apple’s adapter plugs fit on the PlugBug, but do not match the nice red colour of it.
Since the PlugBug supplies 2.1-Amp of power it also charges your iOS devices much faster than your MacBook USB ports would. It even charges my iPad mini about twice as fast as the power adapter that Apple ships with it,
If you only need to charge your iOS device or a compatible USB device you can also use the very red PlugBug on its one since you can slide a little cover over the connection that is used to connect to the MacBook power supply.
Even though the plastic used in the PlugBug feels a little less solid than Apple’s and the little pouch that comes with the power adapter is made of rather odd and cheapish material, the PlugBug World is an extremely useful addition to my travel setup for 45 US$.
For anyone travelling internationally I can highly recommend the PlugBug World and even in the US alone the slightly cheaper PlugBug (35 US$) saves you from carrying extra (iOS) power adapters around.