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.
Power is a scarce resource when travelling and by Murphy's Law there never is a power outlet when you need one. No matter how advanced your power plug is. While airports have improved when it comes to publicly accessible power outlets – often in the form of recharging stations around which people tend to gather like around a fireplace – you still face moments where there is no power when you need it.
I spend some time on the phone when travelling to maximise the time on the go. When not talking to people, I do have the bad habit of checking and responding to email when sitting and waiting somewhere which, by the way, is still a significant element in modern travel.
Ever since I have an iPhone I can testify that you can drain the battery in much less than a day, independent of how much improvements Apple brought to the batteries over the years. Hence I first got myself a Mophie Juice Pack Air (for my iPhone 4/4S) at the time. If the iPhone is the only mobile device for which you need emergency power, I can highly recommend this case-like battery pack. Mophie has ever since improved its line-up of iPhone battery cases and they seem to become slimmer yet more powerful every year. The iPhone 5 Juice Pack Helium definitely looks great and the specs read well.
If you have more devices that could do with a power bump while you are between places, I suggest the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation. I use it mainly to recharge my iPad Mini, but occasionally also for my Sony RX100 camera. Equipped with 4000mAh it charges the iPhone 5 twice, but even after charging my iPad Mini there seem to be enough electrons left for a 70% iPhone 5 charge. At least that is my experience.
When I am off the grid, in the true sense of the word, the Powerstation has served me well. Being in a hut in the Alps for a few days without any power is difficult if all your reading material is on a tablet. This was only one of the occasions when I was really grateful for my little extra power at roughly the size of a 2.5" external hard disk.
You can recharge the Powerstation (like all Mophie batteries) via USB, either thru your MacBook's USB port – which takes a bit longer – or via an appropriate power plug such as the TwelveSouth PlugBug I covered earlier in the Mac Traveling series. The Powerstation has a LED indicator that tells you its current charging level. Be careful when you leave it for a longer time unused in your bag as it does lose power over time even when just sitting idle and you'll miss it when you need it. I, of course, have a repeating OmniFocus tasks reminding me to recharge the Powerstation.
By now there is a variety of choices when it comes to external batteries. I still love the solutions Mophie provides and by now their line-up of battery cases and external battery options is pretty comprehensive. It's definitely an essential asset to my Mac travel setup and I hope you see how with power plug, cables and batteries this setup is coming together.