Travel tip: pack an Australian power board when travelling

By John Walton, September 14 2011
Travel tip: pack an Australian power board when travelling

Business travellers are packing more electronic devices than ever -- and the cords, wires and power adapters to go with them.

With no common charging connection yet for BlackBerrys,  iPhones, iPads, Kindles, eReaders, the wide range of Android phones and tablets, laptops, travel projectors and everything else a business traveller needs with them, keeping everything charged up is increasingly tricky.

That's especially true if your business hotel was built before the gadget revolution. Just about every business traveller has sighed to find a single power point underneath the desk in a room that's supposedly a business-level offering. That's not much use if you have five devices to charge -- one of which you use as an alarm clock on the bedside table across the room.

While some housekeeping departments keep a stock of power boards on hand for this kind of situation, if you're abroad it's unlikely they'll be the Australian style of plug.

So save luggage weight, packing space -- and the faff of trying to find an adapter for your plugs while abroad on business -- by bringing along a single universal plug adapter and an Australian power board. 

Select the plug type you need on your universal adapter, plug the power board into it, then charge away.

But when it comes time to pick the power board to bring with you, some are better than others for travelling. Here are a few things to look for:

Well-spaced power points

Take a look at the plugs on your electronics. Are you likely to be carrying any of the bulkier AC adapters that plug directly in to the power point, like this one? 

Picture: Silver

If so, make sure you pick a power board with well-spaced power points, otherwise a single big adapter will take up two or three spaces on your power board.

Cord length

Somewhere between 1.5 and 2 metres should be ample. You won't want to be scrabbling around under the desk or behind the bedside table to plug everything in, but at the same time a longer lead will get tangled up in your luggage.

Surge protection

Only you can decide whether you want to take the luggage weight hit of a larger power board with a built-in fuse for surge protection. 

Modern electronics are more resistant to small power spikes than they used to be, but there are still areas of the world where a good jolt will fry your laptop adaptor (and perhaps your laptop).


There's really no need to go overboard on cost. Pick up a power point in a homewares or hardware store rather than at an electronics or computer shop and you'll save the "made for computers" markup. 

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

...and I thought I was the only one who did this.

As for surge protection, I have a small travel one that I plug the power board into.

In KL last year it saved my gear from a dodgy power point in a hotel room.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Me too! It's one of those "...oh yeah!" tips that I just love.

What make of surge protector do you use? A friend just asked me for a recommendation for African trips this year, and it's always handy to get personal recs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Nov 2010

Total posts 60

have been traveling with a power board in the luggage for about the past six years now, the other thing I do also is to keep the travel adapter in my carry on bag, just in case of an extended delay or whatever at wherever I'm landing, has came in handy a few times while stuck waiting for delayed connecting flights

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Great tip there, jokiin! I tend to keep the adapter attached to my laptop power brick when travelling so I can top it up at the airport even if my plane has onboard power.

Sometimes the onboard power isn't working (and it's <em>always</em> my seat that's broken!), or my 17" MacBook Pro tries to suck too much juice out of the system and trips that irritating switch that can only be reset on the ground

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