How to Keep Your Mobile Devices Charged when You’re on the Go!

Q. Help! I’m headed out on vacation with my family and I’m worried about keeping all of our devices charged. We have all kinds of phones, iPads and some Kindles and they’ll all be dead weight if they don’t have power. What do you recommend for charging these on the go?

A. You may have the best mobile device in the world, but it’s nothing more than a paperweight if it runs out of power. Keeping your gadgets juiced when you’re on the go is important but challenging. You want to be sure that you have power when you need it so you’re not stranded or unpleasantly surprised when your device runs out of battery.

These tech accessories will help you stay charged when you’re on the go and help make sure that you’re never out of power when you need it the most. They’ll also help you avoid fights over which person in the family gets to charge their device first.

Travel Surge Protector

Hotel rooms, cruise ship cabins, airport terminals and other travel spots rarely have sufficient outlets for your power needs. Make the most of your outlet options with a mini surge protector that doubles as a power strip.

No need to fight over who gets to power up their device first, up to five devices can be charged at once with the Satechi Slim Surge Protector. This travel surge protector has three outlets for power plugs and two USB ports to keep you charged.

The Satechi Slim Surge Protector is available from Amazon for $18.99.

ChargeCard

Keep a cord handy at all times with the ChargeCard. This credit-card-sized accessory is a power cord with a USB plug on one side and a plug for your mobile device on the other. Pop this in your wallet to keep it handy for charging wherever you go.

This card not only functions as a power cord, you can also use it to sync and transfer data.

The ChargeCard is a former Kickstarter project that is now available for the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as for Android devices. (Note that the Android ChargeCard will work with other devices that use a mini USB connector.) The ChargeCard for the iPhone 5 is available for pre-order to ship on June 25 (tomorrow).

You can get your ChargeCard from the ChargeCard website for $25 with free worldwide shipping.

Spare Battery Packs

No matter how much you load up your device with apps, movies, music and videos, you won’t be able to use it for much if your battery dies. Keep a spare battery handy for those times when you’re away from an outlet, or you use more juice than you had planned.

My favorite spare battery packs:

  • indicate how much charge is left in the pack
  • let you use your own charge cords so you can connect any device

Make sure you take the right cords so you don’t have to worry about buying one on the go. Devices generally use one of three types of connectors:

  • Mini USB — Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Kindle
  • 30 Pin —  iPhone 4S, iPad 3, iPod Touch 4 and earlier iDevices
  • Lightning — iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad Mini and iPod Touch 5

The iPad 3 and 4, with their Retina display screens and powerful batteries, are not easily charged by a spare battery pack. Try to start out with a fully charged iPad so you’re not left stranded.

Rose Stone Extended Battery

The Rose Stone Extended Battery allows you to charge two devices at once and use your own cords, making this battery pack a versatile choice. This battery has indicator lights showing you how much charge is available.

The battery weighs 5.1 ounces which, while light for the power it provides, makes it a bit heavy to carry around daily in your pocket or purse. The pack comes with a carrying bag and is available in multiple colors.

The Rose Stone is available for $69.00 from Amazon.

WakaWaka Solar Powered Charger

Harness solar power to juice up your device. Let this battery pack soak up the sun and convert those rays into extending the charge on your phone. The WakaWaka Power is a combination solar charger and lamp. After 8 hours in the sun, the WakaWaka can power your phone in about 2 hours and still have enough charge to shine its lamp all night.

WakaWaka is a former Kickstarter project and the company donates free solar chargers to those living in areas where electricity is not available.

This video shows how WakaWaka works:

Keep the WakaWaka on a windowsill or on your dashboard to keep it charged for when you need it.

WakaWaka is available in black or yellow for $65.00 from Amazon or from the WakaWaka website for orders outside the US.

Emergency Hand Crank Charger

If you get stuck without any power source nearby, you may need to create your own charge. The Eton Red Cross Clipray emergency hand crank charger may be able to bail you out of a tight spot by using your own muscles. Even if you’re a bodybuilder, don’t count on this to take you from a dead device to a fully charged one, but it may give you enough juice for what you need.

This charger also has a flashlight making it very useful when you run out of power unexpectedly.

The Eton Red Cross Clipray is available from Amazon for $14.98.

Your Thoughts

Have you ever run out of power when you’re on the go? What do you use to keep your devices charged? Let us know in the Comments section below!

** Power line image by Peter Kaminski

Comments

  1. Johan Bengtsson says

    I do not recommend anyone to buy a hand crank charger. Tried one and you need to keep at it for a really long time before you get any charging at all. Get a portable battery pack instead.

  2. says

    Yes, I certainly have had the dead phone experience, more than once! I just got a new Samsung 4. Plan to buy the backup battery. These other ideas are welcome. I like the hand cranker idea – after living through Hurricane Sandy, I’ve learned how useful this could be (assuming cell phones still can reception from somewhere).

    Ah, I just read in a comment: ” Get a portable battery pack instead.” – OK, will do.
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    • says

      Hi Leora, True, with many phones you can get a spare battery but I prefer external battery packs because they can charge a variety of devices. If you get a spare battery then that will only work with your model phone.

      A hand crank battery is for emergencies, not as a primary source of power. Johan is right, it won’t give you much juice. But when you’re left with no other options, a hand crank battery may be extremely useful.

      The WakaWaka wasn’t available when Hurricane Sandy hit, but would have been a very handy item to power devices then.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Tag! You’re It! All About #HashtagsMy Profile

  3. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I was travelling and forgot my cell phone charger. I asked at the hotel whether they might have a charger. The desk clerk brought a huge box of chargers that guests had left behind and said “Have at it” .

    Riley

  4. Pramod says

    Not many people would like my strategy of keeping the mobile phone off for most of the and turning it on after certain time intervals while travelling :P . Anyways , out of all the tools you’ve mentioned the wakawaka charger has certainly made me to search for more info on it as i’ve never heard of a mobile charger depending upon the sun to charge your mobile.

    Regards,
    pramod

    • says

      Hi Pramod, Yes, there are many ways to conserve battery power with mobile devices and keeping the power off is a very effective one. I should do an article about conserving battery power.

      But when you’re low on power you might need to get help charging your phone when you’re away from home. These tech accessories will help you get a charge on the go.

      The WakaWaka is very useful to keep charged using the power of the sun. Charge it all day and then power your device at night.
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  5. says

    Great info Carolyn, I just visited my Verizon store over the weekend and they wanted to sell me a new charger for $99. These seem to do more for less money. I have a go-charger which I loved but only goes for about another 4-6 hours. I’m going on vacation in October and need more power than that. I may may go with your spare battery pack. Thanks for sharing these!
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    • says

      Hi Lisa, Yes, it’s best to research charging devices to make sure that the one you get meets your needs. I wish the Rosa Stone were a bit lighter to keep in my purse all the time but then the battery power wouldn’t be as strong. I prefer having a strong battery so I only take the Rosa Stone along when I need it.

      I’m glad you’ll be prepared for your trip, Lisa!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Best of The Wonder of Tech: Top 100 Articles (So Far)My Profile

  6. says

    Hi Carolyn,
    I love the Handcrank charger! The solar one is pretty sensible too – but if your camping vacation is not sunny, you’re cursed in two ways :o
    I had bought my dad a cool crank radioi/siren/flaslhlight with a charger in it. Maybe I’ll borrow that for our camping trip! I love the idea of adding the energy myself!
    Nice share Carolyn, as always!
    Lori
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  7. Margie says

    I just used a Switch8 from Goal Zero to charge my iPhone 5. Their Guide10 product also does the same job. Only $40 for each product. They also have a solar charger so you don’t even need the wall outlet.

  8. Hajra says

    I got the Lumia 720 recently. And people are telling me to get the wireless charging pillow because I might need it when I am on vacation. Still haven’t decided on whether I should or not – I usually unplug on vacations! :)

    Lots of options here!

    • says

      Hi Frank, You’re right, the ChargeCard is about as convenient as you can get. Just slip it into your wallet and have it handy when you need it.

      I think the ChargeCard would be especially useful for people who have Apple iDevices that use the Lightning cables. You can’t find Lightning connectors as many places as you can the 30 pin and mini USB connectors. Having a ChargeCard in your wallet would be extra handy then!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Tag! You’re It! All About #HashtagsMy Profile

  9. Stephanie Stewart says

    With two teens and two tech addicted parents all having a phone, iPad and a computer we travel with a full 8 point power strip!

  10. says

    Those are so cool Carolyn!

    I wouldn’t even have thought about this but I remember a few years back when I saw Sergio’s first video. He was in Europe I think and was trying to plug some things in and found out that the outlets were all different. He had to run to the store to get some type of adapter so he could plug all his equipment in. I’ll never forget that and it’s stuck with me to this day.

    Not that I travel a lot but these are really cool little devices and I’m sure we all need to get a couple for when the time comes.

    Thank you as always for sharing these cool things with us. Necessities for our necessities! lol…

    ~Adrienne
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    • says

      Hi Adrienne, Yes, I almost included a power adaptor for international travel, but I couldn’t find the one I liked online. I found when living in Europe that European airports had my favorite ones.

      I like the kinds that can adapt any kind of plug to any kind of outlet. There wasn’t a point of getting just a US/UK adaptor. Better to have flexibility!

      Even if you’re just out and about for the day you still might need an external battery if you become a heavy user of your new iPhone, Adrienne! I’m generally near an outlet or in my car if I’m away from home unless I travel so I only use these when I’m traveling. But others may be away from energy sources during the day and need the extra juice!
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  11. Mohammad ismail says

    wow this is really awesome post,, because many time we left our charger, so such type of thing will help us more in such situation

  12. says

    Thanks for the great tips! I bought the Satechi surge protector for our next trip.

    I also bought this pretty cool device … It’s a car charger by Energizer. It has pretty decent reviews to thought I’d give it a try.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATXEPQI/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    We are driving lots of miles and I will be using my iPhone GPS so needed something portable to keep it charged. What do you think of this one?
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  13. gregory urbano says

    great list, love the hand crank! solar is noce too but the price of the crank is low and as long as your hands can move you have power!

  14. Lovejeet says

    Thanks for this great post . my s3 use to drain too much battery on 3g mode . It was getting really irritating while travelling . I will get a Spare Battery Pack today .

    Regards
    lovejeet

    • says

      Hi Lovejeet, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m very glad you found this helpful. You’re right, sometimes phone batteries drain much more quickly than you realize and then you could be stuck in a bad spot. Yes, you could buy a spare battery for your S3, but then you wouldn’t have the flexibility of being able to charge other devices. Best to get an external battery pack you can use with many devices.
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  15. says

    Hi Caorlyn,

    These are some really cool charger gears to use. The problem is that we don’t need them until we really need them :D. I guess at that time we are reminded how essential the battery life is .
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  16. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’ve been meaning to read this for days. Simon was charging his Android phone in my car, but keeps blowing fuses on the leads. The phone is a lot lower voltage though. I also took off with my sat nav lead! It is a problem keeping things charged. I have spare batteries for my Fujifilm camera, but I have to keep charging the battery for the Nikon in between outings. I’ll have to get a spare.

    The new pictures are on a zillion ideas! I’m reorganising my blog posts yet again!
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    • says

      Hi Mike, Yes, exactly. The more gadgets we have the more charging issues arise. Having flexibility with charging could make your life much simpler. Your photography trips would be wasted if your camera battery dies.

      I’ll be over to A Zillion Ideas too. I wanted to stop by yesterday but the article I was writing took much more time than I anticipated! I always look forward to your Neodigital lessons each week. :-bd
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  17. says

    I am happy to say I have never ran out of battery power. I make sure every night that my mobile devices are charged. I always keeps a charger in my car. I sell many different chargers so I am covered. I need my phone and Ipad available so I am always in touch with the office. Running out of power is not an option for me.

  18. Apprendre la voile says

    I’am usuallu trying to “save the battery” when i’am on the go but sometimes i’am out of it … Spare batteries are useful but it take place and weight in the bag… When i’am on my motor bike, or when i’am sailing, solar charger are just terrific. Thank you for this listing, i didn’t know about the wakawaka and my solar charger need to be replaced :)
    Regards
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  19. Karan says

    I was never aware about these devices. I am an Android lover, but one thing in which Android sucks is its battery life.
    I am surely gonna buy one of these devices soon. thanks for sharing.
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