My Favorite Travel Accessory

I’ve been traveling a little more than usual for work lately, spending time in hotel rooms and conference rooms. As any frequent traveler knows, despite a growing dependence on power-hungry gadgets, finding easily accessible and plentiful power can still be a challenge. It blows my mind that I’ll have to crawl under beds, unplug lamps, or stretch extension cords just to keep my gadgets charged. This summer I was on my first cruise and was shocked to find that there was only one plug available in the guest room.

Thus the Monster Outlets To Go 4 Outlet Power Strip ($9.49 on Amazon) has become my favorite travel accessory. The Monster Power Strip measures about 6.25“ x 2.25”, and has a cable which extends about 12" and folds around the power strip for easy storage. It fits pretty easily in the bottom of a travel bag or stuffed inside a shoe inside my carry-on bag. While having a cable rather than an integrated plug like the popular Belkin SurgePlus adds a little extra bulk, I find that the cable allows me to use the power strip in more places or add an additional foot of length that is sometimes the difference between reaching an outlet or not.

You’d be surprised how many friends you make when you’re the only one in the room with access to power. When attending a conference, I try to get there early so I can scope out a good seat. My qualifications are 1) good visibility, 2) an easy escape route, and 3) access to power. The last bit is not always easy. I’ve learned over the years to “think like a janitor” and look along the walls and floors for possible access to outlets. At a conference I attended last week the room was configured such that the tables were all grouped near the center of the room, making access to any of the power outlets along the walls impossible. I did find one lone power port hidden under a false panel in the floor and claimed it. I plugged my laptop into one outlet of my power strip and quickly made three new friends and business contacts who had depleted batteries. Even when I arrive late and find the power outlets taken, I find if I bring a power strip, people are willing to let me unplug their devices and plug in my strip to add additional ports.

The plugs on the Monster Outlets To Go are nicely spaced so they’ll accommodate even larger plugs. I always travel with my Kanex DoubleUp (reviewed here) to keep my iPad and iPhone charged and it’s a little wider than the average power brick but still has no trouble fitting. The plug also has a blue light that will let you know the power is flowing. Some may find the light annoying, but I’ve had an occasion or two where I thought a device was charging, but wasn’t because I hadn’t turned on a switch to activate power to an outlet.

If you prefer something with USB charging built in, Monster also makes a 3-outlet version with an integrated USB port. The USB version delivers 1000mA according to Monster’s website, (though one Amazon reviewer claims to have measured it at 1500mA) which is standard for charging and iPhone and will charge an iPad, though at slower speeds. Because I tend to charge multiple USB devices in addition to other gadgets, I prefer the flexibility of the 4-outlet unit and use it in conjunction with my DoubleUp and/or the Twelve South PlugBug which attaches to my notebook’s power adapter and gives me a 10w USB charging port.

I don’t function well without my electronics and in a world where power is…well…power, having the Monster Outlets To Go 4 Outlet Power Strip in my bag has been invaluable. I’ve bought several as gifts and even keep a few extra in various bags to make sure I’m never without.

This article first appeared in the February 2014 Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at