Light packing tip: minimize the chargers

I was having a friendly conversation the other day with some people about the various electronic gadgets that they pack on vacation.  It’s quite surprising what people consider “essential” when it comes to this category of items in particular.

People have to have a laptop computer when they’re vacationing.  Absolutely must have it.  Why I ask?  To check work and personal email, watch movies, upload and edit photos each evening in the hotel room.  I don’t feel the need or desire to do any of that stuff when I’m trying to rest my brain, but to each his own I guess.  I do sometimes throw on a movie while vacationing, but if I want to watch something, most hotels have a TV with a good assortment of channels.  I can usually find something and don’t need a computer for this purpose.

People have to have a gigantic full frame DSLR camera, a similarly sized backup camera just in case the first one malfunctions, half a dozen spare batteries, and a 15 pound bag of lenses.  All of a sudden you have a camera bag that weighs 3x more than my entire luggage.  Hell no.

People have to have a portable charger/power bank.  Not very big, but they are dense and very heavy relative to size.  One of my regular travel buddies carries one of these around to keep his cell phone charged.  Because he’s on his phone all the time draining the battery.  Solution:  put the damn phone away and enjoy your present company and the surroundings of wherever you happen to be.  I received one of these things at an office gift exchange a few years back and it promptly went in the Goodwill pile.

One useful metric I use to determine whether or not I really need to pack something is if the item requires its own charging device.  If it does, then I spend extra time considering whether or not I truly need it.

Having to charge stuff is a pain in the ass.  It takes a lot of time, it’s cumbersome, you occasionally have to worry about running out of juice at an inopportune time, and if you’re leaving the country, you frequently need a bag full of plug adapters as well.  This is one of the reasons why I sold my iPad after owning it for just a few years; it was just one more thing of marginal utility that I needed to mentally keep track of and topped up from a charging standpoint.

For the last few years, I’ve intentionally pared down the items in my luggage requiring electronic charging.  On many trips, the only charger I carry is one for my cell phone.  Fortunately, the iPhone charger is relatively small and unobtrusive.  The only other device I sometimes carry that requires its own charger is a digital camera.  I previously traveled with multiple cameras (sometimes up to 4 not including my phone!), and keeping track of all those batteries and chargers was a royal annoyance.  Now I limit myself to just one camera depending on what I think I’m going to need.  Usually it’s either my Sony RX1 or Ricoh GR.  In the unlikely event that my camera breaks down, then I still have my iPhone XS as a competent backup.

So at the most, I carry around two chargers.  Much better than traveling with a phone charger, laptop charger, Kindle charger, iPad charger, razor charger, DSLR camera charger, and a heavy portable power bank in case any of the above runs out of energy when you have no access to a power outlet.  I’ve seen many people who vacation with all of these things, and it looks ridiculous.  And most of it is unnecessary.


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