We're big fans of unplugging while on vacation, but sometimes our devices just need a little juice. Especially when you're arriving in an unfamiliar place, it's good to have a communication and organizing tool at your disposal. While airports and airlines have made great strides in providing charging options in terminals – and they're continuing to invest to this end – here's how to power up when you can't find your own outlet.
1. Charge up from your laptop via USB port. Most phones have a USB cord charger that can either be plugged into a converter, or directly into a computer. Of course, this will drain your laptop's battery, but hopefully you'll reach your hotel, or at least an outlet, before you need to need to use it. If you're traveling with multiple devices, three-in-one cables are useful for de-cluttering.
2. Before you board or after you land, find a bar or restaurant and ask if they have an extra outlet that you can use. If you ask nicely, most businesses will be very accommodating.
3. Ask on the plane, very politely, if you can charge your phone in the galley area. (This should go without saying: It helps if you were already nice to your flight attendants to begin with.)
4. Gone are the days of five-pound power banks. Now, external batteries barely take up more room than a roll of cough drops. You'll find plenty in the $10-$20 range, but be sure to check out the specs if you need a super-quick charge. Different port speeds and cables make a big difference.
5. Invest in a compact extension cord or outlet splitter specifically designed for travel, which will allow you to share power with someone who's already plugged in. It's not difficult to find one for under $10, though some of the fancier ones may go for $30-$45.
6. In the hours before you fly, and as you're going through security, turn off functions that drain your battery. These include push notifications, 4G, wifi, bluetooth, or your internet connection. While doing this won't grant your battery extra power, it'll certain extend what's left. And while you're flying, airplane mode is a must.
7. Not that outlet access is as important as, say, the overall cost of the ticket, but Virgin America and Air Berlin offer USB ports at every seat, even in coach. Not flying those airlines? SeatGuru will give you the details for specific aircrafts on all airlines (see "AC Power" under Amenities in the right column).
8. If you're willing to spend the money, you can give other power-boosting mobile accessories a try. From cellphone cases with battery reserves, to solar-powered chargers, if you can think of it, it probably exists. But this is a tentative suggestion – these experiments might prove expensive.
9. In a pinch, there's always the bathroom on the plane. But please don't camp out there and hog the stall for too long (unless you're on a 15-hour flight and everyone else is asleep). And, no matter what, don't leave your phone in there and cause a bomb scare.