A message thread on our site got me thinking about a very practical problem I face when traveling.
Let's say that I am carrying my laptop for business, a tablet or e-reader for entertainment, and my cellphone for the usual purposes. After a five-hour flight, I have a layover, and I need to charge any or all of these devices. Has anyone else had to walk the length of the airport terminal to find an available outlet?
I bring this up because I have been holding off on buying a tablet or e-reader. (Several of my colleagues jokingly accuse me of being anti-tablet.) My colleague Bolaji Ojo has made compelling arguments in favor of his new smartphone. I am beginning to be swayed in that direction for the following reason: Charging devices at many airports is a logistical nightmare. Heaven forbid my phone, laptop, and e-reader need to be charged at the same time. Is there a universal charger for this dilemma?
In particular — and please don't think I am anti-Apple, as well — the adaptors that iPhone/iPad owners use usually cover both sockets of a two-socket outlet. The folks using these outlets usually have headphones/ear buds on. Is it acceptable to ask them to replug their device so the second outlet is open? Or do you keep on moving? (I usually opt for the latter.)
I know there are charging stations at many airports, and they are always a relief. The downside is that most of them are stand-up stations (minus chairs), possibly to discourage idling. Depending on the length of my layover, I might want to eat, email, check my voice messages, make a phone call, and catch up on my reading. I prefer to sit through at least some of these events. (I have had some brutal layovers, but I fly from satellite airports. Time to change that strategy.)
Occasionally, I have been lucky enough to find an outlet outside a food kiosk with a café table. But this is still the exception, rather than the rule.
As a result, I'm still reading paperback books, at least when I travel. Many airports have a “read and return” program where you can trade in your used book for a discount or credit. This actually works for me. I am a very fast reader, and I have been known to finish a book between Boston and Chicago, turn it in for a second book, and put a dent in that book on the way to the West Coast.
For certain excursions, I am beginning to look at train schedules. But my next trip is actually to an island. Suggestions/tips are welcome.