Travel Tip: Medusa Extension Cord

I got this tip from the great Bruce Dale when we went on Mikkel Aaland’s Lightroom Adventure book project in Tasmania. Bruce worked for more than 30 years as a National Geographic staff photographer.  He is known for pulling off really difficult technical feats as well great road and travel stories.

If you are headed to a place with a different electrical plug shape than your home country you can make a cord like this to add convenience and save a considerable amount of weight and bulk. Basically, it’s a couple of standard power cords cut and soldiered to a standard extension cord. This configuration can power up to 6 devices, which can be essential for battery charging.

It’s particularly valuable in a country where the plug adapters are as bulky as the ones in South Africa.

Here is the multi cord at work in Richmond,  South Africa. It is charging my US phone, my International phone, Lumix, D7000 and D700 camera battery chargers and AA battery chargers, as well as my laptop. (You can also see DJ Clark’s phone in the photo, but I have obviously not mastered the art of light travel the way he has).

These chargers are all low-power-draw devices, so there’s no issue about overloading a circuit by having all these plugged in at the same time.

One note of caution – make sure that the chargers and other devices you use overseas are all rated for the voltage and Hz of the local power.  It will be written somewhere on the charger – often in very tiny type. Most modern power supplies are auto-switching dual-voltage, and handle this without any intervention on your part.  If they don’t, however, you will be pretty unhappy.

A second caution: I have worn out the solder joints on this cord once already as it has made its way around the world. In particular, a lot of stress is placed on the wires just past the end of the solder as I curl it up. It pays to inspect the cord under the electrical tape every now and then so it does not fail in the field.