July 08, 2014, 4:02 PM — With July in full swing now that Independence Day is over, thoughts are turning to company-sanctioned time off for travel and relaxing in the sun. Before you head out on your great summer vacation, you'll want to make sure you pack well not only for yourself but your laptop as well.
No matter if you're headed across the country in a VW bus or across the Atlantic on a 777, here are three critical laptop accessories no summer traveler can do without.
Adapt your laptop's power supply
Unless your international summer vacation is just a trip across the 49th parallel into Canada, you'll need to check local electrical standards at your destination. It's really annoying to find out your North American plug won't work in whatever summer paradise you're headed to.
Last minute types who don't mind paying a little more can probably find a shop in the airport that will sell you what you need or you can try and pick something up at your destination.
But you can also find out the correct adapter plug with a little research online and then head over to your local electronics shop. To get you started, check out the International Electrotechnical Commission's country-by-country listing of electrical standards.
Another option is to get an international adapter that covers most of the world's electrical needs in one device.
Most laptops can handle power all over the world. Just to be sure, check that your laptop's power brick can handle up to 240 volts of input.
For you cross-country drivers, consider getting a cigarette lighter charger or inverter as a back-up electrical source and for those odd times your passengers might want to fire up your laptop while moving or at a rest stop.
Of course, the driver should not be looking at a laptop screen while behind the wheel.
Protecting your laptop from bumps and scrapes while on the road or in the air is a must. The simplest way to keep your laptop as nick free as possible--not to mention clean--is a soft cover or bag.
You can get a case pretty much anywhere from Best Buy to Target. Personally, I always check out what's at the Apple Store. They usually have nice stuff. Even if you don't have a MacBook, you can still find something to fit your device.
Ether-what? Yes, you may be exclusively wireless at home, but on the road nothing can save your bacon better than an ethernet cable. Sometimes you end up in a hotel with a bad Wi-Fi connection or a choice between free wired Internet and paid wireless.
An ethernet cable doesn't take up too much room in your bag and you can probably even slip it into your laptop case if you need to. Just don't leave home without it.
There are probably numerous other accessories others can't live without, but these three basics are truly key for anytime you travel.
A note about the TSA
Let me also leave you with one final travel tip for those of you who haven't been keeping up with the news lately: The Transportation Security Administration says it will require security at some foreign airports to ask passengers on direct flights to the U.S. to prove their electronic devices are working by powering them on.
If your device doesn't have a charge, you'll be allowed to prove it works with a wall charger, according to The New York Times. If that doesn't work, watch out. No power means your device may have to remain behind. A powerless device could also mean more screenings for you.
To be on the safe side, and to make your security screening smoother, charge up all the batteries for your laptops, tablets, and smartphones before arriving at the airport.