Travel Power Bank Recommendations: Avoid the Dire Travel Consequences of a Dead Phone Battery!

by  Mose Hayward
LAST UPDATED ON  2023-10-16
PUBLISHED ON  2023-10-16

Your Guide

Mose Hayward

Juiced Vagabond

Running out of battery on the road is, frankly, a crisis. I’m not exaggerating. As travelers, our phones provide lots of conveniences that we’ve come to depend on—in particular, they have our maps to get to that weird little street we’re staying on and also, often, even access codes to get in. Some AirBnBs even use keyless mobile phone links to unlock the door.

Yes, I have been locked out.

And yes, since then, I always travel with a backup battery.

I have been carrying the same Anker backup battery for years now and it is holding up exceptionally well. My particular model is no longer available and is supplanted by newer, faster ones, which is what I’ll recommend for you below, because this brand tends to last not just for myself but for many other travelers, testers, and reviewers. Anker also has a long history of good follow-up on its warranties.

There are also a few other travel batteries below worth considering for specific use cases.

Why We Must Travel with a Power Bank!

The advantages to carrying a spare battery, aside from the intro problem I mentioned about not running out of juice and getting locked out or lost without our phones:

  • Often we carry our train, bus and plane tickets in digital-only versions in our phones, so we can’t continue our journey without a charge.
  • Public USB charge points are a potential hacking risk; it’s safer to protect our data by charging from our own batteries.
  • In many AirBnbs in places like Latin America, and in hostels anywhere in the world, there are not enough outlets to charge devices or they are not conveniently located, and so charging from a large-capacity battery for a night or two is much more convenient.
  • We can be a life-saver for friends and other travelers who are less well-prepared.

Going Minimalist with a Combo Laptop/Phone Charger and Battery

You have to carry a wall charger in any case so why not have a device that serves as both a charging plug and a backup battery while traveling? The one option I’ve found that does this well is the Anker 45W Wall Charger/Battery, which is also sold directly from Anker as the Anker 521 PowerCore Fusion Power Bank.

While plugged into the wall, it has 45W charging, which is fine for fast-charging most USB-C laptops as well as phones and tablets. It also recharges its internal battery when plugged in.

If the power goes out, there’s a lack of easily accessible outlets (happens a lot in Mexico, where I’m staying as I write this), or you’re in a train or overnight bus or otherwise away from outlets, this Anker charger doubles as a power bank and recharges two USB-C devices at 20W (fast charging is still possible but it is not as quick in this mode).

The battery capacity is 5,000 mAh, enough to fully recharge many phones, such as an iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy S22. (There are certainly good options with bigger capacities as discussed below, but this is more than enough for most emergency uses on the road.)

Crucially for travelers, it plugs into the various voltages you will meet in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere, accepting inputs of 110-240V. The plug is USA style with two flat prongs, so you will simply need a plug adapter for the local plugs: a universal travel plug adapter like these we reviewed is always a good idea.

It’s .44 pounds / 200 grams and fits in the palm, so it’s likely not larger or heavier than most laptop charger bricks/cables you’d otherwise have to carry anyway.

Anker says that its battery capacity only goes up to 90% after 500 cycles; this reduced capacity at that point helps the battery last for longer. It’s an admirable way to help the product last and not so quickly become electronic waste.

A Large-Capacity Backup Battery for Travel

To truly be ready for days away from power, be prepared with the Anker 40K 30W USB-C Power Bank. It’ll recharge a whole laptop a couple of times and a modern mobile phone 7-9 times.

It can charge four devices at once (two via USB-A and two via USB-C). The 30W USB-C charging is very fast; plenty for most devices.

Your mileage will vary, but I’ve used an older model of this battery for years now and it continues to work great and keep me juiced on those long day-and-a-half adventures switching continents or on arriving at a spot without a convenient place to plug into the wall.

This new model comes with an 18-month warranty.

There are higher- and lower-capacity options (also more expensive to much, much cheaper) available directly from Anker here.

The Smallest USB-C Batteries with Built-In Cables

Your extra-battery-on-the-go solution won’t be worth much if you’re not also carrying the cable to connect it to your phone or other device. Credit-card-sized (though a bit thicker and heavier) solutions are available that have built-in cables to ensure you never have this problem.

The super lightweight option is the TravelCard Plus at 2.1 ounces or 59.5 grams—but its 3000 mAh capacity will only charge up most modern phones about halfway before giving out.

At about double the weight and double the capacity—enough to fully recharge most phones—is the Miisso 6000 mAh Card-Sized Power Bank. It can charge up three devices at once including one via USB-C.

Understanding USB Connection Types

Modern USB-C connectors can be plugged in upside-down or right-side-up. USB-C now connects nearly all modern phones and frequently laptops; it’s also becoming standard for things like headphones and portable Bluetooth speakers.

But you may have some devices that still charge via micro-USB and other standards. Here’s a photo of the main USB connections to know. Batteries, wall chargers, and computers often have USB-A outputs.

USB-C-Micro-USB-and-USB-A-connections


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