Travel adaptors are one of travellings biggest mysteries. With boarding passes on our smartphones now a common thing, our offices are wherever there’s Wifi and with all the digital extensions we have in our lives, we all need adaptors as part of our modern-life essentials.
So why is it that we can’t just simply take our devices, gadgets and accessories as they are and not have to deal with the “will it charge?!” stress when travelling? Why oh why are there soooooo many kinds of adaptors?!
Here are a few tips to help you through the tangled jungle of travel adaptors:
First question you’ll need to ask when entering the world of adaptors is “what do I really need?”
That is… do you need an adaptor or do you actually need a voltage converter? These are two different things that at first glance may seem similar. BUT THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT!
An adaptor changes the shape of the plug, while a converter converts the voltage. Voltage is a measure of electrical force and it varies from region to region throughout the world, so it will depend on what region your electrical devices come from and in what region you intend to use them – when you travel from a 110V region with your 110V devices to a 220V region, you’ll need a Step Up Converter. If you travel from a 220/ 240V country to a 110V (hello USA!) country, you will need to convert down using Step Down Converter. Most converters, by the way, have a Step Up/ Step Down option.
HOWEVER! Most modern electrical devices are built to be able to handle a range of different volts. Check the voltage capacity printed in the manual of the item (or on the item itself) to make sure. You really don’t want your hair straightener, hair dryer, charger or electric toothbrush to overheat and die.
Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash
Now that this basic question has been answered, it’s time to move onto the world of adaptors:
An adaptor is the device that changes the shape of your plug into the matching shape of the socket at your destination.
Most electric plugs can be divided into 2 basic groups: 2-pin plugs and 3-pin plugs. That said, there are 14 (!!) different plugs currently in use worldwide.
There have been a few attempts made to standardise plugs worldwide, starting as early as 1930, but those attempts eventually failed mainly due to a “flat pin” vs. “round pin” dispute (you can read more about the history of plugs and sockets at the IEC- International Electrotechnical Commission website). If you thought the “metric system” people or the “driving on the left side” party are tough, wait till you read about this dispute.
Since all 14 varieties are still around, adaptors are definitely basic travel essentials.
Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash
Here are our five tips on how to get an adaptor and happily live to tell about it:
1. Do your research! Either Google it or use our Adaptor Finder feature, or simply ask friends.
One way to make sure you’re getting the right adaptor is searching for images online for both sockets and outlets in your destination. Allow technology to help you remember and take screenshots of the images you find so you can use them when shopping for the right adaptor.
2. Make sure you know what you intend to plug into your adaptor before you buy it. Some devices have 3-pin outlets. Remember that 3-pin option when choosing your adaptor. Not sure which outlet your devices have? Buy the 3-pin adaptor version, as most of them can be used for 2 pins outlets as well.
3. Worldwide option
Don’t take the chance of not finding what you need at your destination, and don’t waste precious travel time on a quest for adaptors. You can find a solution at the airport – and you can always take a Worldwide Adaptor (yes, it exists!) that has all (well most, if you are going somewhere off the beaten rack you may need to double check!) the pins, sockets and whatnot that fit your destination.
4. You don’t need as many adaptors as you have devices
There are many adaptors which allow connecting two or three devices. If you have more than one device you need to plug in simultaneously, get a dual or triple adaptor. It’ll save you money and space. If you ever sat down to work at a coffee place, you probably know unoccupied sockets are often hard to find.
5. USB to the rescue!
Nowadays, most small devices are USB chargeable. This fact not only helps you save on adaptors and eliminates the fear of “no available sockets around”, but it is a MAJOR consideration when choosing the right adaptor – choose one with multiple USB ports, and you’re ready to go.
No doubt, the right adaptor is the modern-traveller’s best friend.
Still a bit confused? Visit our Travel Adaptor Finder to find the right adaptor, or contact us on our Facebook page – we’re here to help, no matter where you’re coming from or where you are travelling to!