Traveling with electronics is a necessary part of modern life but it can create some confusion because of the different requirements and availability of options between regions. The two most important considerations are plugs and voltage, and understanding these two factors will go a long way to prevent any inconveniences like the inability to use your device or causing damage to it. In basic terms, an adapter allows you to plug your device into a socket, while a converter changes the amount of power going into it. These two functions are always separate, so it’s worth knowing if and when you need either or both. In this article, we’ll explore the essential things to know to help you make an informed decision
Electricity varies from country to country, meaning you may need to convert the voltage for your device to work or to prevent damaging it. Electronics are fitted specifically to the country they’re sold in and can differ vastly. As an example, Europe has 220V, whereas the United States and Canada have 120V. As a result, plugging an American device into a European socket can blow a fuse in the device and possibly even the building you’re in. Devices that use large amounts of electricity, like hair tools, are particularly at risk but caution should be taken with every device nonetheless.
Converters are necessary if your device isn’t dual voltage but can still be risky to travel with and won’t necessarily work as well abroad as they do at home. Added to that, they’re often bulky and therefore, less convenient if you’re strapped for space. The thing to look for is the voltage on your device. If it says 100-240V, like most computers, do these days, then you shouldn’t be too concerned, whereas you’ll undoubtedly need a converter if you see 110-120V. The job of a converter is to change the voltage found in an outlet to match the device that you’re using.
Universal laptop power adapters, on the other hand, allow you to plug your electronics into sockets that may be different from the ones in your home country. They don’t actually convert electricity, but rather, as the name suggests, adapt to the shape of foreign outlets. It is possible to buy individual adapters if you’re only planning on visiting a single country, but it’s often a better idea for a regular traveler to invest in a universal laptop power adapter and charger that can be used almost anywhere in the world.
If you’re planning a business trip at a single hotel or destination, you could simply check with your accommodation what they have, to be safe, but not everybody has that luxury or convenience before a trip. More detailed information regarding sockets and plugs is available online or in the national standards of each country, but all of that can be avoided, and the hassle of trying to find the right gear in a foreign city, by simply carrying a few gadgets with you on your travels.