Keeping Your Tech Charged Overseas: Adapters vs. Converters Explained

Here is a blog post explaining the difference between travel adapters and converters for the everyday traveler:

Plugging In Abroad: Travel Adapters vs. Converters

You’ve booked your dream vacation abroad and you’re sure your phone, laptop, curling iron, and other electronics will come in handy on your trip. But what about the outlets? Outlet shapes and voltages vary by country and you need the right gadgets to plug in without frying your devices. Two things you need to know about are travel adapters and converters. It can get confusing, but I’ll break it down for you.

Travel Adapters
Adapters allow you to physically connect your electronic plugs to foreign outlets, adapting the plug shape and prong size. For example, outlets in the United States take plugs with two flat parallel prongs. But many countries use different outlet configurations, like three large rectangular prongs in the UK and two round pins in most of continental Europe.

With a travel adapter, you can snap or slide the adapter over your electronic plug and voila! It will now neatly fit into foreign outlets. Adapters are for fitting the plugs only, not changing voltages. Some universal adapters have sliding panels to configure multiple plug types.

Examples of Devices Needing an Adapter:
– Cell phones and tablets
– Laptop chargers
– Digital cameras and video recorders
– Shavers and toothbrushes
– Hair dryers and curling irons

Travel Converters
If you have a dual voltage device, you may also need a converter. This doesn’t change the physical plug shape, but rather converts the foreign outlet’s voltage to match what your device needs. For example, U.S. voltages are 110-120V but many countries output 200-250V. Plugging a 110-120V device into 250V can destroy the electronics.

Converters convert the higher foreign voltages down to 110-120V so American electronics can handle it. Note that converters often only convert to a range like 110-240V rather than an exact lower voltage. Read your device to see input voltages it can handle.

Examples Requiring a Converter:
– Hair dryers and curling irons
– Straightening irons
– Battery chargers
– Electric shavers
– CPAP machines

Dual voltage devices like phone and laptop chargers often don’t need converters because they have built-in converters for handling 110-240V. But it never hurts to use one!

The Bottom Line
Get a universal travel adapter to physically fit outlets abroad. If you have 110-120V electronics, also grab a voltage converter to transform foreign electricity into the proper, safer voltage. With this duo of essential gadgets, you’ll stay powered up anywhere in the world! Safe travels!