International travel is always exciting. Airports. Timezones. Language barriers. Cultural differences. Weird food (look left). No matter where you’re going, you’re probably taking your gadgets with you. You know, your camera and battery charger, your cellphone and charger, your laptop and power supply or your electric shaver or your flat iron. International travel requires international electrical adapters/converters/transformers because there is no international standard for electrical voltage or frequency. In the US, we’re on 110/120 V at 60Hz. Countries that I travel to always seem to be on 220/230 V at 50 Hz. Tricky.
So what are you going to need and what should you bring? Many gadgets are multi-voltage or dual-voltage and these can be used with just an adapter so you can get get the plug in the wall.
That’s a lot of stuff. What’s the diff between a converter and a transformer? When can I use an adapter?
Transformers convert electricity from high voltage to a lower voltage or vice versa. Converters (pictured to the right) use electronics to convert high voltage to a lower voltage.
Regardless of whether you need an converter or transformer, you’ll still need an adapter (pictured to the left) because plugs and outlets are very different across the world and your US plug most likely won’t fit into the outlet of the country you’re in.
Best place to start is with the manufacturer of your gadget to see if the gadget is multi voltage or if you’ll need a converter and if so, what kind. Once you get all your gadget accessories, don’t forget to bring them with you!
You need to be prepared and it starts with the power on the plane.
Some airlines have in-seat power that accepts standard US plugs as well as plugs from other countries. Some airlines have EmPower ® units that require special adapters. Check with your airline and make sure that your row has power. Unless you’re flying first or business, not all economy rows have in-seat power.
God forbid, you get to your seat with your adapters and your row doesn’t have power and you’re forced to read SkyMall over and over.