Tips for Choosing an Adapter for International Travel

The electrical systems vary in different countries, so American appliances and small electrical items won’t necessarily have the right plug shapes or be designed to work with the right voltage when you’re in another country. The solution is pretty simple—bring along a travel adapter. There are all sorts of adapters, but not all will work in every country.

Outlet Type

The first thing you need to verify before purchasing an adapter is the outlet type in the country where you’re going. There are actually 15 different types of plugs/outlets in use around the world. These plug/outlet types are usually labeled with letters that go from A to I. Without the right adapter, the plug of your device won’t fit into the outlet at your destination.

Plug Type

It’s also a good idea to check out the plugs on the devices you plan to bring with, as some may have two prongs and others may have three. You want to make sure the converter you’re purchasing has the same configuration or you may be able to plug the adapter into the outlet at your destination but not be able to plug the device into the adapter.

Voltage Considerations

Some countries use a different voltage than the U.S. Here, the voltage is typically about 110 volts, while in Japan it is 100 volts, and in much of Europe, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, China and Russia it is either 220 or 240 volts. In South America, the voltage can vary by country and even within a country, as is the case with Brazil. This means you may need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.

The Best Options

It’s relatively easy to find sets that will help you adapt your U.S. electrical devices to those in many areas of the world. The best options are compact, come with a carrying case, have anti-shock and heat-resisting properties, and have retractable heads so they’re less likely to be broken during transit or storage. Some converters even have USB ports to make it even easier to charge multiple electronic devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, wherever you go.