Travel insurance is just one item on a long checklist travellers need to think about before they get on the plane. Almost every traveller carries a mobile phone or a digital camera these days, so power adaptors have become essential travel kit for nomads, business people and holidaymakers. Being a savvy digital traveller will mean you can use all the devices you use at home while you are overseas, to help you navigate, research, take photos and of course, ‘check-in’ on social media.
Different countries use different power plug adaptors and so the plug you use at home might not fit a socket in your holiday accommodation. There are 11 different types of power point connections across the world. No one thought ahead and decided to use a single standard to aid compatibility. Instead, every country developed different power plugs and standards to suit their needs as they ‘went electric’. It is easy enough to find the right power plug adaptor for your needs – check the colour coded chart and map here. Once you know the kind of power points you’ll need, you can buy an adaptor to suit. If you are a regular traveller if might be cost effective to buy a regional adaptor kit for or even a global set with a few different options.
There is more to electrical safety abroad than simply getting the power point right, although that is the best first step. There are a whole raft of other things you need to consider before you plug your new ipad or digital camera into a ‘random’ power socket. To keep yourself and your gadgets safe make sure you know the difference between an adaptor and a converter, a grounded plug and an ungrounded one before you ‘plug in’. The most important thing to remember is that power plug adaptors only allow appliances to connect to foreign electrical systems, they do not change the amount of energy or the voltage that can pass into your device. Different countries have different electrical systems with different voltages. In some cases, the electrical voltage will need to be converted either up or down to be compatible with your appliance or device. It is critical to check the voltage each appliance requires. High voltage entering a low voltage device can cause it to overheat and ‘blow’ and low voltage might not provide enough energy to operate some high voltage devices.
- Check the diagram below to see what type of plugs are used in different countries around the world.
- Remember travel adapters do not convert voltage, they just adapt the connections.
- Converters, either step up or step down the voltage for small appliances.
- Check for the wattage on the manufacturers label at the back of the appliance.
- Make sure you pack your chargers, adaptors and any other electrical equipment where you can access it easily while traveling.
- Check the adaptor and voltage at your destination before you plug your devices in and always follow warning label advice on plugs and outlets.
- If you arrive somewhere only to realise, you forgot to check the countries voltage before you left you can use this ‘life hack’ to find out the voltage of the local power supply. Just check the nearest light bulb – the voltage will be written on the side of the glass. But remember to take care!
- Power converters should only be used with electrical products like hair dryers, steam irons, shavers, toothbrushes or small fans. Converters can’t handle larger and more sophisticated equipment like computers, cameras, etc.
- If you have complex electronic appliances, you may need a transformer which is a bigger, stronger, higher voltage version of a converter.
- If you want to manage the voltage on larger electronic appliances for long periods of time that will run continuously, you will need to look at getting a transformer. Happy travels!