Today, backpackers travel with a lot of electronic gear. That means you’ll be carrying a phone, a camera, maybe a laptop and probably a few more things, like portable speakers or an electronic razor. You’ll need to charge all those items from time to time, and might experience some problems when it comes to finding a compatible plug.
As you probably know, pretty much every region of the world has different sockets. Why is that? I’ll give a little explanation at the end of the article, but the fact is, it sucks. And it can be worse – in some countries, you can find several types of sockets! I can understand that Papua New Guinea and Brazil don’t have the same plugin, that’s alright! But different sockets in the same country? Well, that’s okay, too! I don’t want to complain! Let’s keep on the article!
Sometimes you can also experience problems with electric currents. For example, Europe uses an alternating current electricity voltage of 220V, while Japan uses 100V and the USA 120V. Some electronic devices would work just fine in other countries but you have to be careful. There are some exceptions depending on where you’re traveling and the type of electronic device you’re using.
Anyway, we’re not here to talk about problems, but rather to talk about solutions! I once used different simple adapters for my first travels, and I still have some of them. Fortunately, before I started my “big trip”, I decided to invest a bit and got a great international travel power adapter. When I say “invest”, please don’t think they’re expensive… They usually cost between 10 to 20 dollars, so it won’t be something that will break your bank.
Are you looking for the best travel adapter? If you’re planning a trip overseas, you’re going to need one. There are hundreds of models out there, and most of them look the same. However, there are some differences in terms of quality, weight, size and durability. Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend hours comparing models and reviews. I’ve done it for you! I’ve created a list of the best travel power adapters based on the reviews of real customers. Have a look and find the one that best fits your needs.
THE BEST TRAVEL ADAPTERS
LOOP PLUG ADAPTER
“Efficient and affordable”
The Loop Plug is one of the best travel international adapters on the list. It’s compact, well-designed, lightweight and functional. It will work in more than 150 countries in America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. (Check compatibility if you’re traveling to not-common destinations.) It’s the perfect companion for work travel, short holidays and backpacking adventures. It comes with two helpful USB ports to charge your Smartphone and iPad anywhere.
Thanks to its efficient design, you can charge as many as three devices simultaneously, all with the same adapter! It’s made of fire-resistant PC materials and has safety shutters, LEDs and a safety plug lock. It looks like the manufacturers are pretty proud of their product, as they provide an 18-month warranty.
Keep in mind that this adapter is meant to work with laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc. and might not be suitable for high-power devices like curling irons, hairdryers, etc. The maximum rating is 1400 watts 6.0 Amps 250 V. The USB output is 5 V DC at 2500 mAh maximum. Check out your devices before using any travel adapter.
Pros: Great price, efficient
Cons: None in particular
LOOP TRAVEL ADAPTER AND CHARGER
“Charge your devices on the move”
The Loop Charger is another great choice for any kind of travel. It’s similar to the previous Loop model with the main advantage being that it can work as a charger. It’s one of the most featured adapters on the list, being a great adapter with an 11 pin AC socket, two USB ports and an internal power bank.
The built-in 3000 mAh power bank enables you to optimize recharging speeds and charge your technology on the move. When you’re charging several items at the same time, your devices might charge slowly. That’s when a power bank comes in handy.
Moreover, it’s great to charge your phone or iPad while traveling, right? Need to call your hotel while you’re on the bus and have no battery? The charger will be of great help in those situations.
It’s compatible with Apple, Samsung, Sony, Blackberry, Smartphones, tablets, etc. You can also charge three devices at the same time, like with the previous model. It comes with an 18-month warranty and has the most important certifications: FCC, CE and RoHS. It’s one of the best travel adapters you can find out there.
Pros: Built-in charger
Cons: A bit bulky
“Simple and efficient”
The Travel Newvanga is another compact and affordable option. You can use it in more than 150 countries in North America, Europe, the UK, Oceania and many more. It’s not the smallest on the list, but it fits in your pocket easily and it’s pretty lightweight. To be honest, there are a lot of models of pretty much the same size and weight. If they are also chargers and converters, they will be heavier and much bigger.
It features dual USB ports to charge your iPad, phone and other small devices. It’s built using the best components and it includes safety shutters to be durable, efficient and secure.
Cons: None in particular
“Functional for Europe”
The Skross offers several plug options depending on your preferences and needs. It has a functional design, so you can disassemble one of the pieces and use it without the body. It’s a great option if you are traveling to Europe, as the head piece converts to the European plug. One of the main downsides of this model is that the dual USB ports are not built in the same body. There is another piece with the USB connections, so you can’t use the plug and the USB ports at the same time.
It’s a good model with a versatile design, and even though it’s made in Thailand, the original design is Swiss. Still, I think it’s a bit overpriced, and I don’t like the idea of bringing along different pieces to connect the USB devices.
Pros: Several options
Cons: Expensive, USB separated
KENSINGTON 3 PRONG
The Kensington 3 Prong is a well-built option that works in more than 200 countries. You can power your laptop or camera and charge two USB devices at the same time. It’s easy to use and compact.
I think it’s a nice option for any kind of traveler. It’s safe and efficient.
Pros: Fast USB, safety
Cons: It’s not cheap
PORS ELA INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ADAPTER
“Adapter and charger”
The Pors Ela travel adapter allows you to power your electronic devices all over the world. It’s a very safe device, which includes a fuse system integrated with a durable polycarbonate shell and protection layers. It’s FCC, CE and RoHS certified, providing complete protection. It has an intelligent design to optimize internal space and functionality.
As with most adapters on the list, it’s not suitable for use with high-power appliances like hairdryers, curling irons, water heaters, etc. The maximum rating is 650 watts at 110 V and 1300 watts at 220V.
Pros: Good design
Cons: None in particular
INSTEN UNIVERSAL ADAPTER
“Best budget option”
The Insten universal charger is the best option for those looking for something simple, functional and cheap. It works in more than 150 countries, like pretty much all the adapters on the list. The main difference from the others is the basic design. The construction of the body is quite simple and the design doesn’t look as attractive. Regardless, this was the first travel adapter that I bought more than seven years ago and it still works like a charm. I totally recommend it.
I think it’s a great option for backpackers on a budget. If you think it’s too simple, you’d like to know that there’s a black version which is just a bit more expensive (a few dollars), and that offers a much more beautiful design and USB ports – probably the best value for the money.
Cons: Not so attractive
VLG ADAPTER AND CHARGER
“Best travel charger”
The VLG might be the best travel adapter and charger on the list. I like this model because it’s super compact and lightweight, and you can charge your devices while traveling. Power all your electronic gear on the move! You can use the main plug and the two USB ports at the same time. Of course, it works in more than 150 countries, including the USA, Canada, Japan, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia, South Africa, etc.
You can find it in eight bright colors depending on your preferences!
Pros: Compact, charger
Cons: None in particular
CEPTICS GP-12PK SET
“It works everywhere”
As you’ve noticed, all travel adapters on the list work in more than 150 countries. Unfortunately, that’s not every country in the world. If you’re traveling somewhere with a very specific and small common plug, you might need a special adapter. For example, Israel uses Type H. That type of plug is used exclusively in Israel, so most adapters are not compatible. You might find the same problem in other countries. If that’s your case, I recommend that you get the Ceptics GP-12PK, which is compatible with all plug types except large South African plugs.
Actually, it’s not a travel adapter, but a complete set with the different types of plugs.
Pros: Many options, affordable
BESTEK TRAVEL ADAPTER AND VOLTAGE CONVERTER
“One of the best voltage converters”
We’ve reviewed nine great travel adapters. However, they don’t convert voltage. If you want to use some electronic devices in another country and they aren’t dual voltage, you’ll need a good voltage converter. The Bestek adapter converts all countries’ voltages from 90-220V to 110-120V, which is the voltage used in the US. You’ll find one EU power cable, three plug international adapters and four USB charging ports. It charges seven devices simultaneously.
The Bestek is compact and well-designed. Of course, it’s bigger than regular travel adapters but it’s still a reasonable size.
Pros: Converts voltage
OTHER ITEMS YOU MIGHT LIKE:
SYNCWIRE USB CHARGER
I wanted to include the Syncwire Charger on the list because some people might need extra USB ports for some always charged. It doesn’t have so many possibilities and adapters, but it will work in the USA, the UK, Europe and other countries. It comes with four full-speed charging USB ports.
WHICH ARE THE BEST TRAVEL ADAPTERS?
Do you still have doubts? Don’t worry, let me help you. If you’re looking for a high-quality, efficient adapter, I recommend that you get the Loop adapter. If you want a travel charger, I’d go with the VLG because it’s compact and it works well.
If you’re on a budget and want something affordable but well-designed, I recommend that you take a look at the Insten Black.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING A TRAVEL POWER ADAPTER:
VOLTAGE CONVERTERS. DO I NEED ONE?
This is the most important thing you need to know about travel adapters: They’re not voltage converters! They basically adapt your plug to fit a different socket, so you can plug in your electronic device and get the electric current to make it work. But that doesn’t mean your device is necessarily prepared to use that voltage. You should check which voltage your electronic devices use and the current voltage at your destination.
Anyway, don’t worry too much, as most modern devices are dual voltage, which means they’d work fine with any of the indicated voltages.
Just check your electronic device’s voltage and be sure it’s compatible or dual voltage. Otherwise, you’re going to need a voltage converter.
Another important point: If you buy a travel adapter, I recommend that you get an international adapter. If you buy one suitable only for European plugs, you’ll need another one for Australia, South Africa, and so on. International travel adapters are great because they’re designed to provide different plug options all over the world (with a few exceptions) – all in the same compact item!
When I got my first adapter, I didn’t even know what USB meant. However, nowadays, with all those phone cables, different chargers, etc., I think getting an adapter with a few USB entries (at least two) would be the most intelligent option. Actually, the best travel adapters are equipped with dual USB ports.
There is a considerable difference in size if we compare regular adapters (suitable for just one type of plug) and international travel adapters (for all types of plugs). Of course, international adapters tend to be bigger and bulkier because they have a more complex design to work with several plug types. In any event, the difference is not huge.
If you need a voltage adapter, though, keep in mind that they are much bigger and heavier.
INSTRUCTIONS AND CERTIFICATIONS
If you have any doubts about your electronic device, read the instructions to be sure about the voltage and other characteristics. If you aren’t sure about the quality of your device and your travel adapter, check if it has the proper certifications, like the CE for Europe, the FCC for the USA, the CSA for Canada, the RCM for Australia, etc.
TYPES OF PLUGS
Do you know how many types of plugs are out there? Fourteen! Isn’t that crazy? Some of them are very popular and spread around half the world, while others are not so common.
This is a very common plug, used in the USA, Canada, Central America, Japan and other countries. This plug is an ungrounded plug with two flat parallel pins. It’s used in many countries, so all the adapters in the list will work with Type A plugs.
This plug is used in North and Central America, Japan and other countries. It has two parallel pins and a round grounding (on earth) pin. It’s used in many countries, so all the travel adapters in the list include a Type B plug.
This plug is used in Europe with a few exceptions, like Ireland, Cyprus and Malta. It’s a two-wire plug that has two round pins. It’s a very popular plug all over the world. The best travel adapters in the list will work with Type C plugs.
Type D plugs are very common in India, Nepal, Namibia, Ghana, Sri Lanka and other countries. It has three large round pins in a triangular pattern. Keep in mind that not all adapters are compatible with this type because it’s not very common.
This plug is used in some European and African countries. It features two round pins and a hole for the socket’s earthing pin. It’s not that common on travel electronic devices, so not all travel adapters are compatible.
Type F plugs are used in some countries in Europe and the Middle East. They’re very similar to Type E without the hole.
This type is used in the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and more. It features three rectangular prongs in a triangular pattern. It’s a common type, so all travel adapters on the list will work with Type G.
This plug is used only in Israel! It has three flat blades – two in a V shape as well as a grounding pin. It’s not common, so most international travel adapters are not compatible.
The Type I plug is used mainly in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Argentina, Uruguay and many islands in the Pacific Ocean. It features two flat pins in a V shape and a grounding pin. It’s compatible with the best adapters on the list.
This plug is used in Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Jordan, Madagascar, Maldives and Rwanda. It has three round pins in a triangle pattern. Most adapters on the list are not compatible with this type of plug.
Type K plugs are used in Denmark, Bangladesh, Greenland, Guinea, Madagascar, the Maldives, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Senegal. It has two round prongs and a grounding pin. Most universal adapters don’t work with this type.
This plug is used in Chile, Italy, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, the Maldives, San Marino, Syria and Uruguay. It has three round pins in a row. It’s not very common, so it’s not compatible with most international adapters.
Type M plugs are used in India, South Africa, Swaziland, Pakistan, Botswana and a few more countries. They have three round prongs in a triangle pattern.
Type N is used only in Brazil and South Africa. It has three round pins in a triangle shape and isn’t very common.
IS MY DEVICE DUAL VOLTAGE?
As we mentioned before, you must know whether your electronic device is dual voltage. If it’s not dual voltage and you’re traveling to a country using a different voltage, you’ll need to get a voltage converter. Let me tell you how you can determine whether it’s dual voltage.
A dual voltage device typically accepts both 110-120V and 220-240V. Fortunately, most travel gadgets are dual voltage. Many popular devices among backpackers, like laptops, Smartphones, cameras, electronic razors, etc., are dual voltage. You need just one of the travel adapters we’ve reviewed and your device will be powered up almost anywhere in the world.
Before you travel, check all your devices so you know that you’re bringing the right gear. Have a look at your laptop’s charger, for example. Somewhere you see INPUT: 100 – 240 V. Right? That’s dual voltage. It means the device can work with either a 100 V current or a 240 V current. So, if you’re going to Japan (100 V) or Europe (220 V), you’ll be fine. You can also find other specifications, like 110 ~ 220 V AC, etc. Some dual voltage devices have settings that require you to switch them to the right voltage before you turn them on. However, this is not common nowadays, as most dual voltage devices adjust automatically.
If you read something on the power label that looks like a simple 100V AC or maybe 120V AC, that’s not good! It’s a single voltage device. In that case, you’ll need a voltage converter. I recommend the Bestek converter to adapt your devices to international travel.
WHY DOES EVERY REGION HAVE A DIFFERENT PLUG AND VOLTAGE?
We must go back in time to fully understand this problem. Edison and Tesla were competing to implement the best use of current electricity power. Edison’s experiments around 1890 resulted in the first useful mainstream applications for electricity. However, some voltage was lost over long distances. Tesla invented a more efficient system with alternating current power which resulted in today’s 110 V, the voltage used in the United States.
In Europe, they thought about doing things in a different way, so Germany fixed the voltage to 240 V and a 50 Hz frequency. All that was before electricity would have arrived in private homes.
When current electricity power arrived in private homes, the main use was for lightning the house. A few years later, new electronic machines and devices were invented and people started using them. But how would they plug these devices to the main supply of electricity? You don’t want to know! It was very precarious and dangerous, and some people were electrocuted!
In the United States, Harvey Hubbell invented an adapter to plug electronic devices into the current power. It was around 1928 when the design of those sockets was improved. But think about it! By the time the socket was invented, there was already that mess with different voltages!
At the same time, inventors in other countries invented other sockets! Nobody worried about compatibility back in those days. The world wasn’t globalized like it is today, and nobody would carry a fridge from one continent to another.
After that, with so many colonies around Asia, Africa and the Americas (mainly English, French and Spanish), it took just a few years to spread different models to different colonies, creating the mess of plugs and adapters we know today!
One unified standard voltage and plug for every country in the world? Even though some countries like Brazil and South Africa have adapted to the universal plug, it would now be very difficult to convince every country to change all their systems. I’m afraid that standardization is not going to happen soon!
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Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 10 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.