So you’ve got your bag full of gadgets for your upcoming trip overseas. How are you going to keep them all going?
Keeping your gadgets charged and working for you can be more trouble than meets the eye. Different plug adapters in other countries? Yep. Different voltages that can leave your gadgets zapped and dead if you plug them in? You bet.
Fortunately it’s easier than ever to keep your gadgets ready for world travel.
What you need to know:
Around the world, different countries use different AC adapter plugs. The following are the most common.
North America – Flat parallel prongs
Australia / NZ – Angled flat prongs
Europe – Rounded prongs
UK / HK / Malaysia – Rectangular prongs
How do you know?
Check out the visuals. If your plug doesn’t look like the ones in the country you’re heading to, you might be in trouble.
What might happen if your gear doesn’t have the right plug?
You know the saying “can’t fit a square peg in a round hole?” It turns out what they were trying to tell you was how to power your laptop when traveling. Wrong plug = no power.
Simple and reasonably elegant, a good universal power adapter will accept all of your gadgets (one at a time) and let you plug into nearly all outlets abroad.
While North America (Canada, USA, Mexico) and parts of Central and South America run on 110/120 volts, the vast majority of the world runs on 220/230 volts. In the past, this was a big problem for electronics, but nowadays most camera, notebook and mobile phone chargers will be made for both voltages.
How do you know?
Check your gadget’s power adapters. Look for the input voltage (see the image below).
What might happen if your gear isn’t made for the different voltage?
Best case, not much. Worst case you may blow a fuse, or even fry your device. Remember that just because the plug looks the same, it doesn’t mean the voltage is.
It’s really not too often you will find a need for one of these any longer. Most modern tech like cameras, phones, and laptops are good to go. On the other hand, things like razors, hair dryers and the like might be more hassle than they are worth.
Though most of your tech gadgets will likely be dual voltage already, it is still a pain to haul around a bunch of separate adapters. In my kit alone I have one for my camera, one for my laptop, 2 for smartphones, and one for a Bluetooth headset. Fortunately, three will charge by USB, leaving only 2 bulky power blocks (notebook, DSLR) in my bag.
The future is getting brighter as well. More devices, including smartphones, music players, and even some digital cameras are able to charge via USB. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to plug into a laptop to charge though — many now come with their own mini wall adapters. If you have a few devices, pick up a travel surge bar with multiple USB power plugs and you’re set.
A few minutes checking out your tech gear before you go can help avert some serious power problems on the road. Pack your plug adapter and hit the road.