Man at airport using travel power adapter to charge phone

The Best Travel Power Adapters in 2022

By Dave Dean Accessories5 Comments

Is there any tech gadget less interesting than a travel adapter? In a world of sleek smartphones and slimline laptops, chunky adapters are about as unexciting as it gets.

Unfortunately, without those ugly adapters, all the sexy tech gear in the world becomes pretty useless when you can’t charge it overseas. That’s a very common problem: there are at least 15 types of different socket in widespread use around the world, plus several other weird varieties that you’ll hopefully never come across.

Coming in a ridiculous range of sizes, styles, and weights, with all kinds of different features, it’s not at all easy to separate the good travel adapters from the garbage ones. Sadly, there are many that fall into the second category.

What to Avoid

I’ve been using travel adapters since the late nineties, and have been consistently amazed by just how badly some of them have failed at the one job they had.

Plugs that don’t fit into the outlets they’re intended for, for instance, or are so loose that they fall straight back out again. Sockets so tight that it’s near-impossible to remove them without damaging whatever they’re attached to. Adapters that block nearby outlets and, if you’re extra-lucky, the power switch alongside.

Multi-USB adapters that don’t have enough power to charge more than one device at once are a particular pet peeve, and there’s a special place in hell reserved for product designers who include an eye-searing LED on adapters that light up your hotel room like a nightclub when you’re trying to sleep.

Price isn’t always a guide to quality either: I had an expensive version that stopped working in a literal puff of smoke after a few months, and a cheap adapter that kept going for more than two years of full-time travel.

So what’s actually worth buying?

What to Look For

The main thing to decide is whether you’re looking for a “universal” adapter that works in most countries around the world, or a single-plug version that’s only for the specific country or region you’re going to.

Individual Travel Adapters

The single versions have the benefit of being much smaller and lighter than the universal models, and typically much cheaper as well. Some of them have a USB socket built in as well, but most do nothing more than let you plug your charger or appliance from home into the wall in a different country.

The downside, of course, is that they’ll only work in one type of wall outlet. You can buy kits that come with a bunch of separate adapters, or models that let you clip different plugs on and off the base adapter, but this does mean traveling with multiple small gadgets that are easy to lose or leave behind.

Because most individual adapters are so simple, all you really need to look for is a model that covers the area(s) you’re traveling to, is well-constructed, and won’t break when you need it most. You don’t need or want lights that tell you if it’s working, or much anything else in the way of extra features.

If you don’t know for sure which type of outlet(s) are used in your destination, there’s a comprehensive Wikipedia article with pictures of each socket and where you might expect to find it. Just to confuse things, some countries have a mix of types that can vary by region, building age, and other factors.

Universal Travel Adapters

Universal adapters, as the name suggests, work in a much wider range of countries. They’re not truly universal, or even global for that matter, but you can typically expect them to work in some or all of the outlets you’ll find in around 150 countries.

These adapters have sets of retractable metal prongs that fit four of the most common plug types used around the world: type A (North America and parts of Asia), type C (much of Europe and parts of Asia), type G (UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, and a few other countries), and type I (Oceania).

Most of the better ones also come with USB sockets, often two or more, and sometimes a mix of USB-A and the newer USB C. You might get some degree of protection against power surges as well, although I wouldn’t rely solely on this if you’re traveling somewhere you know has unreliable power.

The downside here is simply the size. By necessity, a universal adapter is bigger and heavier than an individual version. This is a problem in two ways: it can block adjoining wall sockets or press against the power switch, and it can fall out of certain types of socket, especially two-pin versions.

Two Unidapt brand travel adapters plugged into each other
Two travel adapters plugged into each other, for when one just isn’t enough…

USB Ports

Given how many devices we travel with these days, and that many of them can be charged with a USB cable, it’s no surprise that universal travel adapters in particular often build in one or more USB ports. You can also buy travel adapters that only provide USB power, and we talk about a couple of them below.

The first thing to check is what kind of USB ports are on offer. The older, flat USB-A sockets are most common: they have the advantage of letting you use cables you likely already own, but don’t necessarily put out enough power to charge your phone or tablet at full speed. Laptop charging is a definite no-no.

USB C sockets are starting to show up in travel adapters more often, with the potential to let you charge all of your mobile electronics more quickly. The downside is that you may need new cables to do it with, although even that is become less true, with many devices now coming with USB C cables from factory.

The fun doesn’t end there, unfortunately, as the amount of power available from these USB sockets varies very widely. Don’t just look at the headline number (e.g. 30 watts): as if there’s more than one socket, you need to know how that total is split up between them.

As a very general rule, you need around 15-20W to charge a phone or tablet at maximum speed, and 30-60W for a laptop, depending on the model. A lower output will still charge your devices, albeit more slowly, but only to a point: giving 10W to a laptop that’s expecting 60 won’t get you very far.

In short, check the fine print in the manual or on your existing charger to see how much power your device is expecting, and then make sure your travel adapter can output that much. If you plan to charge multiple devices at once, check the maximum amount per port, and plan accordingly.

In some cases, you’re better off taking your existing phone or laptop charger and plugging it into a small, simple travel adapter than you are relying on the inbuilt USB sockets on a universal adapter. It just depends on the adapter and your specific charging requirements.

Quick Summary

If you already have a USB charger you particularly like and your trip isn’t taking you all over the world, you may find one or two basic individual travel adapters are all you need. If you’ll get use out of the USB sockets and/or expect to visit countries with different types of wall socket, go the universal route.

Of course, if you’re visiting countries like South Africa, Israel, Brazil, or somewhere else where many or all of the wall sockets aren’t compatible with any of the plugs on a universal adapter, you don’t have a choice about it: individual adapters are the way to go.

Right, with all that out the way, lets get into the recommendations!

Sale
Best Universal Adapter: Unidapt Travel Adapter
  • Size: 2.1 x 2.1 x 2.9 inches
  • Weight: 5.1 ounces
  • Type: Universal
  • USB Sockets: 5 (4 USB-A, 1 USB-C)
  • Works In: 160+ countries

Best Lightweight Option: Flight 001 4-In-1
  • Size: 2.2 x 1.5 x 2.0 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Type: Universal
  • USB Sockets: 0
  • Works In: 150+ countries

Best for Going Anywhere: Ceptics GP-12PK Plug Set
  • Size: 12 x 6.0 x 2.0 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Type: 12 x individual adapters
  • USB Sockets: 0
  • Works In: Nearly everywhere

Best for Small USB Devices: LENCENT 4-Port USB Wall Charger
  • Size: 2.6 x 2.4 x 1.0 inches
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Type: Universal (clip-on plugs)
  • USB Sockets: 4
  • Works In: 150+ countries

Best for USB Fast Charging: Anker PowerPort III Travel Adapter
  • Size: 2.4 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Type: Universal (clip-on plugs)
  • USB Sockets: 1
  • Works In: 140+ countries

Best for Voltage Conversion: BESTEK 220V to 110V
  • Size: 6.0 x 3.0 x 1.6 inches
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Type: Universal with voltage conversion
  • USB Sockets: 4
  • Works In: 150+ countries

Sale
Best Budget Option: CyonGear Universal Travel Adapter
  • Size: 3.0 x 2.0 x 4.0 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Type: Universal
  • USB Sockets: 0
  • Works In: 150+ countries

Best All-in-One Option: Ceptics World Travel Adapter Set
  • Size: 2.8 x 1.5 x 3.8 inches
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Type: Universal (clip-on plugs)
  • USB Sockets: 2
  • Works In: Nearly everywhere

Note: in general, travel adapters do not also convert the voltage. If you’re traveling from a country like the United States where mains power is 110-120 volts to other parts of the world that use 220-240v, or vice versa, you’ll need to carefully check what your devices can handle.

Most gadgets designed to be used around the world (like laptops) have chargers that can deal with the full range of voltages. Any device like a smartphone or Kindle that charges via USB is also fine, but if you’re using a USB wall charger to power it, you’ll need to check the details for that as well.

If you discover that you do need to convert the voltage of your gear, you’ve got three choices: leave it behind, buy an alternative that can deal with a range of voltages, or use a dedicated converter like the Bestek model listed below.

Best Universal Adapter: Unidapt Travel Adapter

Unidapt Universal Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Outlet Wall Charger Converter with 5.6A Smart Power and 3.0A USB Type C US to EU, AU, UK, USA

There are about a million different kinds of universal travel adapters out there, and most of them are terrible. They’re often too heavy, don’t fit properly, are unreliable, or have other flaws that mean you’ll end up shopping for a replacement halfway through your vacation.

This Unidapt model does all the basics well at a reasonable price, and throws in a few extra features to sweeten the deal. It works in 160+ countries, with a handy compatibility list printed in the fold-up manual. There’s also an attractive carry case that provides extra protection from bumps and scratches in transit.

The adapter handles all of the usual input plugs as well, including three-pin versions like type B (North America) and type I (Australasia). That third pin isn’t grounded, however.

Where it really stands out, though, is the wide range of USB options. As more and more travel devices are charged from USB sockets, it makes sense for travel adapters to include plenty of them. This model has four USB-A sockets on one end, and a USB C socket on the side.

Total USB output is 28W, with a maximum per-port output of 12W for the USB-A sockets and 15W for the USB C. Depending on your devices, that’s enough to simultaneously charge a couple of phones or tablets at close to full speed, or to use all five for lower-power gadgets like Kindles and headphones.

There’s an inbuilt fuse to protect your valuable gear, and usefully, a spare fuse stored inside the adapter (because who travels with extra fuses in their bag? Nobody, that’s who.)

I’ve put mine through its paces during several months of travel, using a wide range of devices. It’s performed flawlessly, even while simultaneously charging a laptop from the AC socket, a phone from the USB C socket, and a second phone and a pair of Bluetooth headphones from two of the USB-A sockets.

The pins slide in and out easily, and lock solidly into place when fully extended. The adapter has fitted firmly into every power socket I’ve tried it in so far, without moving around or falling out like so many others.

While it’d be nice if it was a little smaller, since it can sometimes block adjoining sockets or rub against power switches, having so many inbuilt charging options makes that a minor concern.

All in all, it’s a useful and well-made accessory, with extras you rarely find in other models. As a result, it’s our top universal travel adapter pick.

Pros
  • Wide range of sockets, including USB C
  • Fits firmly into power outlets
  • Spare fuse inside the adapter
Cons
  • Can sometimes block adjoining power outlets
Buy on Amazon

Best Lightweight Option: Flight 001 4-In-1

Flight 001 4-In-1 Travel Adapter

If you’re traveling with a minimal amount of gear and want a small, lightweight travel adapter to go with it, take a look at this Flight 001 model.

It’s a universal adapter, but rather than being a chunky brick, it’s made up of four lightweight color-coded pieces that slot neatly together and don’t block adjoining sockets.

While it’s towards the higher end of the travel adapter price range, that cost is reflected in the sturdy build quality. The Flight 001 doesn’t fall out of loose sockets like many other models, and even after several years of bouncing around the world in my luggage, all the pieces of my one work as well as ever.

Unlike some adapters, it can handle both two and three-pin North American plugs, and comes in a small box that helpfully lists which countries each piece works in. There are no USB sockets, though, so if that’s something you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • Doesn’t block adjoining sockets
  • Fits firmly into power oulets
Cons
  • No USB sockets
  • Somewhat expensive for what it is
Buy on Amazon

Best for Going Anywhere: Ceptics GP-12PK Plug Set

Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK

So-called “universal” travel adapters typically cover you in the ~150 countries that use North American, UK, European, or Australasian-style sockets.

That’s fine if you’re going to those destinations. When your travels take you to places like South Africa, India, Brazil, and other countries with unusual power sockets, however, you’re out of luck.

Sure, you can pick up a separate adapter just for that trip, but if you’d rather not deal with that hassle, go for this Ceptics kit instead.

It lets you plug your existing devices into almost any socket you can find, and also handles inputs from pretty much anywhere except South Africa as well. If you buy electronics in a random destination, you’ll be able to use them wherever else you go in the world.

The downside is having up to 12 separate adapters in your suitcase. That’s especially true because they don’t come with a storage bag to keep them together. For that reason, the kit is best for people who return home between trips, rather than those on open-ended travels.

Other than that, it’s a flexible, inexpensive way of ensuring you’ll be able to power your gear, no matter where your journey takes you.

Pros
  • Works in countries that most others don’t
Cons
  • No pouch or carry case makes the plugs easy to lose
  • No USB sockets
Buy on Amazon

Best for Small USB Devices: LENCENT 4-Port USB Wall Charger

Multiple USB Wall Charger, [22W/4.4A] LENCENT 4 Port USB Travel Power Adapter, All in One Worldwide Cell Phone Charger With UK US EU European Australia, International Block Cube Plug for iPhone & IPad

If your charging needs tend more towards phones and tablets than laptops and hair dryers, you’re best to buy a slightly different type of travel adapter. This LENCENT model has four standard USB-A ports that can output up to 12W from a single socket, or 22W in total.

In real-world terms, that means you’ll be able to simultaneously charge a pair of smartphones, or up to four lower-power gadgets like Kindles or wireless headphones, all from the one adapter.

The adapter has a North American-style plug built in. Three other connectors quickly clip on and off to provide compatibility with sockets in most countries. There’s also a small bag to keep them in, always useful for little accessories like this that are easily lost.

I used a very similar model for several years, and it was probably the most useful travel accessory I owned at the time. That said, as my devices have largely moved to USB C charging, I’ve now switched to the Anker PowerPort III discussed below, which is more expensive, but can power most laptops as well.

Have a think about the kinds of devices you’ll travel with and how many of them you need to charge at once, then pick the USB travel charger that best meets those requirements!

Pros
  • Small and light
  • Convenient clip-on plug adapters
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • No USB C sockets
  • Can’t charge a laptop
  • Only for USB, not for AC power
Buy on Amazon

Best for USB Fast Charging: Anker PowerPort III Travel Adapter

USB C Charger, Anker 65W PIQ 3.0 Type-C Charger, PowerPort III 65W, with US/UK/EU Plugs for Travel, for MacBook, iPad Pro, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and More

While the Lencent model mentioned above is ideal for charging a few small USB devices at once, the Anker PowerPort III is the way to go if your mobile devices need more power.

Able to put out up to 65W from its USB C port, it can charge almost all travel-sized laptops at full speed, and fast-charge the vast majority of phones and tablets as well. That includes iPhones and iPads; you’ll just need a USB C to Lightning cable to do it with.

You’ll get the usual array of clip-on plugs (type A, C, and G), so you can use the charger in North America, the UK and Ireland, much of Europe, and many places in Asia. It’s worth noting, though, that the prongs on the Type A plug don’t rotate, so it’s no good for Australia or New Zealand.

I’ve been happy with all of the Anker chargers I’ve used over the years, and the PowerPort III is no exception. Being able to fast-charge almost anything I travel with from a single adapter that’s smaller and lighter than my usual laptop charger is super-useful.

When I’m on a short layover and need to quickly charge multiple devices at once, I just plug my laptop into this adapter and charge my phone, headphones, or whatever else from the laptop. It’s not elegant, but it works!

The company also makes a similar 60W model with two USB C ports, but because that power is shared between the ports, it’s no better for charging a laptop and (e.g.) a phone simultaneously. It’s heavier as well, and can fall out of wall sockets as a result, so the single-port version is a better choice for most people.

Pros
  • Powerful enough to charge laptops, phones, and tablets at full speed
  • Small and lightweight for what it offers
  • Clip-on plugs for international travel
Cons
  • Only a single port
  • Doesn’t work in Australia/New Zealand
  • Only for USB, not for AC power
Buy on Amazon

Best for Voltage Conversion: BESTEK 220V to 110V Converter/Adapter

BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter 220V to 110V Voltage Converter with 6A 4-Port USB Charging and UK/AU/US/EU Worldwide Plug Adapter (White)

As mentioned earlier, if you’re heading to a country with a different mains power voltage to your home country, you need to carefully check the specifications of whatever you plan to plug into it. If it can’t handle the new voltage on its own, you’ll need a voltage converter to avoid damaging it.

This BESTEK model converts the 220-240v standard commonly used in Europe, Asia, and Oceania to the 110v supply used in North America and a few other places. It’s not designed for high-draw devices like hairdryers and straighteners, but smaller gadgets should be fine.

By necessity, it’s much larger than a standard travel adapter. On the upside, that means it includes three North American three-pin power sockets, plus four USB sockets with 34W total output.

If that doesn’t cover all your power requirements, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at what you’re packing! It includes clip-on plugs for use in 150+ countries, and comes with a two-year warranty.

Pros
  • Converts voltage as well as plug type
  • Multiple AC and USB sockets
  • Handy clip-on plugs
Cons
  • Comparatively big and heavy
  • No USB C sockets
Buy on Amazon

Best Budget Option: CyonGear Universal Travel Adapter

Travel Adapter, Universal All-In-One Worldwide International Travel Plug Converter-USA EU AUS/NZ UK Europe Asia And Works on All Country

When you’re on a strict budget and just want a travel adapter that does the job with a minimum of fuss, this Cyongear model is where it’s at.

Sold under a variety of brand names, it’s a generic gadget that does little beyond converting one plug type into another. There’s basic protection that may or may not do anything to stop your gear being fried by power surges, and that’s about it.

So why do I recommend it? Because it’s reliable, and for under ten bucks, that’s about all I ask. I picked one up in Thailand years ago and used it every day for a couple of years. When it finally stopped working, I bought another one exactly the same that I still use to this day.

One thing to note, though, is that it fits relatively loosely into European/Asian sockets, and heavy plugs can drag it out of the wall entirely. As a result, I’ve sometimes needed to prop it up with a backpack or whatever I have to hand.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Reliable
Cons
  • No USB sockets
  • Fits loosely into some outlets
Buy on Amazon

Best All-in-One Option: Ceptics World Travel Adapter Set

International Plug Adapter Kit, Ceptics World Safest Grounded 13 Adaptor Set Dual USB Ports - Travel Anywhere - Business Use - Perfect for Laptops, Cell Phones, Chargers - Surge Protection

Do you like the sound of the Ceptics 12-piece plug set (above) that lets you only take the plug adapters you need for your trip, but also need to charge a bunch of devices at once? The company’s World Travel Adapter plug set lets you do exactly that.

This all-in-one kit comes with a multi-outlet adapter that includes two type B (North American-style) outlets, two USB-A sockets, and an inbuilt microUSB cable. In total, you can power up to five devices at once.

Thirteen different plugs are also included, which clip on and off the back of the adapter and cover travel in most countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, for example, you’d grab the charger and Type I plug and be on your way. The product page has a full breakdown of the countries covered by each plug.

The adapter has built-in surge protection to help shield against voltage surges and spikes. There’s also a voltage indicator on the charger, so you’ll see the 220v or 110v light illuminate when the adapter is plugged into the wall.

The kit also comes with a drawstring bag, fitting several (but not all) of the adapters inside to help keep them together. The only downside is that while the “plug” side of the adapter is universal, the “socket” side isn’t, so your wall-powered devices need to have type A/B plugs.

Pros
  • Covers almost everywhere in the world
  • Can charge up to five devices at once
  • Handy clip-on plugs
  • Pouch included to keep plugs together
Cons
  • No USB C sockets
Buy on Amazon

Main image via Nina Lishchuk/Shutterstock.com, travel adapters plugged into each other image via author, product images via Amazon

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 25 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    I’m going to Japan shortly and I’ve just realised that Japan has unusual power outlets, and I can’t see a travellers solution. There must be a solution as lots of people travel to Japan.
    The issue is that, as I read it, type A power outlets (with no earth pin socket) are very common in Japan. My Australian-plugged laptop charger has an earth pin. Any adaptors that I’ve seen are either US types with three-pin type B that won’t plug into a type A socket, or they are japanese types that only take 2-pin Australian plugs. There are no adaptors that take a 3-pin plug and plug into a 2-pin type A outlet. I believe in Australia, at least, it’s even illegal to sell an adaptor that does this, as it disables the earthing connection. So how are people charging laptops that have a 3-pin plug in Japan when they can only access a type A power outlet with no earth pin socket?

    1. Dave Dean Author

      Hi Chris,

      Yep, it’s an issue I’ve faced myself, being from NZ originally. I got around it in the end because my laptop charger was a two-piece affair — a cable that plugs into the wall on one end and had a figure-of-8 socket on the other end, and the actual charger itself that connected to the laptop. I bought a US (and in this case, Japanese) style power cable to replace the cable that plugged into the wall, and used that instead of the factory Aus/NZ one.

      That said, take a look at the Ceptics GP-12PK Plug Set mentioned above — there’s an image on the Amazon listing that shows a three-prong Aus/NZ plug being plugged into one of the adapters, and I’m pretty sure the inputs are the same for all of the adapters in that kit, including the Type A one. Annoyingly it doesn’t look like they sell that particular adapter separately, only as part of the kit, but at least it may solve your problem both in Japan and wherever else you travel to.

  2. Avatar

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for your advice. I’m mainly travelling in Europe and the UK and I organised my travel adaptors for them some time ago. I forgot that I’d need something for a short stop-over in Japan however, and it’s too late to do any online purchasing now. My best solution is to buy a US adaptor and to saw off the earth pin. However, I do have some concern that the power supply is supposed to be earthed (grounded) and no adaptor solution will resolve this. Although, I expect that it doesn’t really matter.

    I am also carrying my smart phone and a 10” tablet, and I have a charger for them that is inherently a type-A (Japan) plug and which comes with an adaptor for Australian power outlets, so I’ll be able to use that. I’ll only be in Japan for a two-day, three-night, stop-over, so I’m sure that I can live without the laptop!

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