Charging all the equipment

The Best Travel Power Adapters in 2019

By Dave Dean Accessories6 Comments


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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.

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 from the garbage. We’ve been using travel adapters for decades, though, and have come up with six of the very best travel adapter options worth buying in 2019.

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 USB Devices: iKits 4-Port USB Wall Charger
  • Size: 2.8 x 1.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Type: Universal (clip-on plugs)
  • USB Sockets: 4
  • Works In: 150+ 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


Best Budget Option: Insten Universal Travel Adapter
  • Size: 3.0 x 2.0 x 4.0 inches
  • Weight: 0.64 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

Want to know more? Here you go!


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

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, plus unusually, a USB-C socket on the side as well.

Total USB output is 5.6 amps, with a maximum per-port output of 2.4 amps for the USB-A sockets, and 3 amps for the USB-C. Depending on your devices, that’s enough to charge a couple of phones or tablets at 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 with a wide range of devices, and had no problems simultaneously charging my 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.

Best Lightweight Option: Flight 001 4-In-1

Flight 001 travel adapter

If you’re traveling carry-on only and want something small, light, and reliable, take a look at this Flight 001 model.

It’s a universal adapter, but rather than being a typical chunky brick, it’s made up of four lightweight, color-coded pieces that slot neatly together as required, 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.

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

Ceptics 12-piece travel adapter set

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.

Best for USB Devices: iKits 4-Port USB Wall Charger

iKits USB travel adapter

If your charging needs tend more towards phones and Kindles than laptops and hair dryers, you’re best to buy a slightly different type of travel adapter. This iKits model has four standard USB-A ports that can output up to 2.4 amps from a single socket, or 6.8 amps (34W) in total.

In real-world terms, that means you’ll be able to simultaneously charge a pair of smartphones or tablets, 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’ve been using a very similar model for several years, and it’s probably the most useful travel accessory I own.

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

Bestek adapter

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 hair dryers and straighteners, but smaller gadgets like electric toothbrushes 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 6.8 amps 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.

Best Budget Option: Insten Universal Travel Adapter

Insten travel adapter

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

Sold under a variety of 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 equipment 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. It eventually stopped working, so I bought another one exactly the same, and still use it to this day.

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

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

Ceptics World Travel Set

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? Take a look at the company’s World Travel Adapter Plug Set, which lets you do exactly that.

This all-in-one set comes with a multi-outlet adapter that includes two type B (North American-style) outlets, two USB-A sockets, and an inbuilt micro-USB cable, letting you 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, which helps 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 mains-powered devices need to have type A/B plugs.


Main image via MIKI Yoshihito (CC BY 2.0), all other images via respective manufacturers

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 20 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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