When you’re traveling overseas, a good travel adapter is as essential as your passport. At minimum, it should be reliable, a travel gadget you can be sure isn’t going to start a minor electrical fire or ruin your valuable electronics, yet compact enough to stow away in your carry-on suitcase. But otherwise, finding the best travel adapter really depends on what kind of traveler you are. So I spoke with six frequent travelers about their go-to plug and international adapters to find the best travel adapter for every type of trip, whether you’re looking for a straightforward European plug adapter for your first trip to Paris or a universal plug adapter that you can bring with you on a yearlong world tour.
If you’re only visiting one country on a casual, weeklong vacation, or don’t frequently travel abroad, you don’t really need to invest in a major universal power adapter. For years, travel writer (and former New York Times Frugal Traveler columnist) Matt Gross rotated through a series of single plug adapters. “Depending on where I’m going, I take the pieces I need,” he explains. And though this system isn’t as sleek as some of the other universal adapters on this list, it’s also arguably the easiest to use, as well as the most cost-effective, since these adapters can cost as little as $5. This one even has two outlets.
If you are a frequent traveler, and regularly struggle with finding enough outlets in hotel rooms or Airbnbs, you’ll want to look into getting a travel power strip. Gross just bought the well-reviewed Accell Home or Away for an upcoming megatrip. “Most of the time, I haven’t really needed one, but with a multi-country trip coming up, it seems like a good idea to just have one in my bag, ready to use.” It’s got three three-prong plugs and two USB outlets, with a back plug that folds away when not in use, and though it’s best for domestic travel, since it doesn’t come with universal plugs, it’s easy to convert, especially if you already have a collection of single adapters on hand.
Matthew Kepnes, founder of Nomadic Matt and author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter, uses this simple universal plug adapter, with two USB ports and one main outlet, on his travels. “It works for everywhere, is cheap, and comes with USB ports. I think it’s the best, and it has everything you need!” This simple style of plug adapter is a solid option for folks who are mostly charging headphones, cell phones, and other portable gadgets while traveling, rather than major electronics like cameras or laptops.
If you’ve got a few more small gadgets that you want to charge, or are traveling with a partner who also needs to charge their phone, Oneika Raymond, travel journalist and host of Travel Channel’s Big City, Little Budget and One Bag and You’re Out, likes the all-in-one charger from Epicka. “It covers 150 countries and has four USB ports, which means it’s possible to charge five devices at once.”
If you are in need of a more heavy-duty way to plug in larger electronics while overseas, the Bestek Universal Travel Adapter comes highly recommended. Like the Epicka, this one has four USB ports, but it’s also got three power outlets and a five-foot-long power cord, which is ideal for rooms with inconveniently placed outlets. Kathryn Sheldon, director, producer, and photographer who often travels overseas with her camera gear, calls it a “godsend” for safe charging (though not for hair dryers, sorry). “It’s a little bulkier than just buying a simple plug adapter, but I won’t travel internationally without it now.”
This adapter is still pretty compact, though. “It weighs just 1.2 pounds, so I can stuff it in a carry-on, no fuss,” says Ashlea Halpern, editor-at-large for AFAR Media and co-founder of Cartogramme. “And it never overheats or short-circuits! The last thing I want to do is blow out my laptop in middle-of-nowhere, Vietnam. Best of all, the plug adapters and E.U. plug cable fit outlets all over the world: North America, the U.K. and Continental Europe, India, China, Australia, the Middle East. I reckon this adapter is the only thing I carry on my person that’s as well-traveled as my passport.”
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