In a traveler’s perfect world, every country would run on the same type of electricity and use outlets that fit the same kinds of plugs. Unfortunately for us globetrotters, this isn’t the case, and when we travel overseas we’re faced with the oftentimes head-scratching task of choosing the right adapter (or should it be a converter?) for our electronics. To help you prepare for your upcoming trips overseas, here’s our guide to power adapters and converters to keep your devices safe and working properly.
Adapters vs. converters
The big difference between an adapter and a converter is electricity. While the purpose of an adapter is to simply help the plugs on your electronics fit into (or more aptly, adapt to the shape of) foreign outlets, a converter’s job is to change the voltage found in an outlet to match that of your devices.
When to use a converter
Thankfully, the kinds of appliances that typically need a converter are single-voltage items, which more often than not, tend to be older-model irons and hair dryers. The majority of modern-made electronics are dual- or multi-voltage, meaning that they are able to withstand more than one type of electricity and therefore, only require an adapter. If you’re unsure whether or not you’ll need one, take a look at the chart below or check out the labels on your appliances and chargers for their specific requirements.
Single voltage (i.e. 100-120V)
- Common appliances: Older irons and hair dryers
- Converter needed? Yes
Dual voltage (i.e. 120V/240V)
- Common appliances: Newer hair dryers, electric razors, toothbrushes, etc.
- Converter needed? No
Multi voltage (i.e. 100-240V)
- Common appliances: Cell phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, etc.
- Converter needed? No
Choosing the right adapter
So, exactly which style of adapter will you need? The answer depends on where you’re headed. This handy guide will help you determine which types of adapter plugs you should pack when you’re getting ready for tour. If your tour spans multiple countries that use different outlets, or you’re a frequent jetsetter, we suggest picking up a universal, all-in-one travel adapter.
Outlet types A and B
These are the two types of outlets that we use here in the U.S. and in Canada. If you’re traveling to Japan, the Caribbean or most locations in Central and South America you’re in luck—you shouldn’t need an adapter or a converter for your trip.
Outlet types C, E and F
Outlet type G
Outlet type I
Still need help? A complete list of countries and their adapter plug models can be found here.