The 5 Best Travel Adapters and Converters in 2020
If you’re traveling abroad, one of the most important things on your packing list is one of the best travel adapters.
You need the right kind of adapter or converter to make sure your electronics work while you travel. You should know the difference between a travel adaptor and converter, what the four most common types of electrical outlets are, and what features to get.
See the best travel adapters and what you need to know about them before you make a purchase.
#1 EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
This adapter has AUS, EU, US, and UK outlets, four USB ports, and an 8-pin AC socket. It comes with a sleek travel bag and a two-feet detachable power cord. Features include:
- 1-year limited warranty
- 2 USB outlets for tablets or cameras and two for mobile phones
- 4 types of outlets
#2 Bonazza World Travel Plug Power Adapter
If your devices aren’t dual voltage (or if you’re uncertain), we highly recommend getting an adapter and converter combo as this will prevent your electronics from being destroyed. Our favorite is this option from Bonanza. Features include:
- Compact size
- Electrical current reduction from 220-240V to 110-120V
- Four types of outlets
#3 Ceptics Plug Adapter Set
Want the benefits of a universal adapter but not the bulk? The Ceptics Plug adapter set may be the best travel adapter for you. It’s small, affordable, and has the most common plugs. Features include:
- Affordable price
- AUS, EU, US, UK, and a rare European outlet
- Labeled outlets
#4 Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter
The Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter has built-in surge protection, but because of the affordable price tag. It also has three outlets and one USB port so you can charge up to four devices at the same time.
- 4 types of outlets: AUS, EU, US, and UK
- 4 outlets
- Surge protection
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll likely want to invest in a universal travel adapter rather than purchase multiple adapters.
Our top choice is the EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter.
This adapter has four types of outlets (AUS, EU, US, and UK), four USB ports (two for tablets and cameras and two for mobile phones), and an eight-pin AC socket. It comes with a sleek travel bag and a two-feet detachable power cord.
It is best 110V devices and gadgets (i.e., no high-powered devices) and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and one-year limited warranty.
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter Pros
- Eight-pin AC socket: This style accepts most types of plug designs.
- Outlet options: This adapter works for AUS, EU, US, and UK outlets.
- Power cord: It comes with a two-foot detachable cable.
- Travel bag: The included case makes it so that you won’t have to worry about the adapter getting scratched.
- USB ports: The adapter comes with two USB ports for tablets and two for mobile phones.
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter Cons
- No power conversion: This tool is an adapter, not a converter. Make sure all devices that you plug in are dual voltage.
Best Value: Ceptics Plug Adapter Set
Want the benefits of a universal adapter but not the bulk? The Ceptics Plug adapter set may be the best travel adapter for you.
It has slide-out power plugs, so you only need to bring the plugs relevant to the country you’re visiting.
Similar to others on our list, this adapter is solely an adapter, not a converter, so make sure your devices are dual voltage.
We love this adapter for a variety of reasons. It’s small, affordable, and has the four most common plugs: AUS, EU, US, and UK as well as an additional, more rare plug used in some European countries.
Ceptics Plug Adapter Set Pros
- 5 types of outlets: This adapter supports AUS, EU, US, and UK outlets, as well as a rarely-used European outlet.
- Affordable price: This adapter costs less than $10, making it more affordable than most universal adapters.
- Easy to use: The plugs have labels so you’ll know which to use in each country.
- Travel bag: You won’t have to worry about scratches because you can put it in the included bag.
Ceptics Plug Adapter Set Cons
- USB ports: This adapter does not have any USB ports.
- Noisy design: Some travelers say it emits a noise.
Best Adapter and Converter Combo: Bonazza World Travel Plug Power Adapter
If your devices aren’t dual voltage (or if you’re uncertain), we highly recommend getting an adapter and converter combo. This feature will prevent your electronics from being destroyed if the voltage is the wrong type for your devices.
Our favorite worldwide travel adapter is the Bonazza World Travel Plug Power Adapter.
This adapter can handle up to 2,000W, making it a perfect choice for higher-wattage electronics and appliances that many adapters or converters cannot handle.
It’s sleek looking and works in over 150 countries by converting foreign electricity from 220-240V to 110-120V.
Bonazza World Travel Plug Pros
- 4 types of outlets: This adapter works with AUS, EU, US, and UK outlets.
- 2000 watts: This adapter can handle large appliances.
- Compact size: This tool won’t take up a lot of room in your suitcase.
- Converter feature: The adapter reduces electrical current from 220-240V to 110-120V
Bonazza World Travel Plug Cons
- USB ports: This adapter doesn’t have any included USB ports.
Best With USB Ports: Syncwire USB Charger Plug
If you’re looking for an adapter that can simultaneously charge your laptop and USB-friendly devices, this is our top pick.
However, if you’re looking for an adapter that specializes in USB devices, take a look at the Syncwire USB Charger Plug.
After all, if all of your chargeable devices charge via USB, why go for something larger?
While other adapters have U.S. outlets built-in, the Syncwire has four USB ports.
You don’t need a converter: it will automatically adjust the voltage as necessary.
The device comes with a lifetime warranty and is small so that it won’t take up much space in your carry-on.
- Included converter: No separate converter is necessary. This device automatically adjusts the charge.
- Lifetime warranty: The device has a lifetime warranty.
- Small size: The device is small, so it’s perfect for people traveling with carry-on luggage.
- USB ports: This device can charge phones, tablets, and other devices through USB ports.
- USB only: If you want to use a converter for your hairdryer, straightener, or other non-USB compatible devices, this is not the best adapter for you.
Best With Surge Protector: Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter
If you’ve ever gone abroad and tried to use your non-dual voltage hairdryer in an adapter, you may know the heartache that can occur when your device gets fried.
It’s one thing when it happens to a hairdryer, but it’s worse when it happens to a camera, iPad, cell phone, or other expensive electronics.
If you’re worried about frying a device, consider investing in an adapter with a built-in surge protector. Our favorite is the Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter.
The Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter has built-in surge protection, but it’s also affordable. It also has three outlets and one USB port so you can charge up to four devices at once.
Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter Pros
- 4 types of outlets: You can use this adapter in AUS, EU, US, and UK outlets.
- Multiple devices: Four outlets means you can charge up to four devices at the same time.
- Surge protection: This tool protects your devices from destruction due to high voltage.
- USB port: The adapter has one USB port so that you can easily connect your USB devices.
Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter Cons
- No converter: This is simply an adapter, not a converter. All devices you use with it need to be dual voltage.
Travel Adapters vs. Converters
If you’ve ever traveled to another country, you know that plugs and outlets vary depending on where you are.
An outlet in Europe does not look like an American outlet. Nor does it function like one.
What you may not know is that there are 15 kinds of electrical outlets in the world. If you want to use your American appliance in another country, you’re going to need something to help. You’ll need either a travel adapter or a converter.
Electric voltage is usually one of two options:
- In most countries, the electrical voltage is 220/250V.
- In the U.S., the electric voltage is 110/120V.
If you plug an American device that uses 110/120V into an outlet that transmits 220/240V, the device will be destroyed. This is where travel adapters and travel converters help.
A travel adaptor has two sides: one fits your American plug, and the other plugs into the outlet. It’s like an extension cord, but the outlet plug is made to fit a different socket.
Travel adaptors do not alter the electrical voltage. You cannot plug your 110/120V electric toothbrush into a travel adaptor and then connect the adaptor into a European socket and expect it to work.
For an American appliance to work in Europe through a travel adaptor, that appliance must be dual voltage, meaning it can be used with both 110/120V and 220/240V. Check before assuming that your device is dual voltage.
If all of the devices you want to bring abroad are dual voltage, a travel adaptor may be the best option for you. If not, you’ll want a travel converter.
Physically, travel converters are similar to travel adaptors. One side fits your American plug, and you can plug the other side into an outlet.
Unlike travel adaptors, however, travel converters alter the electrical voltage before it hits your device.
A European outlet wants to send 220/240V of electricity to your device. The travel converter intercepts this voltage, steps it down, and then sends a reduced amount to your device. This conversion protects your items from damage.
You’ll need a travel converter rather than a travel adaptor if your items aren’t dual voltage.
Common Types of Electrical Outlets
The US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration (ITA) has grouped outlets into 15 different categories, each of which is assigned a letter between A and O.
We’ll go over the common types.
The U.S. has two primary kinds of plugs known as Type A and Type B to fit into different wall outlets.
Both A and B plugs are in Canada, Mexico, and even Japan. These plugs are 100/120V with a standard frequency of 60 Hz.
Most of Europe uses the same type of plug, which is a two-pronged powerpoint known as a type C plug.
This type of plug is also in Argentina, Morocco, Thailand, China, and Egypt. It uses 220/240V.
This is the type of plug you’ll see in most of Europe, but you won’t find it in the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, or Malta.
The UK uses a G plug. It looks different from most of the plugs used in Europe because it has three rectangular blades in a triangle pattern. While physically different, it operates at 230V, which is the same as the rest of Europe.
The G plug is also in Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Australia and New Zealand have three-pronged plugs known as I plugs. The prongs are rectangular blades in a triangle pattern but are angled differently than those in the UK.
The voltage is 240, and most electrical devices operate between 220-240V.
Some areas of Argentina also use this type of plug.
Plugs and Voltages
US outlets have the lowest voltage at 110-120V while the EU, UK, and Australia support 220-240V.
If you want to bring your American hairdryer to France, Italy, the UK, Australia, or many other countries, you’ll need a travel converter to reduce the voltage from 220-240V to 110-120V.
However, as the UK, EU, and Australia all operate within 220-240V, you can use a travel adaptor if you want to use your French hairdryer in Australia. You won’t need to soften the voltage.
Travel Adapters Buyer’s Guide
If you’re traveling outside the U.S. and want to charge or use any other type of electronic device, you’ll likely need a travel adapter or converter.
If all of your devices are dual voltage, you’ll be fine using a travel adapter. However, if they are not dual voltage, invest in a travel converter. At least one of these should be on every list of packing tips for people who travel abroad. They’re as essential as travel rewards credit cards.
Here are a few of the things to look at when you purchase an adapter or converter for your trip.
If you’re only going to one country (or a series of countries with the same outlets), you’ll likely want a non-universal adapter.
An adapter for a specific outlet is cheaper, smaller, and easier to use. Figure out what kind of outlet that country uses, and you’ll know what type of adapter to purchase.
However, if you travel frequently or if you never know if you’ll be in Europe, South Africa, or the Middle East, get a universal adapter that will work no matter where you go. A universal adapter is ideal for digital nomads and business travelers.
You can also get an adapter plug set to swap out the ones you need for each trip and each outlet type.
Number of Ports
Some travel adapters have multiple ports, and some only have one.
Which one you need depends on how many devices you want to charge or use at the same time.
Before purchasing a new adapter, make a list of all of the devices and appliances you’ll want to use with the adapter. Examples could include your laptop, smartphone, hairdryer, straightener, electric razor, electric toothbrush, and so on.
If any of these devices use a USB cord, you’ll want to purchase an adapter with USB ports. If not, figure out how many devices you’ll need to charge or use at the same time.
Most people can get by with an adapter with only one port as long as the adapter has USB ports too.
Universal vs. Non-Universal
As we’ve already mentioned, you can buy universal and non-universal adapters:
- Non-universal adapters: This type of adapters convert one kind of voltage to another. Thus, if you’re going to France and don’t plan on going to the UK, a non-universal adapter will work fine. Non-universal adapters are smaller than universal ones and tend to work better. They’re also cheaper, which is always a bonus.
- Universal adapters: You can use these tools in many different countries. Universal adapters have multiple outlets and multiple plugs, so they are perfect if you travel to different regions. Unfortunately, they’re big and bulky, and the sockets tend to be looser fitting than non-universal adapters.
If your international travels are far and few between, we recommend getting a non-universal adapter.
If you’re a frequent flier and love jetting off to new exotic countries, a universal adapter will likely be better suited for you.
Thankfully most devices can now be charged via USB ports.
We recommend investing in an adapter with at least two USB ports so you can charge your phone, tablet, kindle, and other devices. The more charging ports you have, the more devices you can have simultaneously charging.
An adapter plug or plug set is essential to charge your USB devices and cell phones when you travel abroad. Instead of a power strip or regular wall charger, a travel plug with an adapter can keep your devices safe.
Use our top picks and our buying guide to help you make the right choice for your next trip.Read More