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Frequently asked questions about travel power adapters

Power adapters are an essential item for many international travellers. Available in country-specific and universal forms, they allow one to travel abroad with the comfort of their devices from home.

What is a travel power adapter?

Travel power adapters are plugs that convert power outlet shape to suit region-specific needs.

Some countries, like Canada and the US, use the same voltage and power sockets. When you travel with devices from one to the other, you won't need a travel power adapter for your devices.

However, other locations may use different outlet shapes and voltages. For instance, a plug that fits into a power socket in Canada won't fit into a normal wall outlet in the UK, Italy, Greece, or Japan without a travel power adapter. Even if you were to make a Canadian plug fit into a British wall socket, the voltage running through the walls is significantly higher, which will short out a single voltage device without the use of both a travel adapter and a power converter.

A travel adapter gives you the ability to use dual-voltage electronic devices while abroad without causing electrical damage.

What is the difference between a wall charger and travel adapter?

Wall chargers connect to a wall socket and allow you to charge your devices. They may have a fixed connector on their other end to charge a specific device such as a laptop or camera, or they may have a USB receptacle to plug in the charging cable of your choice.

Travel adapters work in tandem with wall chargers. When travelling to a region that uses a different power system, you would first plug your travel adapter into the wall, then plug your wall charger into the adaptor.

What travel adapter do I need?

You can get both universal travel adapters and region-specific adaptor plugs. If you travel to different locations frequently, a universal adaptor will help you use your devices no matter where you go. If you travel to one destination repeatedly, however, some users prefer the solid feel of a region-specific power adapter.

For extra protection, make sure that the devices you are plugging into your travel adapter are designed for dual-voltage use. If they are not, you may need an additional power transformer or voltage converter depending on your device and destination. Most phones, laptops, and hair straighteners today are designed to be dual-voltage and only need a basic power adapter when you travel, but some may require the user to manually toggle a voltage switch on the device in addition to the adapter.