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How Do I Use My Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe

Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe – In today’s connected world, it’s more important than ever before to be able to access our network at any time. Fortunately, these days we have plenty of different options, Verizon, T Mobile, AT&T, and Straight Talk.

You can still use your cell phone while traveling to Europe if you plan properly and use all of the tools at your disposal. One word of advice: Don’t just use your plan without speaking with your provider. You could rack up hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in roaming fees. Compare this to something simple like a $10 a day extra fee — just by a bit of pre-planning.

Avoid sticker shock with your next phone bill by being smart and planning in advance.

Many travelers prefer to use their own cell phones while traveling to Europe. Some people even like to bring their other mobile devices for email, communications, watching videos, browsing the Web and so on.

The good news is, it isn’t that difficult to use your smartphone in Europe (or Traveling to Asia) to access the Internet, make calls or text. The following explains everything you need to do.

Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe

Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe

Using My Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe: Talk To Your Current Provider

Your current provider probably has some kind of international plan that will allow you to use your cell phone while traveling to Europe. People go on vacations all of the time, so it is not outside of the realm of possibility that they have some sort of package that would work best for you.

Your Smartphone cell plan provider in advance and speak with them about your options. Make sure that you cancel your international plan when you return home! Tips for Traveling Internationally

How to Use Your Smartphone in Europe

If you are from the United States, Canada, Mexico, or another country, traveling with your smartphone in Europe means additional fees, be it for calls, text or other types of data access.

If you are going to use your own phone, decide first how you intend to use it (for calls only, for text, the web, etc.). You can use your regular plan for calls, text and web browsing, but it will be more expensive.

There are international service plans you can sign up for a lower cost, i.e. flat fee or limiting you to a specific number of megabytes.

Before doing any of these, make sure first that your phone does work in Europe (you can check with your carrier), and then check the international rates.

Before you go to Europe, activate your phone’s international service or call your carrier and ask them to turn on international roaming for data, voice, text or whatever service you plan to use.

Once your phone has been set up, you can access Wi-Fi in Wi-Fi hotspots, which are pretty common in the continent.

What type of phone do I have

The easiest way to find what type of phone you have and what phone model, is to check the settings in your phone.

  1. Go to the Settings or Options menu, scroll to the bottom, and click on ‘About phone’.
  2. The name and model number of your Smartphone will be listed.

Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe and Smartphone Data Plans and Texting

If you want to use smartphone data plans and texting in Europe, keep the following things in mind.

  • First, Europe uses the GSM (“Global System for Mobiles”) system.
  • All American carriers use GSM except Verizon and Sprint that use CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

However, this should not be an issue since most smartphones today can connect to both network systems.

European SIM Card

European SIM Card

The easiest way to use data plans and text services in Europe is to use international roaming as suggested above. If you find it too expensive, you can sign up for an international data plan which is something your carrier and other services will offer.

The cost will depend on how you plan to use your mobile device, and it’s certainly going to be more expensive if you’re going to watch movies or YouTube videos.

Plan ahead for e-Learning success as well, including a language while you are on holiday. Even a simple language translator website will be helpful for specific words and phrases as you need them.

Get a Local SIM Card

Depending on where you’re traveling, it might make a lot of sense to get a local SIM card. In order to install your SIM card, you will need to unlock your phone. Many carriers will allow you to do this as long as the phone is paid for.

If your carrier pushes back on unlocking your phone, you can always have it unlocked once you arrive in Europe. There is no real standard of excellence for having your phone unlocked by a local shop, so make sure that you check around and get solid references before you go this route.

Once your phone is unlocked you can use your local SIM card with ease! Make sure that you keep your American SIM in a safe spot because you’ll need it when you return home.

Using a European SIM Card

The simplest and most practical option is to use a European SIM card, and you can get these from various European mobile carriers. In most cases you’re going to have to unlock your phone so it can use the SIM card from other carriers.

The majority of US smartphones are locked, and you may want to get in touch with your mobile company for assistance on unlocking it. If you’d rather unlock your smartphone yourself, download software that unlocks smartphones and use their codes to unlock your device.

There are several services like these available online and the process is fairly straightforward:

  1. Pay the fee
  2. Provide some info about the phone on the website
  3. The service will email you the code to unlock your mobile
  4. Once your phone is unlocked, you can look for a SIM card in mobile phone stores, electronics counters and in some cases, vending machines.

These SIM cards cost anywhere from 4 to 8 euros, and they don’t come with any commitment or contract. If you want a SIM card with data access good for a month, expect to pay around 13 to 25 euros for the card.

Before you buy, take a look at your smartphone and make sure that the card is compatible. Some mobile devices like the iPhone use a different type of nano-SIM card, so make certain the card fits your phone.

Talk to the clerk and check the rates for calls and to and from the European countries you will be visiting. Use the same approach for texting.

  1. Once you’ve got a SIM card that works with your smartphone, ask the store personnel to install it and do a test call.
  2. Turn your mobile on, enter the PIN and if necessary switch the language to English.
  3. Don’t forget to record the PIN number and ask how to check the credit balance.

In some European countries, your SIM card may have to be registered along with your passport for security reasons. Follow the instructions and after an hour or two you’ll be able to use it.

If you run out of SIM, you can get one in any mobile phone store and tell the salesperson how much credit you want. The clerk is either going to give you the credit over the phone or you will be given a voucher with instructions.

Best Data Plan WiFi Hotspot Devices for Travel

Charging Your Cell Phone in Europe

One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking that you’ll need a costly voltage converter to charge your mobile. In fact, the majority of mobile devices, tablets and laptops have battery chargers that can work on 220 volts used in Europe and countries in the world, as well as 110 volts (the US).

Cell phone chargers can work with different frequencies from 50 Hertz to 60 Hertz. Unless your mobile device specifically says to use a converter, don’t use it because it could actually damage your mobile because it already has a converter.

If you want to know if your cell phone has dual voltage capabilities, read the words on the charger.

  • If your cell phone has dual voltage you will see something like “Input 100 – 240V, 50 – 60 Hz.”
  • Then, if your mobile phone is dual voltage, you still need to use a plug adapter, but not a voltage converter.
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Before going on a trip, you have to keep in mind that all countries have their own electrical system, and that will determine what type of plug adapters you have to use.

In Italy for instance, the majority of outlets are compatible with two round prongs, but bathrooms have three-pronged grounded outlets.

If necessary, you should purchase a multi-country plug adapter if you’re not sure which type of adapter to use. Better yet, you should research the plug adapters that are used in the countries you’re going to visit. Thanks to the Internet, this should be easy, and if you’re not really sure you can always send an email to the website and get clarification.

If you’re only going to bring a cell phone, a single adapter will do. However, if you’re bringing a laptop, tablet, and other devices, it’s best to have several adapters as your hotel room might only have a few electrical outlets available.

In some cases you also have to plug an adapter into another before you can use it. For instance, you can put plug a two-pronged adapter onto a three-prong European adapter to make it work.

No matter how many plug adapters you buy, make sure the plug fits in properly.

Prepaid Cell Phones in Europe

There’s no lacking of prepaid cell phones in Europe, but when you buy a GSM prepaid wireless and/or a SIM card, make certain call time is included.

Charging Your Cell Phone in Europe

Charging Your Cell Phone in Europe

If you’re in Germany, you can get a Handy for less than 60 euros which includes a refillable SIM card with prepaid minutes. The set up is usually pay per minute but the cost varies per country.

Almost always, however, it’s cheaper compared to international roaming.

Another option is to buy a GSM phone before leaving for Europe, but if you decide to do this, check the various services online to make sure you get your money’s worth. Once you’ve got your cell phone you can take advantage of the free Wi-Fi available throughout the continent.

Set Up a Mobile Hotspot

If you don’t need to make phone calls, you can always invest in a mobile hotspot. Companies like TEP Wireless, Skyroam, and Keepgo all have mobile hotspot technology.

A hotspot will enable you to log into the internet without using local Wi-Fi. If you want to browse the internet safely and rapidly, a mobile hotspot is really the best way to go. Many accommodations offer Wi-Fi for free, but in hotels there is usually a fee.

The Wi-Fi signal also varies, as in some places it’s great and in others it is less than ideal, which is the reason why many prefer to get a data plan.

Generally speaking, the speed is almost always good enough to send email and browse the web, but it’s not as reliable for watching HD films or video. If you have a dedicated data plan however this won’t be a problem.

All these prepaid cell phones can take advantage of Wi-Fi wherever they’re available, and in most cases, your best bet will be a café. Starbucks and McDonald’s also have Wi-Fi.

You can also get Internet access in popular tourist destinations as well as city squares, some public transit hubs and even trains and buses. In some cases, you will need to register and get the network password to gain access.

As you can see, you can use your cell phone while traveling to Europe in many ways.

With a good data roaming plan plus free Wi-Fi in certain locations, you should have no problem keeping in touch with those around you anywhere they are. Remember, if you have a prepaid cell phone and need more minutes, you can easily buy more airtime.

There was a time when using your mobile device and cell phone while traveling to Europe was expensive, but with all the options now available, you can save money without compromising signal quality.

TEP Wireless vs Skyroam vs Keepgo When Traveling to Europe

One of the first things that you need to consider before embarking on your next whirlwind vacation to Europe is how you will stay connected. There are plenty of providers out there, but TEP Wireless, Skyroam, and Keepgo are the top three choices.

Let’s explore TEP Wireless vs Skyroam VS Keepgo when traveling to Europe.

Keepgo

Keepgo is a fan favorite these days and it’s easy to see why. It offers 4G service that can be used on any corner of the planet, and you can access Keepgo through a variety of different devices.

Get Keepgo SIM cards for your existing smartphone or smartwatch, or use one of their hotspot devices. The data is a little bit on the expensive side, but it is always reliable and you can access it from almost anywhere in the world, making Keepgo a great option for business travelers.

If you need less connectivity and are worried about your pocketbook, the prices might be a little too steep for you!

Skyroam

In the battle of the hotspots, Skyroam clocks in at more affordable but less speedy than Keepgo. It’s a great option for those who want to make sure that they have the internet at their fingers, but don’t necessarily need top speeds.

With coverage spanning the world, Skyroam will relieve you from the hassle of having to tap into unreliable or insecure WiFi when you want to hop online.

It’s a legacy player for a reason, and has amassed something of a cult following since it first came onto the scene. The only real downside is that you won’t be able to get the speeds that you would with a company like Keepgo. If you need service for business purposes, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

TEP Wireless

TEP Wireless has hotspot devices that work with your smartphone or watch. You can also buy or rent a Teppy device, which acts as its own mobile hotspot and lets you get internet anywhere. One of the beautiful things about TEP Wireless is the sheer volume of different options that you have!

When it comes to fast internet, TEP Wireless is a great option, up to a point. They do start to throttle your speed after a certain amount of internet usage, which could become a problem for those who want to use it for business purposes.

As with Skyroam, TEP Wireless can’t compete with Keepgo for the speediest coverage. Alternately, it is a cost-effective option, and TEP Wireless has been around for a long time, so you know that they are a solid company to work with.

So, who wins the battle of TEP Wireless vs Skyroam VS Keepgo when traveling to Europe? It all depends on exactly what you’re looking for from a wireless service provider.

Each option has different strengths and weaknesses, but all of them cover the vast majority of the planet and will work in a pinch if you need wireless service right away.

Find WiFi and Use Chatting Apps

You can also rely on local WiFi for your internet usage. Use caution when selecting which WiFi options you will tap into. Try not to put in too much personal information, especially passport numbers, photos of identification, etc., and don’t access banking data or other sensitive websites when you’re tapped into public WiFi.

Assume that everyone can see what you’re doing because that is probably the case!

There are plenty of chatting apps that allow you to communicate with loved ones back home. Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger are just a few options.

Public WiFi could be a good option for people on shorter trips who just need a little bit of internet for places of interest, hours of operation, maps/directions, language translation and look up, currency questions, and other general travel information.

FREE iPad iPhone Travel Apps for Your Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe

FREE iPad / iPhone Travel Apps – I’ve had my iPod Touch for about two months now, and I’m falling helplessly in love with it more and more every day. It’s my personal assistant, I use it for just about everything.

From reading books, storing recipes and workout exercises to converting currencies, booking hostels and checking the bus/train timetables.

I suppose you could call me an ‘iPad NERD’ – if there is such a thing…

Yeah, I admit I have also found some awesome applications which ONLY work for the iPhone, so I won’t lie and say I never wish I had one of those as well – but then again I like my cellphone, it’s pink!

Anyways, today I am going to share with you the best FREE Travel Apps out there right now! These are free iPad / iPhone travel apps.

Hostel Hero

This is an application that finds you the best deals by searching through every hostel website, all over the world. You have Hostelbookers, Hostelworld, etc. all in one place. From here you can book your stay from anywhere. I love it, very easy and simple.

Hostelworld

If you are an avid HostelWorld fan and just want to book through them, they have their very own application for you to book your stays.

Stanza

With this on your iPad you’ll never have to carry another of those brick-like-heavy books in your backpack ever again! You can download hundreds (probably more) of books for FREE on your iPad (yes, in all genres).

Every Trail

Finds many outdoor activities (walking, mountain-biking, skiing, etc.) for you to do, anywhere in the world

What Knot

Shows countless types of knots and how to make them step by step, a skill that can be crucial to know when backpacking, camping, or hiking through the jungle etc. Trust me, you never know when you’ll need it!

Skype (only for iPhone):

Now there really is a cheap way for you to call to other countries.

iTranslate

Translates whole sentences into heaps of different languages. The good thing about this one is that it doesn’t only translate to or from English but from all kinds of languages: Hebrew to Korean, or Hindi to Galician, it’s your choice 😉

Spending Light

Keeps track of your spending and income, how much you spend per day/week/month/year, and what you spend it on (food, clothes, entertainment, beer, etc.). It’s really good to keep you from asking, ”What happened? Where did all the money go??” and can help keep you on track with your travel budget.

Convert Everything

Convert Everything is a complete currency converter. What more do I need to say? This way you know exactly how much your paying anywhere in the world and can quickly determine the value.

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Kayak

Now you can search for flights and hotels with the best online travel search aggregates right from your iPad!

Lonely Planet

The application is free, and you get a Phrase book and one Guide for free. But the rest you’ll have to buy. But if you plan to bring a Lonely Planet guide, I highly recommend you pay for the digital version and bring it in your iPad. It sucks having all that extra weight when you could have it all in your hand.

Google Earth

I love looking at the earth globe – it really gets me into a happy state. I get so excited seeing all these places I want to visit, all cultures I want to see. So what is better than Google Earth?

Wi-Fi Finder

This way you don’t have to run around all streets and corners desperately looking for a Wi-Fi connection, the JiWire application does the job for you.

If you know of anymore apps which I might find useful on my travels, please link me below in the comments! 🙂

messaging apps for traveling

messaging apps for traveling

Using my SmartPhone While Traveling to Europe FAQ

What should I do with my phone when traveling to Europe?

Your options for being able to use your phone while traveling Europe, including how to see if you can get an international plan, how stay connected to 3G by getting a local SIM card, and why a pocket Wi-Fi device might be a good option.

Europe EU recently ended cell phone roaming and roaming charges. Stay connected while on your Europe trip.

Do I need an international phone plan for Europe?

Unless you travel to Europe frequently and your stays are longer than a vacation, it is simpler, more cost effective and easier to set up your own cell phone with international calling and international data plan through your existing cell phone service provider.

Do US cell phones work in Europe?

If you have an iPhone 4s or newer, then yes. But you still need an international roaming plan from your SmartPhone cell plan provider. If you have an older phone or a non-iPhone, it depends on the phone and your carrier.

Europe uses a cell phone system called GSM (Global System for Mobiles) but Verizon and Sprint use CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). All the other major US carriers use GSM, so if you use a mobile service provider other than Verizon and Sprint, you should be able.

The 8 Best Power Adapters for European Travel of 2022

Jessica Macdonald lives in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province and has been TripSavvy’s Africa Expert since 2016. She also covers travel products and has written about everything from camping knives to climbing chalk.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Power Adapters

TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

Allows you to use your single voltage American appliances safely in Europe.

Great for stops in countries that don’t accept the standard Type E/F plug.

With a total weight of 0.11 pounds, the adapter is incredibly lightweight.

The cost-effective solution for American travelers to Europe and Russia.

Keeps things simple for those planning a vacation to the U.K.

Compatible with Type J plugs of the kind used in Switzerland.

Includes one Type L plug for Italy and one Type E/F plug for other European countries.

Specifically designed for use in Denmark.

The Foval Power Step Down 220V to 110V Voltage Converter earned our top pick thanks to its all-in-one adapter and converter features, including its ability to protect against power surges, charge multiple devices at once and that it can be used in more than 150 countries. The OREI European Power Adaptor Plug is a cost-effective solution for a budget-friendly option with similar features.

One thing you don’t want to forget on your next trip to Europe? The right power adapter. Without it, you won’t be able to keep the electronics and devices you need juiced up and ready to go. But finding the right one can be tricky: Each region of the world has its own outlet shape, so you’ll need to find the one that works for your travel destination—or invest in a universal one.

There’s a lot to sort through, so we’ve done the hard work for you. Read on for the best power adapters that will keep your devices charged and ready to go wherever you find yourself in the world.

Best Overall: Foval Power Step Down 220V to 110V Voltage Converter

Foval

While many modern devices can transition automatically between different voltages, some can’t. This is where the Foval Power Step Down Converter comes in. Although it is priced higher than most adapters, it converts 220/240V to 110/120V, allowing you to safely use your single voltage American appliances in Europe. Plus, it comes with a European power cable and three removable adapters for the U.S., the U.K., and Australia so that you can also use it for other trips. This made it convenient for our product tester, Rebekah Joan, to travel with the device, only needing the correct adapter to attach it, plugging it into a socket, and pressing the power button to get it to work.

With two standard U.S. plugs and four 5V/ 2.4A USB ports, you can charge an array of devices simultaneously—just make sure that the total wattage doesn’t exceed 200. “It started making a quiet whirring noise, and in a second or two, our devices were charging at a normal pace,” Joan said. “We charged plenty with it, including our phones, a portable charger, and our camera. Other than the expected slight delay, everything ran smoothly.”

The converter automatically shuts down to prevent overloading, overheating, or short-circuiting, keeping you and your appliances safe. Be wary of using curling irons, hair dryers, or hair straighteners, as Foval notes that it isn’t safe to use with these tools. It is only compatible with devices within the 110- to 120-volt range, which includes most American devices. What makes up for this is the converter’s small size, measuring 4.8 x 3.1 x 1.5 inches for a device that “will save you space and money,” according to our tester. There is also a detachable 5-foot cord for easy packing.

Foval Power Step-Down Voltage Converter

TripSavvy / Rebekah Joan

Price at time of publication: $40

Best Universal: HAOZI Universal Travel Adapter

In addition to a single AC power socket, the HAOZI Universal Travel Adapter features two USB ports—all of which can be used simultaneously. It’s FCC, CE, and RoHS safety-certified, while a lifetime guarantee gives you confidence in your purchase. The downsides? It’s not suitable for use with high-powered appliances, including hair-dryers, and at 2.2 x 3.2 x 2.6 inches, it’s slightly bulkier than your standard single adapter.

If you travel frequently, consider investing in the HAOZI All-in-One Universal Travel Adapter rather than limiting yourself to one exclusively for Europe. Our product tester, Rebekah Joan, tested the adapter’s reliability abroad and noticed a slight delay in the electricity getting from one point to another. “After those few initial seconds, it charged our devices smoothly and without making a sound,” she said. “We did notice a slight issue with some of the prongs getting stuck on the way out, but it was easily fixed by wiggling the slider back and forth.”

Travelers from North America may need a voltage converter for non-dual-voltage devices, but Joan found that the adapter worked well with a converter as it did alone. This is also an excellent purchase for those planning a trip across Europe with stops in countries that don’t accept the standard Type E/F plug. Interchangeable input and outlet sockets allow you to use the power adapter in more than 150 countries.

HAOZI Universal Travel Adapter

TripSavvy / Rebekah Joan

Price at time of publication: $17

Best Lightweight: Travel Ready AC Power Travel Adapter

Designed to be compatible with Type E/F or Schuko plugs, the Travel Ready AC Power Travel Adapter is suitable for use in most European countries (notably excluding Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). Other key features include its solid construction and bright purple color, making it easy to spot and, therefore, less likely to leave plugged into the hotel room socket when you check out. With a total weight of 0.11 pounds, the power adapter is incredibly lightweight yet still large enough to make removing it from the plug socket a breeze. And at 2.7 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches in size, our product tester, Rebekah Joan, says that it “can be fit into virtually any pocket, purse, or bag” for easy travel.

It’s also durable, thanks to a lack of moving parts. You can use its dual ports to charge two electrical devices simultaneously. The input on the front of the plug is universal: It accepts two-prong polarized U.S. plugs; three-prong grounded U.S. plugs; and standard plugs for Europe, the U.K., Australia, and India. This comes in handy if you own foreign appliances you want to use on your European travels. During testing, Joan did not notice any lag in charging time, even when charging two devices simultaneously. An added plus, our tester noticed the adaptor was “pleasantly silent” when it was charging. There is also a built-in surge protector to defend your devices against unexpected voltage spikes. If you don’t mind bringing a converter along with you, Joan doesn’t see this adaptor as a huge issue, but traveling anywhere outside of Europe will prove all of these convenient features as useless.

Travel Ready AC Power Adapter

TripSavvy / Rebekah Joan

Price at time of publication: $15

Best Budget: OREI European Power Adapter Plug

The OREI European Power Adapter Plug is a no-frills and cost-effective solution for American travelers to Europe and Russia. It is compatible with Type E/F plugs and should work in most countries except Italy, Switzerland, and the U.K. Plus; it fits into the recessed, circular plug sockets found in many parts of Western Europe, as well as standard square-faced sockets.

Its newly improved design features internal metal interfaces for better conductivity. The power adapter plug has a maximum capacity of 250V/13A ​and can accommodate devices that require up to 3,000 watts of power (including most hairdryers). Be aware, though, that it is only suitable for dual voltage appliances. You can use the double ports to charge two devices simultaneously—which is especially handy in hotel rooms with limited plug sockets. The universal input accepts plugs from most countries except South Africa.

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Price at time of publication: $10

Best for the U.K.: Ceptics Type G Travel Adapter Plug

Designed in the U.S., the Ceptics Type G Travel Adapter Plug keeps things simple for those planning a vacation to the U.K. (where standard European adapters won’t work). The plug also works for British Overseas Territories and ex-colonies within Europe, including Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as other destinations like Hong Kong and Dubai. Your purchase includes three separate adapters, allowing you to utilize all of the sockets in your hotel room at once.

Each power adapter features two inputs, both of which accept two-prong polarized U.S. plugs or three-prong grounded U.S. plugs. They have a maximum load rating of ​250V and are suitable for dual appliances only. The product’s limited lifetime warranty means you can return faulty adapters for a free replacement.

Price at time of publication: $15

Best for Switzerland: TESSAN Swiss Outlet Adapter for US to Switzerland

The TESSAN Swiss Outlet Adapter comes with three different charging ports: two for USB charging and one for standard U.S. prongs. The USB charging ports can charge up to 2.4A and are compatible with all USB charging devices such as your phone, camera, tablet, and more. It is also the ideal size for travel, measuring just 2.8 x 2.1 x 2.67 inches, and can be used in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and some areas of Rwanda. Plus, the adapter features a blue indicator light to let you know when it is on or off.

A voltage converter is needed with this adapter, as it is only compatible with devices between the voltage range of 100 to 250V.

Price at time of publication: $18

Best for Italy: OREI 2-in-1 USA to Italy Adapter Plug

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, the OREI USA to Italy Travel Adapter Plug is your best choice. The two-pack includes two Type L plugs for charging devices in Italy and the microstate of San Marino. Both adapters feature dual inputs, which allow them to accommodate two U.S. plugs at the same time. One of the inputs is universal and can accept plugs from any country except those that use Type M plugs (e.g., South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho). The adapters are CE-certified and RoHS compliant, giving you added peace of mind.

Price at time of publication: $9

Best for France: TESSAN Type E/F Plug Adapter

Although this type E/F plug can be used in other parts of Europe, such as Germany and Spain, it is especially great if you plan on taking a trip to France. The adapter is considered to be five in one, with two AC outlets for standard US prongs and three USB ports to charge multiple devices at once. It may only be compatible with devices between 100V to 250V, but the plug has an impressive max capacity of 2300-Watt and is lightweight in size.

Price at time of publication: $20

What to Look for in a Power Adapter

Universal use

The general rule is that the more universal the plug, the bulkier it is. If you’re taking a backpacking trip across Europe—or traveling with just a carry-on—get an adapter that’s only designed for Europe. You won’t need the weight or size of one designed for Australia or South America, for example—so why bother?

Number of devices

Consider a charging station if you’re a gadget head bringing plenty of electronics with you. They can handle multiple electronics on the same strip, with USB charging ports and regular outlets to spare. Sure, they’re a little more expensive, but it’s one (or three) fewer things to leave behind in a hotel room.

Price

Simpler adapters tend to be cheaper. Think about how much you want to spend, particularly if this is your first trip out of the U.S. If you have future trips in mind, consider spending a bit more on an adapter that can, well, do more.

Check the adapter’s packaging or online description to see what countries or regions it’s marked as compatible.

A universal adapter is one that has the capabilities of connecting you to many regions’ types of plugs in one single unit. Plug adapters, on the other hand, have different plugs you swap out depending on the region you’re in. Universal adapters tend to be on the bulkier side (a common style is a cube with outlets for multiple regions and even USB chargers built into it). A plug adapter keeps a little lower profile, so if you’re making a point to travel light and are only going to a region or two, this might be your best bet.

Check the voltage of your electronics against the voltage your adapter says it’s converting. (If you’re unsure what it is, Google or look at the instructions or manual for your device.) The voltage shouldn’t be an issue for most generic devices and things like hair straighteners.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Jessica Macdonald is a freelance writer based in South Africa specializing in travel, scuba diving, and wildlife conservation. Besides TripSavvy, Macdonald has written about her scuba diving experiences for Scuba Diver Life and is even a two-time winner of The Telegraph’s Just Back travel writing competition. She also has been TripSavvy’s Africa expert since 2016.

Useful information for travellers

Only use plug adapters if the local mains voltage is the same as at home or if you need to power a multi-voltage device. The above charger is multi voltage: it will work with any voltage between 100 and 240 volts.

Travel adapters do NOT convert the voltage!

What do I need to use my appliances abroad?

What do I need to use my appliances abroad? What is the difference between a plug adapter and an electric converter? Here are the facts. First the good news: in many cases you may not need to carry much with you at all…

Plug adapters (or travel adapters)

Travel adapters simply allow a device from one country to be plugged into the wall outlet of another country. However, they do not convert electricity. The plug of a Continental European appliance will not fit into an outlet in a foreign country without a plug adapter. Since a travel adapter does not convert the voltage, you have to be sure that your appliance can deal with the electricity coming out of the socket. That is why you need to check your device’s voltage listing. “INPUT: 100-240 V” means that your device is multi-voltage and that it will work with any voltage between 100 V and 240 V. Luckily, many travel gadgets (such as laptops or phone chargers) are multi or dual voltage, so you will only need a travel adapter. If your device is single voltage (e.g. “INPUT: 120V”) and you are in Europe where the mains voltage is 230 V, you will need to step down the voltage. Enter the converter or transformer.

Converters

Converters and transformers both step up or down the voltage, but there is a difference in use between them. Converters should be used only with “electric” products. Electric products are simple heating devices or have mechanical motors. Examples are hair dryers, steam irons, shavers, toothbrushes or small fans. Converters are not designed for “continuous duty” and should only be used for short periods of time (1 to 2 hours). Additionally, most converters can only be used for ungrounded appliances (2 pins on the plug). Converters must be unplugged from the wall when not in use.

Transformers

Transformers also step up or down the voltage, but they are more expensive than converters and are used with “electronic” products. Electronic products have a chip or circuit. Transformers can also be used with electric appliances and may be operated continually for many days. The advantage of converters, however, is that they are lighter and less expensive.

Computers are electronic devices and therefore they must be used with a transformer, unless they are dual voltage. Fortunately, nowadays all laptop, tablet and phone chargers are dual voltage, so they can be used with only a travel adapter.

Transformers are sold in various sizes based on how much wattage they can support. Therefore you must pay careful attention to the wattage ratings of the appliances to be plugged into a transformer. The wattage rating of the transformer should always be larger than the wattage rating of the appliance to be plugged into it (plus a 25% buffer to allow for heat build-up in the transformer or converter). When plugging multiple items into a power strip, then into the transformer, you have to calculate the combined wattage of all appliances and the power strip, then add an additional 25% to that total.

The appliance’s voltage and wattage requirements are listed on the manufacturer’s label located on the back or at the bottom of the appliance. In some cases, the voltage and amperage will be listed, but not the wattage. If this is the case, simply multiply the voltage by the amperage rating to find the wattage rating (e.g. 230 V * 2 A = 460 W).

Below is a list that gives an idea what the wattage of common appliances is. Use this as a guide only. Always check your appliance first!

  • 100 watts (or less): small, low-wattage appliances such as small fans, printers and desktop computers.
  • 300 watts: most TVs, electric blankets and refrigerators.
  • 500 watts: blenders, projectors and home cinema systems.
  • 1000 watts: small heaters and stand mixers.
  • 1600 – 2000 watts: hair dryers, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, most appliances that have heating elements such as convector heaters, toasters, deep-frying pans, irons, grills and coffee makers.
  • 3000 watts: tumble dryers and big air conditioners.

Transformers and converters only convert the voltage, not the frequency. The difference in cycles may cause the motor in a 50 Hz appliance to operate slightly faster when used on 60 Hz electricity. This cycle difference will cause electric clocks and timing circuits to keep incorrect time: European alarm clocks will run faster on 60 Hz electricity and American clocks will lose some 10 minutes every hour when used in Europe. However, most modern electronic equipment like phone chargers, laptops, printers, etc. are usually not affected by the difference in cycles and adjust themselves automatically.

Source https://aswetravel.com/how-do-i-use-my-cell-phone-while-traveling-to-europe/

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/best-power-adapters-for-european-travel-1508193

Source https://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/information-for-travellers/

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