In a recent tip (travelinglikeapro.com/2023/09/07/travel-tip-201/), you learned about the necessity of making sure that the power supplies for your electronic equipment are dual-voltage capable. You don’t want to end up like I did in Australia with a pair of burned-out speakers because its power supply was single (110V only) voltage. What a bad smell, but at least nothing was hurt, except for my pride!
Remember that if you’re going to Mexico or Canada, or other countries that are 110Volt, and use the same plug types as in the U.S., you need to do nothing! Well … maybe nothing.
What do you do when the power cords for your valuable technology equipment have the standard 3-prong end similar to the picture here, AND the wall plug is only 2-prong?
The solution is actually quite simple; you need a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter. You can buy these at your local hardware or electrical supply store, and they shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars each. You’ll notice that the 2-prong side has one wider prong, just like many regular 2-prong plugs. I would carry at least two of the 3-prong grounded to 2-prong ungrounded plugs like the pictures here. Why “at least two”?
You’ll probably need at least one of them, perhaps even two. And when you notice another traveler struggling (and perhaps even saying a few things!), you can be a hero and offer one of yours. You have just made that person’s day. Good job!
It should be pretty obvious that this plug (either the 3-prong to 2-prong adapter, or your regular 2-prong plug from your power supply) for your 110V device isn’t going to work in the 220V-240V outlets in other countries. Sound complicated? It really isn’t; there are two simple steps:
1. You’ve already done the first step, and that was to convert from a 3-prong output to a 2-prong output, if necessary.
2. The next step is to use an adapter that takes the 2-prong plug that you are now using, and you plug it into the 220V-240V outlet.
In addition to your 3-prong to 2-prong adapters, you will want to have several of the plug adapters for the area(s) where you are going. In another travel tip, you’ll learn more about the adapters that are the main style in most Continental European countries. The pictures below, going from left to right, show some inexpensive plug adapters for the U.K., Continental Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. These adapters are for the 220V-240V outlets, and they are referred to as types G, C, and I, respectively.
A good reference for these plug types, and their derivations is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country. You will notice that some countries have outlets that accept a third prong, typically the grounding plug. Most adapters you’ll find don’t have that grounding plug because the 2-prong plug can be used in both the 2-prong and the 3-prong outlet.
There are some travel sites that sell a package of these adapters, but I prefer to buy them individually, and not have to carry a package of them with me. Plus, you’ll find that you won’t need as many of one type (if you’re not going down under, for example) as you will for the others (Europe, possibly).
The reason that you need the 3-prong to 2-prong adapter as described above becomes apparent when you look at the other side of these 3 adapters. You’ll see that most of them, especially the narrow ones, have only two slots for the input—thus, the need for the 3-to-2 adapter.
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Happy Travels — Thanks for reading!
Stuart Gustafson, America’s International Travel Expert®