How to Charge Your Electronic Devices on Your Overseas Vacation

phone charger
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Sometimes the practicalities of planning a trip to another country can be quite daunting.  Even the simple act of charging a cell phone or tablet can present problems. The idea of a hotel room with just one electrical outlet is enough to make us break out in goose bumps. How will we charge our electronic devices while we travel?

Advance planning will help you keep your electronic devices charged and ready to use.

There are several things you will need to consider as you prepare for your trip.

Determine Whether You Need an Adapter or Converter

Some travelers assume they need expensive voltage converters to charge their electronic devices. In reality, most laptop computers, tablets, cell phones and camera battery chargers are dual voltage, meaning they will work on 110 volts (in the US or Canada) and on 220 volts (in Europe and most other parts of the world) and will work with electric frequencies ranging from 50 Hertz to 60 Hertz. In fact, many electronic devices will be damaged or destroyed by voltage converters.

To find out whether your electronic device is dual voltage, you will need to read the tiny words written on the bottom of your device or charger. You may need a magnifying glass to read the print. If your device is dual voltage, you will see something like "Input 100 – 240V, 50 – 60 Hz." If your device is indeed dual voltage, you will need a plug adapter to use it, not a voltage converter.

Pack Only the Devices You Really Need

Take a few moments to review the capabilities of your mobile devices and the costs to use them in another country. Bring only those devices you will use regularly. This will minimize your charging time and keep data roaming charges down. If you do not know how much it will cost to use your cell phone or tablet in your destination country, contact your service provider and ask.

If one device, such as a tablet, can do everything that your laptop and cell phone can, bring that device and leave the rest at home.

Determine Which Plug Adapters to Bring

Each country determines its own electrical distribution system and type of electrical outlet. In the United States, for example, two-pronged plugs are the standard, although three-pronged grounded plugs are also very common. In Italy, most outlets take plugs with two round prongs, although bathrooms, if they have any outlets, often have three-pronged (round prongs, all in a row) grounded outlets. Buy a multi-country plug adapter if you are not sure which type of adapter to bring, or research the types of plug adapters commonly needed for your destination country and bring those.

You should bring several adapters if you plan to charge more than one electronic device per day. Your hotel room may only have a few electrical outlets. Some outlets may be in better condition than others, and some may be grounded outlets rather than standard ones. You may even need to plug one adapter into another in order to use it.

Test Your Adapters Before Leaving Home

Obviously, you can't plug your adapters into an outlet that is hundreds of miles away, but you can determine which electronic device plugs fit into your collection of adapters.

Be sure the plug fits snugly into the adapter; a floppy fit will create current flow problems when you try to charge your electronic device.

Find Creative Solutions to Charging Problems

In spite of all of your planning and testing, you may discover that the outlets in your hotel room do not work with your plug adapters. Try various combinations of adapters – plug them into each other – and check every outlet in the room to see if you can find one that is compatible. If your charger does not stay plugged in, stack guidebooks, battery chargers (see photo) and tissue boxes – or whatever you have – and place the stack under the adapter to support it. If you have the wrong adapter, ask the front desk staff whether they have adapters to lend. You may also be able to purchase the correct adapter at a local shop.