Over the past decade, electrical adapters have easily become one of the more important items you'll choose to travel with. Back when travelers weren't lugging around laptops and tablets and phones and SLRs, power sockets didn't hold much importance. These days, the best rated hostels have power sockets for every bed and every traveler has a need for them.
The best international electrical adapters contain several features: they have a surge protector, they work in every country you're going to be traveling to, they're small and lightweight, they don't fall out of the power sockets, and they're easy to use.
Not all adapters are built the same and I've made my way through several of them over the years.
This adapter is the best I've used (and I've worked my way through dozens over the past six years of full-time travel). It covers 150 countries (it won't help if you're traveling in South Africa, unfortunately), it's compact and lightweight, it's inexpensive for a travel adapter, it has a power indicator light to show you when it's charging your devices, it comes with four different adapters built into the surge protector (oh yeah, it has a surge protector, too), and it's built with a universal input, accepting both non-grounded and grounded plugs.
Quite simply, it has everything you could possibly need from a travel adapter and it's been keeping me powered for four years and counting, so it doesn't break easily, either. Here's why I love mine so much.
An In-Depth Review
Why do you need an electrical adapter?
An adapter allows a dual voltage appliance, converter, or transformer to be plugged into a wall outlet that is different from the pin configuration on the appliance, converter, or transformer. It gets more complicated because different countries require different adapters. You could buy individual adapters, like one that plugs into European walls and accepts American devices, but it's much easier to buy an all-in-one solution that will cover you for the majority of your upcoming trips.
Rather than puzzle out which adapter you'll need, just buy this one -- it has four adapters folded neatly into one unit and it's worked for me while I traveled across Europe, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the South Pacific. I don't travel without it. The only country I couldn't use it in was South Africa, but I've yet to find an all-in-one adapter that covers the huge and bulky South Africa plugs.
It could hardly be easier to use this adapter, so you'll be able to take it out of the box and plug it into the wall in seconds. Instructions show you which of the four plugs to pop out for different countries and, after you lose the instructions, you'll find parts of the world printed on the plug adapter itself for:
1. Europe, Middle East, Asia and parts of the Caribbean, Africa and South America.
2. Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, China and parts of Japan.
3. Other parts of South America, the Caribbean and Japan.
4. Great Britain, Ireland, other parts of Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore.
And that's it! Simply plug it in to the power socket, plug your device into the adapter, and you're ready to go.
Are there any downsides? The only one I've come across is that the European plug isn't as secure as it could be.
It's quite a loose fit in some of the power sockets I've used, meaning that a slight brush of the cable can cause the adapter to fall from the wall. I've fixed this problem by either being more careful with my technology so I don't knock it out, attaching the adapter to the socket by using a small piece of duct tape to secure it there, or using my daypack as a kind of stand for the adapter to keep it in the wall.
This is rare, though, and is more about the varying sizes of European sockets than the adapter itself.
Why Do You Need a Surge Protector?
You need a surge protector to keep your technology safe when you're plugging it in in developing countries where the electricity can be iffy. I've had friends end up with destroyed laptops and phones due to random surges in places in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
It's better to be safe than sorry; opt for an adapter with a surge protector and you don't have to worry about frying your gear.
There may be a better electrical adapter out there than this All-in-One Adapter, but I haven't come across it yet. Toss $20 at this one and forget about the whole adapter situation -- you're covered for your entire trip .
This article was edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.