Technology defines travel. It used to be all about postcards, travel journals and finding yourself, but can you ever now feel relaxed abroad without knowing you can charge up your stash of tech? A universal travel adaptor is essential for any and all trips abroad, and whether you're sharing your trip with a smartphone, tablet, laptop, headphones, camera or Bluetooth speaker (not forgetting toothbrush, curling irons and travel kettle), you might as well as good one.
Don't be an idiot at the airport, where universal travel adaptors are expensive and basic. Get it sorted before you set off on your travels with our collection of the very best around.
Basic adaptors are available that convert from one country to another, but it's better to invest in a universal travel adaptor that caters for everything. So what should you look for?
Check out our guide below on how to choose the best travel adapter below.
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How to choose the best travel adapter
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The best travel adapters have USB sockets, so charging up phones, tablets and other portable devices should be fairly convenient. But they're not all equal. Most will have at least a couple of USB slots; check they're rated 2.4V, which will refuel your phone faster, and means it can cope with a tablet, too.
Better still, look for Quick Charge 3.0 (QC 3.0), which does it ever faster. If you have a laptop that charges via USB-C, look for a travel adaptor with built-in USB-PD (USB Power Delivery), which can send 100W into a laptop.
Not all travel adaptors will transform voltage, so it’s always worth checking to see if you need to purchase a voltage transformer alongside the adapter. Many devices are dual voltage rated, so you may not even require a transformer; even so, it’s always best to check the book of words to double-check.
Good news is, all EU countries have the same voltage as the UK, so it’s only the USA, South America, Asia, Australasia and Africa that you need to think about. As a rule, high powered devices such as hairdryers and straighteners cannot be used with a travel adaptor, with the advice being to purchase cheap ones when you’ve arrived at your destination.
Amazon is usually the best place to head for travel adaptors, as you can get hold of highly-rated products for sometimes a fraction of the high street price (and with Prime Delivery).
With that the case, take a look at the best travel adaptors of the bunch below.
These are the 9 best travel adapters
If you've entered the world of USB-C, this is the travel adaptor for you. Although it has four standard USB slots that can each refuel a tablet as well as a smartphone and other low-power gadgets, the Hyleton also has a USB-C slot fitted to the side for fast-charging a smartphone.
Elsewhere this compact adaptor's multi-function plug fits more than 150 countries with UK/AU/US plugs. The adapter also has built-in safety shutters to protect you from the direct touch of the live parts on the socket outlet.
There are a couple of reasons why this universal adaptor from MyTravelPal stands out. The first is that it claims to be the safest travel adapter in the world – it's one of the very few all-in-one travel adapters that has passed the very strict regulatory standard BS:8546. MyTravelPal's 4 plugs have a ground/earth connection, an essential safety feature for many electrical appliances, meaning you can use this adapter with high powered electricals such as computers, curling tongs, hairdryers, laptops, phones, etc without worry. There's also a push-button resetting fuse, which means you don't need to carry spare fuses with you or rush out to buy replacements when you're on holiday. MyTravelPal's protection system ensures that it will automatically shut down if it detects any abnormal usage. It's a great product, and won't let you down.
If you're going to Africa, you're going to need to get to know the Type-M socket. Never heard of it? Unfortunately almost all so-called 'universal travel adapter' are nothing of the sort because they don't include large parts of Africa and Asia, where an archaic UK plug now called Type-M is still used.
As well as being standard in South Africa, Namibia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland, Type-M is common in Nepal and Bhutan, too. Cue this simple, but essential travel adapter that converts from every other plug in the world –such as the US, UK, Europe, Australia, China and Brazil – to the Type-M. This Switzerland-made example from Skross doesn't convert voltage, but it does work with power-hungry devices including laptops and travel hairdryers.
If you’re looking for a high quality all-rounder, this one should fit the bill. There’s four plug adapters, for use in over 150 countries worldwide, and there's a worldwide power socket, so you can plug in gadgets, no matter which AC plug they have. It's handy to note that this is the lightest travel adapter of the lot, so it shouldn't add too much weight to your suitcase, either.
Bear in mind that this travel adaptor is not a voltage converter, so make sure your device is dual voltage before you plug it in. You should also note that the adapter shouldn’t be used with high powered devices such as hair dryers or straighteners.
A voltage converter is required for devices that do not offer dual voltage, which makes this device incredibly handy if you’re heading to the states, where voltage is a lot lower than the UK.
With 2 AC plugs and 4 USB ports you’ll have no problem charging multiple devices at once – just bear in mind that you cannot plug in high-powered devices, such as hair dryers or straighteners. The device comes in a handy case, which contains three international AC adaptors for use in over 150 countries. The downside is you can only plug in UK devices.
Although cheaper than our first pick, this device essentially does the same thing- it’s just slightly bulkier, which may pose a problem for some sockets, especially if they’re tucked away. It’s suitable to use in over 150 different countries, thanks to the variety of plug combinations and the universal AC socket.
The USB sockets are perfect for charging phones, tablets and cameras. Bear in mind that this adaptor isn’t a voltage converter, so you may have to purchase an extra bit of kit for those devices that don’t offer dual voltage. As with the other adaptors in our list, you can’t plug in high powered devices either.
If you like the idea of having four USB charging ports but would prefer a more compact universal charger, this one will tick the boxes. A great one for travelling families, phones, tablets and cameras can all be charged at the same time. Plus, there’s a universal plug for use with devices from over 150 countries.
With short circuit and power surge protection, devices are protected no matter which country you’re in and there’s even child safety shutters so you don’t need to worry about them playing around with it when you’re not in the room.
Again, this should be a decent quality charger, though it only comes with 2 USB ports instead of 4. There’s a universal socket and it’s fitted with USA, Australian, UK and European plugs for use in over 150 countries.
Thanks to the embedded micro USB cable, phones and tablets can benefit from fast charging, great if your portable devices are gonna receive heavy use while you’re away. With safety features including fire proof materials, protection against power surges and a safety plug lock to keep the right prongs in position, this is another great all-rounder that should do the job nicely.
There's nothing particularly standout about the SZROBOY, but it's a good value combination of some great features. As well as slide-out adaptors that are good for 200 countries, the SZROBOY has three USB slots, each capable of recharging at the super-fast 2.4-amps rate. There's also a USB-C port for quickly recharging a newer laptop. As a bonus the SZROBOY comes packed in a small black leather bag.