Here’s a sample conversation that likely happens between many couples when packing for a European vacation. It goes something like this.
Wife: Did you grab the travel adapter?
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Me: Which travel adapter? The British one that looks like two rectangular eyes and nostrils, or the one that fits perfectly up my nose?
Wife: First off, I don’t want to know how you know that. Second, please throw away that adapter. Lastly, I’ve forgotten what I even wanted to know to begin with because you’re gross.
Me: Always happy to help
Europe Plug Adapters
OK, so maybe your packing conversations don’t go like that, exactly.
But they’re probably similar.
It can be daunting when you pack for a vacation to Europe. Especially as you navigate which electrical devices you’ll be able to easily use with a plug adapter, as they’re probably dual voltage (Apple iPhone, iPad, Android cell phones). Or, which devices you’ve got to be more careful about packing, like your electric razor, chainsaw, nose-hair trimmer, or weedwacker (not a euphemism). You know, the basic guy essentials. I’ve yet to find a Dopp kit that fits my weedwacker though, but I digress.
There are two main power adapters that you’ve got to worry about when traveling to Europe. The Type-G, that looks like two rectangular eyes and a nose, you’ll need when traveling to England, Cyprus, Ireland, Isle of Man, Malta, Northern Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, and Wales.
The other European travel adapters you’ll possibly need, with convenient nostril storage options, are the Type-C or Type-F (practically the same, but one has a big round housing (Type-F), and the other has a flat wide housing (Type-C)). This is the plug type you’ll find in every other European country except the ones I mentioned above. They include, but are not limited to, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands, Poland, and Canada. OK, not Canada, I just needed to see if you were paying attention.
There are a couple of rare exceptions. In Italy, they have a Type-L, which has an extra prong used for grounding, or for people with three nostrils. Switzerland has a Type-J socket, that also has a 3 prong plug like Italy, but is higher, because why would something be simple, right? Here’s what’s great: Your Type-C/F travel adapters will fit perfectly well into the Type-L / J, so don’t fret if you see a third hole (not a euphemism).
I’ve noticed in many hotel room bathrooms that there’s a “shavers only” plug designed for your electric razor specifically. What’s great about these is that there’s typically a US plug style and a plug style for the local country. AND, it lists the voltage by each, meaning you don’t have to worry about bringing a voltage converter if the only thing you needed it for was your shaver (not a euphemism).
We’ve done quite a bit of international travel in my house due to my wife’s military service, and we recently ended a three-year stint living in England, so we’ve accumulated quite a few adapter plugs. We typically carry two universal adapters, which are like the Swiss Army Knife of adapters. They’re compact and handle all European situations, taking the worry away from you, so that you can stress about why you still can’t fit the chainsaw into your luggage even after you got rid of things your wife clearly won’t need, like underwear, a curling iron and her hair dryer.
We Americans like all-in-one solutions (which explains why the Instant Pot and Keurig sell so well), so I’m guessing you’ll be happy with the universal style adapter plugs. This isn’t a situation where you want to go cheap. High quality travel adapters matter. We’ve had a few situations where we picked up a bargain basement plug adapter, and the plug kept falling out of the damn thing. And, I had just found a tree blocking the view out of our AirBnB window, on which to justify the packing of the chainsaw too. Needless to say, I was quite peeved. The AirBnB host was quite relieved, however. You may find that inexpensive world travel adapters have a tendency to not fit snugly in the hotel room wall plug either.
A high quality plug adapter should be considered an investment. What’s great about them, is that they’ll frequently work in far more countries than just the ones you’re visiting in Europe now. The Type-G adapter works in well over 30 countries, including Kenya, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The Type-C plug adapter style is useful in South America when in Argentina, Brazil, or Chile. With more than 190 countries to explore, and more portable electrical devices than ever, you may find your travel adapter is your new best friend (could be a euphemism, you decide.).
USB Port Travel Adapters
In recent years, manufacturers have caught on to the fact that these travel power adapters can also house USB ports. This is a wonderful addition, because it means you don’t have to pack your little power brick for your devices, and can plug your charging cable straight into the USB port on the European plug adapter, freeing up even more space in your luggage. There may even be room to bring the divorce papers your partner served you with after you nodded your head about any of the chainsaw jokes, or about them not needing underwear. Of course they need underwear, you neanderthal.
SAFETY FIRST (e.g. THE MOST USEFUL THING YOU’LL READ ALL DAMN DAY)
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know if your electrical device is dual voltage. You’ll find this information somewhere on the device itself, or on the part that plugs into the wall. On my wife’s hair dryer, it’s etched onto the dryer itself. On my tiny white iPhone bricks with the plug and the USB port, it’s on the plug itself. I can tell there’s text there, but I need a frickin’ microscope to see it now because I’m old.
If it’s dual voltage, you’ll see two sets of numbers, one of which is in the low 100 range, and the other in the low 200 range. 110/220 is common, as is 100-240. The aforementioned hair dryer is 125/250. As long as you see two numbers, one in the 100s, and one in the 200s, then your device is dual voltage, and you only need a plug adapter for it to work in Europe. If it’s got only one number, like 120V, then you must use a voltage converter for it safely work, or you could fry your electrical device, or start a fire. Don’t start a fire. Don’t be embarrassed if you have to ask your kids what the hell the tiny text says either.