Packing Topics / Plugging-In Abroad

Plugging-In Abroad

Cameras, laptops, and cell phones, oh my! With all of the technology you'll be carrying around, it'll be important to keep them charged and ready to go. To put it plain and simple, electrical systems around the world differ, and mainly in two ways: the plug/outlet shape and the voltage. Here's a quick guide for keeping your devices charged while you're abroad.

Adapters adapt the plug shape so you can plug your device into the wall. Converters convert the electricity to the right voltage so it won't blow up.

Adapters will be specific to different regions. One side will plug into the host country outlet, and the other side will look like a standard U.S. outlet. If you will be traveling during your program abroad, check what type of plugs are used by neighboring countries.


A converter can be used to change the voltage of the plug so that it won't damage your device. If you're traveling to different regions, you may need adapters for the converter.


Keeping you plugged in, no matter where you are.


When you go to plug in your phone after a long day, your normal charging block that you use at home won't work. The map below shows all the different plug types, and exactly what kind of an adapter you'll need. Hint: you'll need one if you're traveling anywhere on the map that isn't orange. 


Converters can be tricky, but, believe us, it's important to take voltage into consideration.


Generally, U.S. appliances (including hair dryers, electric razors, and straighteners) run on 110 volts, though some gadgets have “dual voltage” where they will run on both 110-220 volts. Usually, the voltage is listed on the device or on the box of the deviceWhen the voltage of the electricity in the plug differs from the voltage of whatever you’re plugging in, it can cause issues—to say the least. If you’ve ever heard someone complain about hair dryers smoking and breaking when they were overseas, this is why.  

If you’re worried about how to dry your hair, we would suggest purchasing a hair dryer and straightener abroad—your apartment, homestay or hotel may even have hair dryers available to you.

Some Tips!

  • 1. Ask a friend!

    Ask a friend who went abroad previously if they have any adapters you could borrow. No use in buying new ones if you can just borrow them!

  • 2. Use those surge protectors!

    Bring a surge protector and power strip (especially if you can find the ones with USB ports), that way you'll only need one adapter for the wall, but you'll have multiple plug points.

  • 4. Take more than one!

    Purchase the specific adapters you'll need and try to get a couple of them. How often do you only have one thing to charge?

Only take the electronics you need! Taking too many could put them at risk of being stolen or broken. Don't take every electronic you own, pack light!