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The Best Universal Plug Adapters for Travel: One Little Thing You Don’t Want to Forget

best universal plug adapters for travel

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You can’t travel without electronics these days. Well, you can, but you probably don’t.

Phones, cameras, laptops, and Kindles all require a charge to keep going, and if you’re traveling to multiple destinations on a big trip then that could mean packing several different plug adapters.

Obviously packing a lot of little things that basically serve the same purpose is not what we’re about at Her Packing List, which is one of the reasons why we love the universal plug adapter so much. You could say it is our one little thing we personally can’t travel without.

For many travelers, a generic or low-cost universal adapter gets the job done. In fact, I’ve been using a random universal adapter that I picked up on a layover in the Bangkok airport several years ago.

But as always, everyone’s needs are different, so we decided to put together a more comprehensive guide on the best universal plug adapters and when you need to pack them.

What is a universal plug adapter?

universal plug adapters

A universal plug adapter is small, compact and helps you take your electronics all around the world without losing a charge. Whether you’re hanging out in Canberra hotels, Buenos Aires hostels or Thailand bungalows, the one adapter will do the job.

A universal travel adapter houses multiple electrical plug styles of the world so you don’t have to pack a bunch of individual plug adapters.

All universal plug adapters tend to work the same: you select the country or area of the world by flipping up some dials, and out pops the plug you need to use. You then plug your original plug into the adapter and then plug the adapter into the foreign outlet.

When do I need a travel plug adapter?

universal plug adapter at airport
A universal plug adapter being used at an airport charging station.

If you’re traveling internationally with electronic devices or beauty products like a hair dryer or straightener, then you may need a travel plug adapter.

Why?

Because different areas of the world have electrical outlets with different plugs and prongs – and even different voltages.

So, that laptop cable you use in North America won’t get you anywhere in the UK… unless you have the travel plug adapter that matches the local outlets.

And if you’re traveling on that same trip to another part of the world – say Australia– you’re going to need yet another adapter plug for that destination.

I would recommend packing a universal plug adapter for any international trip. I’ve been super thankful to have it on layovers in countries that weren’t my final destination – and where I didn’t expect to be using my electronics.

Do I also need a converter?

Most modern, low-power devices like your phone and laptop chargers tend to support multiple voltages and therefore don’t require a converter. However, you MUST check on the device itself to make sure the voltage range covers for your destination.

voltage output for macbook pro
The voltage output on a Macbook Pro charging cable.

High-power devices, like hair dryers and appliances that generate heat, often do require a converter. Otherwise, a number of issues can arise, like blown fuses, broken devices, and even electrocution or fire.

The Best Universal Plug Adapters for Travel

Universal Plug AdapterFeatures
Newvanga All-in-One Travel Adapter
newvanga travel adapter
Budget-Friendly Pick: $11.99
– Amazon’s Choice
– Comes with 2 USB ports
– Works in 150+ countries
BUY ON AMAZON
Sublimeware Universal Plug Adapter
Sublimeware universal plug adapter
Family-Travel Pick
– $23.99 on Amazon
– Comes with 4 USB ports
– Works in 150+ countries
BUY ON AMAZON
Pac2Go Universal Plug Adapter
Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter
Flashpacker Pick
– $24.99 on Amazon
– Built-in surge/spike protection
– Comes with 4 USB + 1 USB-C ports
– Works in 150+ countries
– 18 month guarantee
BUY ON AMAZON
DOACE C11 2000W Travel Voltage Converter
DOACE C11 Voltage Converter
Hair-Loving Traveler Pick
– $46.99 on Amazon
– Voltage converter
– Works for hair dryers and straighteners
– Comes with 2 USB ports
– Works in 190+ countries
BUY ON AMAZON

Universal Plug Adapters with USB

With the need for many devices like phones and power banks charging via USB, our recommended universal plug adapter has a USB outlet built-in. No need for hogging those precious outlets in your hostel dorm when you have one of these!

Newvanga All-in-one Travel Adapter

Newvanga travel adapter all-in-one

Newvanga All-in-one Travel Adapter

Top Pick: Budget-Friendly | Price: $11.99 on Amazon

The Newvanga universal travel adapter is our budget-friendly pick, coming in at just $11.99 on Amazon with excellent reviews (Amazon’s choice pick by the way). This all-in-one travel adapter includes 2 USB ports for dual charging your devices, inputs suitable for most 2-pole plugs, and works in over 150 countries around the world.

Sublimeware Universal Plug Adapter with USB

Sublimeware Universal Plug Adapter

Sublimeware Universal Plug Adapter

Top Pick: Family Travel | Price: $23.99 on Amazon

If you need more USB ports, then the Sublimeware universal plug adapter has you covered. Housing 4 USB outlets (2 x 2.4a and 2 x 2.1a) and the standard plug input, one of these adapters should be all that you need while traveling in over 150 countries. You can simultaneously charge 2 phones, a tablet, and camera – perfect for traveling couples and families with multiple devices.

Universal Plug Adapter with Surge Protector

If taking your precious devices around the world to places with less reliable electricity has you nervous, a good travel adapter with built-in surge protection can give you peace of mind.

Pac2go Universal Plug Adapter with Surge Protection

Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter

Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter

Top Pick: Flashpackers | Price: $24.99 on Amazon

Pac2Go can simultaneously charge up to 6 devices at once, and with extra security for your expensive electronics due to it’s built-in surge/spike protection. The Pac2Go contains 4 USB and 1 USB-C inputs along with an 8-hole input socket that works with any international 2 or 3 prong plug.

This universal plug adapter works in 150 countries across the globe, and the 2.5” cubed size makes it one little thing worth packing.

Oh, and there’s an 18-month guarantee!

Travel Plug Adapter for Hair Dryers

I would recommend packing a universal plug adapter with converter for any international trip where you might be packing high-power devices, like a hair dryer.

Hair dryers use a high level of electricity to produce their heat, and using one abroad where voltages can vary is pretty much synonymous with travel mishaps such as blown fuses, broken hair dryers, hotel blackouts and more.

Because of this known issue, we highly recommend NOT packing a hair dryer while traveling UNLESS it is a special travel hair dryer with dual voltage. In fact, most hotels, hostels, and AirBnb’s for that matter will supply hair dryers to their visitors so there are no electrical issues. (Tip: Check ahead with your accommodation so you can bypass packing one.)

If you still want to pack your hair dryer (or other high-power device), we suggest checking out the following universal plug adapter with built-in converter. As always: Read the fine print!

DOACE C11 2000W Travel Voltage Converter

DOACE C11 Voltage Converter

DOACE C11 2000W Travel Voltage Converter

Top Pick: Hair-Loving Travelers | Price: $46.99 on Amazon

The DOACE travel voltage converter can step down foreign voltage to 110v for your US appliances and tools. However, you must read the fine print. Dual voltage devices SHOULD NOT be plugged into the voltage converter plug, and instead into the other plug adapter. It can work with basic hair dryers and straighteners as long as they are single voltage and push-button operated.

In addition to the converter, the DOACE C11 comes equipped with 2 USB ports and can be used in 190+ countries around the world.

Final Notes on Universal Plug Adapters

One issue that bothers some people with universal plug adapters is their size:

Sometimes using the adapter will cause another space on the outlet to be blocked, which is always an issue when in public hostels and cafes where several travelers are fighting over an outlet.

Our solution is to make sure your plug adapter has several USB inputs since most devices, except laptops, tend to need solely a USB to charge.

Overall, our feelings are that a universal plug adapter is less hassle to carry around than individual adapter plugs for all the destinations on your travel list.

universal plug adapters

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Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm producing episodes of The UnPacking List or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


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Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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