If you’ve ever had to rush around at an airport to buy a travel adapter or worse, felt a lurch of panic on the plane when you realised you hadn’t packed one, you’ll know the added headache and expense of last-minute buying.

You can save a lot of money by planning ahead and purchasing a couple of power adapters online before your holiday. Once you’ve got them, you can keep them in your suitcase or travel bag and never get caught out again.

Adapters have come a long way in the past few years and can be of use even when you’re not travelling. For one thing, it’s now easy to buy an adapter that can be used in just about any region.

You can even find some world-to-world adapters, which will take any plug type, and connect to any socket – ideal not only for travelling, but also for any international tech that you end up bringing back from your trip to use at home. Others can charge multiples devices via USB. 

If you’re not sure which kind of adapter you need, have a look at our buying advice, which follows the chart. We’ve got information on sockets and connecting your adapter, as well as regions, voltage, and 2- versus 3-pin plugs.

If you’re busy planning a trip, you might also want to take a look at the best travel gadgets we’ve tested, along with our pick of the top travel apps for your phone. And if you’re struggling to keep your phone and other devices charged while you travel, you might also want to check out our guide to the best portable power banks.

Best travel adapters

TEC UK to EU Travel Adapter Twin Pack – Best budget option (EU)

TEC UK to EU Travel Adapter Twin Pack

TEC UK to US Travel Adapter Twin Pack – Best budget option (US)

TEC UK to US Travel Adapter Twin Pack

Charwego 6 in 1 45W travel adapter

Charwego 6 in 1 45W travel adapter

Zendure Passport II Pro – Most powerful

Zendure Passport II Pro

Go Travel Duo Earthed UK to EU Power Adapter – Four device charging

Go Travel Duo Earthed UK to EU Power Adapter

OneWorld Travel Adapter – Best for safety

OneAdaptr OneWorld Travel Adapter

Skross World Travel Adapter MUV USB – Best for two-pin compatibility

Skross World Travel Adapter MUV USB

Skross World Travel Adapter Pro Light USB – Best for quick charging

Skross World Travel Adapter Pro Light USB

Syncwire 4-Port USB Charger – Best for home & travel use

SyncWire 4-Port Quick Charger

Anker PowerPort 4 Lite – Best for family use

Anker PowerPort 4 Lite

TEC UK To India Adaptor – For Southern Asia

UK to India Travel Adapter

Connecting your adapter

Most adapters come with USB-A sockets – some phones and laptops ship with cables with USB-C connectors at both ends, so make sure you have a USB-A-to-USB-C cable with you to keep those topped up. And USB-C ports are more common now, as with the OneWorld PD and Syncwire Quick Charger above.

Even more useful are travel adapters that incorporate multiple USB sockets, which mean you can use one plug to charge several devices. Some now even include a USB-C Power Delivery port – useful for owners of USB-C laptops such as Apple’s newer MacBooks.

Regions and voltages

The most important thing to check before you buy a travel adapter is what sort of plug the area you’re travelling to uses. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that you’re based in the UK, which means you’ll need an adapter to travel almost anywhere in the world, with rare exceptions like Hong Kong and Singapore which use the UK plug.

For the most part, there are three broad regions of plug beyond the UK type: the round pinned plugs used across Europe, the flat straight pins used across America and some parts of Asia, and the flat slanted pins used in Australia and the rest of Asia. It’s always worth double-checking with a quick Google search ahead of a trip, and there are a few other unique plug types out there to watch out for.

Voltage can also be an issue. UK plugs use 220-240V, which is conveniently what you’ll find across Europe and Australia. US sockets only run at 120V, while Japan offers an even skimpier 110V. For the most part, this isn’t an issue, but it may mean that some devices will charge more slowly than you’re used to, and some of the most power-intensive might not work at all if they can’t draw sufficient power from the mains to run. Unfortunately, there’s nothing a travel adapter can do about that, as they don’t convert voltage.

2-pin vs 3-pin

One thing to look out for in travel adapters is whether or not they support earth pins. While 3-pin plugs are the standard in the UK, elsewhere in the world they’re used less often or not at all. 

Earthing helps to protect you and your gadgets from electric shock, so you may prefer to opt for 3-pin adapters, which offer an extra level of protection. Bear in mind that this may limit where you can use them – the US and EU have both 2-pin and 3-pin sockets, so your 3-pin plug simply won’t fit into some sockets, and you might wish you’d risked it with a 2-pin model.

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