Zip Zap Zop

(posted by Emily)

Sorry, friends. We aren't here today to play one of my favorite icebreakers. Instead, I want to talk a little bit about traveling with electronics abroad :) Can you tell we're ready for summer break already?!

When I was doing research about packing phones/iPads/computers, it was hard to find exact information about what we would need. I was looking for blog posts from travelers, talking about what they have used abroad, and was disappointed there wasn't much to read. 

In the absence of a great post to cite, I figured I would create my own! Of course, we are just in planning stages at this point--I'll be sure to do a follow up once we head across the pond!

You all know what an outlet looks like here in the US: 

Well, just in case you didn't know, outlets are not the same world-wide! Here are a few of our international friends: 

United Kingdom
European Union
In order to deal with all of these different sockets, you need an adapter for your US plugs. There are tons of options on Amazon, but I'll go into specifics of what we bought later in this post. 

The other main point to consider is that the voltage coming out of an international outlet won't be the same as what we have here in the US. Our appliances are made to plug in to a 120V/60Hz outlet. Most European countries use 230-240V/50Hz--this is an awesome chart detailing the power supply in the most traveled-to countries. It also details the type of plug needed to access a socket in each country as well. 

We have Apple electronics--iPhones, iPad, and Mac laptops, so the differing voltage and frequency won't be an issue for us. If you look closely at the white box part of your Apple device charger, you'll notice the specs printed in gray:

Input: 100-240V~ 1A 50-60Hz

The output is also noted, but we'll ignore that for now. Because our Apple chargers will work with international voltage and frequency, we don't have to worry about buying a converter for any of those devices we plan to bring. We're planning on packing both of our iPhones, our iPad, and Rick's laptop, in case he has to write music over the summer. So, we need adapters for those four chargers. Apple sells a World Traveler Adapter Kit, but it seemed like there are cheaper routes to go for only adapters.

Initially, we were talking about bringing our Vitamix on the boat, since we use a blender pretty frequently in our day to day lives. Because the Vitamix just plugs in to the wall without one of those fancy white boxes on an Apple charger, we would need something to convert the voltage to make sure we didn't fry the motor. I found this option on Amazon that we really liked: 

Even though we would have had to pay for shipping, it seemed worth it, since all of our electronics could plug right in. However, after doing a little research, this converter only works for devices with a total output of 200W. This is where the output on your charger comes in to play--on my laptop, the output is 14.85W. The converter would have been great for all of our electronics, but definitely not for the blender, which has an output of 1380W. For something with an output that large, we would need a transformer. So, no passport stamps for Vitamix! (it's okay--we're planning to bring him to Hawaii)

For now, this is what we've ended up with: 

Once everything gets to us, I'll let you know what we think! Here's hoping everything will plug in that we need to plug in :) 

What worked for you when traveling abroad? Any tips to add?


  1. I've had my eye on that Anker keyboard for a while now, I'll be interested to hear what you think.

    Another tip I'd like to add, which I'm sure you've experienced, is that when I traveled with my Macbook in 2007, I was careful to note how many times I switched DVD (and I assume BluRay) viewing regions. It will only do this a set number of times. For example, in my case I started watching DVDs as soon as I got to Scotland for my semester abroad. Battlestar Galactica Season 3 had just come out in the UK and wouldn't come out for months in the US, so duh I had to binge watch it immediately. This switched my viewing region to Region 2. When I got back home, the first time I watched a DVD on my Macbook, it switched it back to the US region (1). Just be careful not to switch back and forth too many times, because at least for my Macbook the limit is 7 switches and. Happy traveling!

  2. Thanks for the useful info, fetcho. One thing to add- if you happen to have EU/western european plugs sitting around from past travels, those will work in most italian wall sockets these days. They used to be different, but most wall sockets are modified to fit both. I found last summer that I had no problems just using my german plugs. have a lovely trip :)


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