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Do I Need Power Adapters And Converters During My Semester Abroad?

Posted by Auvi Evans on 8/3/17 10:45 AM


Power adapters and coverters can be a confusing topic. It's hard to know what you will need, especially if you've never lived abroad before.

A converter you use while volunteering in Ukraine will be different than the one you would use in China, so where do you start? Here are some basics on adapters and coverters so you know what you will need during your semester abroad!

Not sure what country you want to volunteer in with International Language Programs(ILP)? Talk to a representative in the office who can answer any questions you may have!

Okay, what even are they?

  • What's an adapter?  In some countries, the  shape of the outlet on the wall is completely different than the ones you're used to at home in the US or Canada...so that means you need a little thing called and adapter to make it so that your plug fits while you're living abroad. As an example: you plug in your laptop into the adapter and then the other side of the adapater gets plugged into the wall.
  • What's a converter?  A converter will convert the actual electricty from 220 volts to 110. It works basically like a adapter where you plug your device into it, and then plug it into the wall. They will help you so don't blow the fuse or blow your actual device, because many countries don't use the same voltage that your US products are built for.                                                                                   

Do I really need one?

Some countries may already have plugs that work with American devices (like China, Mexico, and the Caribbean) which means you don't need an adapter. 

But, if you're making a trip to Europe then yes! You need one.  You don't want to show up to teach English in Lithuania or Russia and realize you can't plug in your laptop!

You'll just have to do a little research before your international trip. Google something like, "Do I need an adapter in Thailand?". You can find great pictures and info about all different plugs.  Having an adapter and converter is something you will not regret, because what is life without being able to charge your phone??

Even if you need an adapter because you're going to volunteer in Ukraine, you may not need a converter as well.  Some things (usually tech products like your phone, laptop, tablet, etc) actually convert power on their own which means you don't need one. Other things like your electric razor, curling iron, or straighter almost always require a converter. So, if you're a minimalist packer or planning to go natural for your backpacking trip (or you might decide to just buy a cheap blow dryer after you arrive which will be made to work in that country), then you can just skip the converter. Boom!

What kind of adapter do I need?


Plugs will vary depending on where you go.  When you buy an adapter/converter - just read the packaging. It will tell you on the back which countries it works in (it's often multiple countries). If you can find a universal adapter (like the picture above), that's a great option because it will work all over the world. If you've caught the travel bug and are planning many trips - that ones for you.

If you're traveling to Europe and want to be able to use your hair straightener, something like this should work well.

Check out this website for more specifics on if you will need one for the country you are going to. 

Where do I find them?

You're in luck because they are actually really easy to find! Most stores like Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Wart sell them; you can even find them at stores like Ross, T-J Maxx and of course online at Amazon. Before you purchase, just make sure to look at the product description and make sure that it works for the country you're going to. 

**TIP**When you are looking to buy one, you can buy them individually or often times you kind find a two-in-one. Read the description to see if it is both together. If you need both a converter and an adapter, you'll save money by just buying a 2 in 1 product.


Whoo hoo, now you know how to find the right adapters and converters no matter where you are going! The hard part will be to choose where you want to volunteer with ILP! Want to volunteer abroad in Russia? Does one of ILP's humanitarian programs sound good?  What about making a difference in Haiti? Click the button below to learn more about ILP and get some of your questions answered!

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Topics: Travel Tips, Life Abroad

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Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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