AAA: Are your electronics safe abroad?

Posted at 11:55 AM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 13:56:17-05

Nothing ruins a trip overseas quicker than a zapped gadget. Without the right pre-trip research, you could find yourself without a working hairdryer, laptop, cell phone, or other appliance. If you plan to visit multiple countries during a single trip, finding the right adapters, converters, and transformers is even more important.
In addition to having different plug shapes, most countries generate electricity at 220 to 240 volts, while the United States runs on 110 to 125 volts. Many newer appliances and gadgets come in dual- or multi-voltage, which means they automatically adjust to different voltage. However, some older appliances are single-voltage and require a converter or transformer to be used overseas.
How can you protect your gadgets while traveling abroad? AAA Travel experts offer these simple tips for your next international trip.
Check your gadgets’ voltage before your trip
Most appliances have voltage information on a tag connected to the cord. Single-voltage appliances have a small voltage range (100-120V, for example), dual-voltage appliances use a slash (120V/240V) and multi-voltage use a hyphen (100-240V). Dual- and multi-voltage items do not require a converter or transformer, but single-voltage items do.
Find out if you need a converter or a transformer
Single voltage electrical devices that have heating elements — like hairdryers and curling irons — can use either a converter or a transformer. If you have single-voltage electronic devices that use chips, circuits, or electronic motors, they require a transformer to operate. The good news is many converters also work like transformers for low-watt electronic devices, so you may only need to purchase one device for your trip.
Invest in a surge protector for valuable electronics
If you plan to travel to a region that has an unreliable power grid, like developing countries in Asia or Africa, consider purchasing a surge protector or a converter equipped with a surge protector. These are useful for valuable electronics like cell phones and laptops, which could be damaged if there are unexpected surges while they are being charged.
Ask the experts at AAA travel stores
If you aren’t sure what kind of converter or adapter you need for your devices, bring them along to a AAA Travel store (located within AAA offices). Our travel experts can help you find the right device for you, based on what kinds of appliances you’ll pack for your trip.

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