Keep your tech topped up on your next trip with our pick of the best power adapters for travelling, from cheap travel adapters for a single country to worldwide adapters that you can use wherever you go, and even adaptors that include USB sockets too.

Travel adapters are the sort of thing we all tend to leave it until the airport to buy – or, worse, from our hotel once we land on the other side and realise we forgot them. That’s a great way to pay inflated prices for a limited choice though, and you can save a lot of money by planning ahead and buying a couple of power adapters online before your holiday.

Adapters have come a long way over the last few years too. There’s no longer any need to build up a collection of different adapters for different countries, as it’s now easy to buy an adapter that can be, uh, adapted for just about any region, so that one piece of kit can cover you wherever you go.

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

Even more useful are travel adapters that incorporate USB sockets, which mean you can use one plug to charge multiple devices, since most of the tech you travel with probably charges by USB anyway.

Just note that we’ve seen mostly adapters with USB-A sockets – some phones and laptops ship with cables with USB-C connectors at both ends now, so make sure you have a USB-A-to-USB-C cable with you to keep those topped up. But USB-C ports are appearing now, as with the Syncwire Quick Charger 3.0 USB-C 48W Wall Charger below.

If you’re busy planning a trip, you might also want to take a look at the best travel gadgetswe’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.

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’e based in the UK (like us), which means you’ll need an adapter to travel almost anywhere in the world, with rare exceptions like Hong Kong that 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. Not every country uses the sort of plug you’d expect though, so 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 though, while Japan offers an even skimpier 110V. For the most part this isn’t an issue, but it may mean that some devices 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 either not used at all, or are only sometimes found.

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

Best travel adapters 2018

TEC UK to EU Travel Adapter Twin Pack

TEC UK to EU Travel Adapter Twin Pack

  • RRP: £4.99

Let’s start with something dead simple: this is a twin pack of UK to EU travel adapters, which will let you use your UK tech just about anywhere in Europe.

They’re cheap and cheerful, but they work – and for most people, that’s enough. They’re also an awful lot cheaper from Amazon than they would be if you bought the exact same ones in an airport newsagent.

If you know you mostly travel in Europe, or just have a specific trip coming up that you need an adapter or two for, this is the cheapest way to charge your gadgets once you’re there.