In our years of travel we’ve tried out loads of too-flimsy or too-bulky power adapters, and have always been hungry to find the one plug that could do it all without weighing us down. It’s the key travel gadget that makes all other travel gadgets possible.
Sure, you can stop at any electronics store or airport shop before an international flight, and grab a set of plug adapters that will be just fine. But they’ll also just cost you a lot more than you need to spend and they’ll take up unnecessary space in your bag. If you take a moment to order the right one online before you go, you’ll travel just a bit lighter and better.
The Best Power Plug Adapter for Travel
- Three USB-A outlets and one USB-C with fast-charging (and the fast charging actually works)
- Auto-resetting fuse (protection from short circuits, spikes; no need to change fuse)
- Takes 100-250V (the full range of what you might encounter)
- Lifetime warranty
We use and recommend the Nierbo, but there are other very similar options out there, including: the SZROBOY Travel Adapter, JMFONE Travel Adapter and the Ougrand Travel Adapter Plug. You can compare prices on Amazon via these three links. We’d go for the Nierbo however since it stands out with the lifetime warranty and auto-resetting fuse.
All of them are compact, well-made, and basically accept any plug; they’re even useful for handling two- to three- prong conversions in the United States, or some of the funkier plugs I’ve come across in Brazil, Russia, and Italy.
- What We Love About This Universal Power Adapter
- What We Wish Was Better
- How Universal Travel Plug Adapters Work
- Do You Need to Convert Voltage? — For most travellers, probably not!
- A Simple, Small, Cheap Universal Plug Adapter without USB — A Great Supplement
- Other Bestselling Travel Power Adapters
- Wrap-Up: The Travel Power Adapters We Recommend
Update history of this article
What We Love About This Universal Power Adapter
- Compact: We travel very light (with only a wheeled carry-on/backpack) so a whole set of adapters like you often see in airports would mean lots of unwanted bulk when compared to a simple universal solution. A lot of (otherwise good) tech recommendation sites fall down on this issue by recommending expensive and unnecessarily bulky adapter sets like this one.
- Ready for anywhere: Plans change; the best trips send you on unexpected, corkscrew paths. With an all-in-one adapter you’re ready to meet any outlet in any country. And, if you should happen to purchase devices with strange
plugs in these foreign lands, this power adapter allows you to still use them when you get back home, as it accepts all foreign plugs and can convert them to your home power outlets.
- Charge multiple devices at one outlet: Most people now travel with multiple devices (headphones, tablets, Kindles, toothbrushes, etc.), but outlets can be in short supply, especially in non-traditional lodgings like homestays or in remote parts of the world. It’s a lifesaver to be able to plug in both a regular wall plug while simultaneously charging four USB-devices from a single outlet. Also, I’ve had neighbors in planes or coffeeshops be quite grateful that this adapter allowed us to share an outlet and charge several phones.
- Relatively inexpensive: These power adapters are generally less expensive than the options at electronics stores like Best Buy. (If you’re sure you’ll only ever need a single type of adapter, however, you can find even cheaper simple adapters for specific countries.)
- Has fast-charging USB-C: If you already use USB-C devices, this adapter means that you can leave a USB-C power converter at home, since that’s included. But even if you don’t yet use USB-C, there’s a good chance that you will in the future as the newer phones and such generally use the new standard. We tried the Nierbo with a Google Pixel phone via USB-C and it was able to charge to 50% in 30 minutes.
- There is a safety fuse in the Nierbo, and unlike similar competitors, the fuse is auto-resetting, meaning that you don’t have to replace it if you should blow it out.
- The lifetime warranty is exceptional for this type of product. The company has been active since 2014. Their email for warranty claims is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Nierbo adapter accepts any input voltage that you might find: 100-250V. It should not be used with high-power appliances (over 1500W, see below).
What We Wish Was Better
- The Nierbo travel adapter is fine for computers (laptops, tablets) and electronics (Android phones, Apple phones, etc.). But it has a maximum of support for 1500W/250V~6A and shouldn’t be used with hair dryers for example that go beyond that. For more power in a similar product, go for this high power universal adapter (but note that it costs a bit more and lacks USB-C).
- While the Nierbo travel adapter can simultaneously power one device via a traditional wall plug and four USB devices, we’d love to find such a small adapter that could take two or three standard wall plugs. Unfortunately, for that feature, you have to step up to something bulkier.
- While this is the smallest, lightest full-featured universal plug adapter that we’ve found, I’d personally love to see something even smaller. Our resident product designer tells us that this is where companies would run up against regulatory limitations however.
How Universal Travel Plug Adapters Work
Here’s how the Nierbo plug adapter works.
Any plug fits into the smorgasbord of holes on the front end, and on the side panel you choose the prongs that you want with a slider that brings them out on the back end.
Here’s one reason a I really love travelling with the Nierbo universal power plug converter.
Here’s an example of an outlet I encountered on a train in France.
And here are a couple of outlets I ran across in Brazil. It was nice to be prepared for everything there.
So yes, you could buy a specific adapter for the country you’re going to, but in some places you really can’t know what to expect and it’s easier to just have a universal travel adapter.
You can check the full range of possible world outlets and plugs on Wikipedia, and there are some obscure configurations that you’ll still find in use in places that aren’t covered by any universal adapter or typical travel adapter set. But in those rare cases, your hotel or host is very likely to also have plug adapters or a power strip for your use, and so that they can plug in world electrical appliances themselves.
Do You Need to Convert Voltage? — For most travellers, probably not!
Note that plug adapters do not convert voltage; in the unlikely event that you need to step up or step down for a specific piece of electronics (for example, from 110 volts to 220 volts), you instead need to carry a heavier voltage converter like this.
But first take a good look at the fine print on your electronics’ plugs before buying a voltage converter to see what voltages it actually accepts (and you can compare that with the specific voltage and frequencies for the country you’re travelling to).
You’ll find that most smaller consumer electronics items like laptops, mobile phones, and even hair dryers sold today say something like “100-240V ~ 50-60Hz”; this means that they accept anything from 100 to 240 volts and from 50 to 60 Hz — to put it simply, they work in Europe, America, Asia, anywhere. If, as is most likely, your devices accept a range of voltages that include the voltage of the place you are travelling to, you don’t need a voltage converter, just a plug adapter like the ones we’re recommending in this article.
A Simple, Small, Cheap Universal Plug Adapter without USB — A Great Supplement
The Kikkerland is small and light and incredibly flexible. For example, the Euro prongs can be moved in and out a bit to fine-tune for the width of some truly weird sockets. I found this flexibility to be useful on occasion in parts of India and Brazil. This can also help to keep the plug from falling out of a socket.
The only downside is that it can be a bit complicated to configure. Don’t just throw the two pieces in your bag and then try to figure out how to put them together once you’ve reached your destination. Take the card as well with the illustrations showing the configurations. This will save you a lot of hassle.
I kept the instructions myself and took them with me, but was overconfident and wasted about five minutes trying to put the pieces together for a UK outlet. Once I actually looked at the instructions, however, I was able to set it up in a few seconds and get to charging.
Other Bestselling Travel Power Adapters
SZROBOY Travel Adapter and it still works great after more than a year on the road. The main issue was that the function light was too bright for my tastes and sometimes disturbed my sleep in hotel rooms. I covered it with electric tape (as shown at right).
The Nierbo that we now recommend has a bit of a glow at night but not so much that it causes problems.
We also changed our recommendation to the Nierbo due to its self-resetting fuse and lifetime warranty. But if you want to comparison shop further, as mentioned at top, the JMFONE Travel Adapter and Ougrand Travel Adapter Plug are quite similar products at similar prices.
We have also tested the Truton Universal Travel Power Adapter that was sent to us recently by the manufacturer. It’s got a nice matte-white finish and the same features as our top pick, but it failed to trigger USB-C fast charging on most of the devices that we tested it with, including a Google Pixel 2 phone. So if you use fast-charging USB-C devices (or plan to), we wouldn’t recommend the Truton over the others. At last check it was out of stock in any case.
Wrap-Up: The Travel Power Adapters We Recommend
The most convenient solution that we’ve found for converting pretty much any plug for any outlet, anywhere.