“Which plug do I need for my destination?” is a question many travellers ask themselves when it comes to packing their gap year essentials. In many destinations around the world you’ll find that common plug types such as type C (European) and type B (American) are in use, but this isn’t always the case in some of the other popular gap year destinations, including South Africa & India.
Worldwide adapters usually come with three different plug types, American, European and Australian. These plug types are found not only in these countries but in many other countries around the world, making them a good choice for travellers heading to countries that use plug sockets that accept 2 flat pin, 2 round pin and 2 slanted flat pin plugs. However, there are a number of countries that have unique plug sockets that won’t accommodate the adapters found in a worldwide adapter kit.
If you’re travelling around the world you’ll most likely find that a worldwide travel adapter will do the job for most of the destinations you’re visiting. However, if India is on your travel itinerary you may get caught short with these types of adapter! Although you’ll find the European plug in parts of India, you are highly likely to come across the type D socket as well. The type D India plug features 3 round pins and is not as easy to find as European, American and Australian adapters.
The Middle East is becoming more and more popular with gap year travellers, meaning Israel may well be on your travel route. There have been many reports of a combination of plug socket types across the country, including both type C (European) and Type H (Israeli). If you already have a worldwide adapter you’ll already have the European adapter, but you may also want to consider investing in an Israel adapter in case the area you’re travelling to uses this specific socket.
South Africa is another popular gap year destination with a unique plug socket that cannot be found on universal travel adapters. The plug sockets in South Africa are designed to accept plugs with three large round pins…very much like the India adapter but with larger pins. Many of you will possibly be too young to remember, but this is the type M plug, which was used in the UK many years ago! If you’re travelling here, make sure you get the special South Africa travel adapter to enable you to use your appliances.
Another unique plug to look out for is the Italian adapter (type L), which consists of three round pins in a horizontal line, with a grounding pin in the middle. Again, you’ll find that some sockets accept the standard European plug, but many people prefer to use the 3 pin Italian version, as this is safer due to the earth pin.
If you’re backpacking around Europe, you may find yourself making a pit stop in Switzerland. Unlike many other countries in Europe, Switzerland use their own unique plug, type J. The Switzerland plug consists of three round pins, with an offset earth pin and is the most common plug type used throughout the country. Some sockets also accept the standard European plug (type C), but if they are recessed sockets, you won’t be able to fit your Europe adapter in the socket!
When travelling you might find that the voltage can differ from country to country…which is all good and well if your appliances are dual voltage. If an appliance is dual voltage, it will display ’100-240v’ somewhere on the appliance or it’s plug, this basically means that it will work worldwide, without the need to use a transformer to convert voltage. Voltage in the UK is typically 230-240V, but in North America and parts of South America, you’ll find that the voltage is 110/120V.
If you’re travelling to countries with a 110/120V power supply and your appliances are not dual voltage, you will need to invest in a voltage converter. It is recommended that you don’t use voltage converters with hair dryers, straighteners or any other item with a heated element, as this can damage the converter or your appliance…or both!
Here is a list of some popular gap year destinations and the voltage used in each of these countries…
USA – 120V
Canada – 120V
New Zealand – 230V
Australia – 240V
Japan – 100V
China – 220V
Brazil – Can vary between 110/220V
Argentina – 220V
Peru – 220V
Chile – 220V
South Africa – 220/230V
Kenya – 240V
Ghana – 230V
India – 230V
Laos – 230V
Thailand – 220V
Vietnam – 220V
Nepal – 230V
If you’re using UK appliances in any of the countries listed above, you will only need a voltage converter if the voltage in that country is 100/110/120V.
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.