We've been bouncing between remote countries and plugging things in for decades, and we've tried out tons of different adapters for doing so. There are plenty of different designs — some bulky, some clumsy, some poorly made or ill-fitting.
That said, most of the time, if you stop at an electronics store or an airport shop before an international flight, you can grab a set of plug adapters that will be fine, they'll 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 one online before you go, you'll be travel just a bit lighter and better.
The Best Plug Adapter to Use Anywhere
This, our favorite adapter, is made by an unknown company in China (of course) and sold under a few brand names, each for about the same price on Amazon. We can find no differences between them so apparently a number of brands have been licensed to sell the same item — our resident product engineer tells us that this is quite common with electronics.
Our recommendation is to click to check prices for each and go for whichever is cheapest at the moment of your purchase: Bukey, DuaFire, Maxracy, and Milool. They were all at just under $15 as of this writing and Milool had the most color options, plus a few variants.
Update history of this article
What We Love About This Plug Adapter
This plug adapter has already gone everywhere with us, on four continents, always without issue. Here's why this Bukey/DuaFire/Maxracy/Milool/whatever adapter is such an improvement over other power converters/plug adapter sets.
Compact: We travel very light (with only a wheeled carry-on backpack) so a set of adapters would mean so much unnecessary bulk when compared to a simple universal solution. A lot of (otherwise good) tech recommendation sites fall down on this issue by recommending adapter sets that are unnecessarily bulky and expensive.
Ready for anywhere: Plans change, trips get lengthened. With a universal adapter you're ready to meet any outlet. You're also always ready for the next trip. And, if you purchase devices with strange plugs in another country, this adapter allows you to use them when you get back home.
Charge multiple devices: Most people now travel with a few devices, 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 two 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.
Relatively inexpensive: At about $15 online, this is much better than the options at electronics stores or airport shops. If you're sure you'll only ever need a single type of adapter, however, you can find even cheaper simple adapters for single places.
What We Wish Were Better
- While this plug adapter can simultaneously power one device via a traditional wall plug and two USB devices, it would be lovely if it also accepted two or three 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 me that there are likely (EU?) regulatory limitations that prevent this.
The Need to Convert Voltage: Really?
Note that this (and any) plug adapter does not convert voltage; if you need to step up or step down (for example, from 110 volts in America to 220 volts in Europe), you instead need to get a bulkier, more expensive voltage converter like this. But 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 check 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, anywhere. If, as is most likely, your devices accept a range of voltages that includes the voltage of the place you are travelling to, you don't need a voltage converter, just a plug converter like this one.
Price Comparison of These Universal Travel Adapters
Here's a quick glance at the prices for this universal plug adapter as sold through different brand names on Amazon.
UPDATE: Wowsbox, the company that markets the DuaFire adapter, has reached out to offer a 20% discount code, valid through August 2018, for our readers who purchase on Amazon: 5JRX8OVW.
The most convenient solution that we've found for converting pretty much any international plug for any international outlet is a plug adapter that is sold with only cosmetic branding differences under these names: Bukey, DuaFire, Maxracy, and Milool. We recommend simply buying whichever is cheapest at the time of your purchase. As of this writing all were in stock and eligible for Amazon Prime members' free two-day shipping.