With travel on the horizon once more, it’s time to start thinking about investing in the accessories no jet-setter should be without, and adapters deserve to be at the very top of that list.
If you’re still relying on the one you picked up at Dubai airport 20 years ago, then it’s time to upgrade – ideally to one with at least one USB port and the ability to help you stay connected in a minimum of 150 countries.
Features to look out for include mechanisms that allow the prongs to slide smoothly into place and slot quickly back in when not in use, and a small LED light that will show you when the power’s on.
One thing you don’t have to worry too much about though is surge protection – these days, the majority of adapters have this built in.
We’ve included a number of travel adapters designed especially for smaller items of tech such as iPhones and iPads, simply because these days many leisure travellers are more likely to carry numerous smaller gadgets, rather than larger items such as laptops.
We tested our adapters by using them with a wide range of gadgets, paying careful attention to the way in which interchangeable adapters could be swapped and how securely the prongs stayed in place
We quickly realised the benefit to a number of extras we hadn’t considered before, whether it was dedicated pouches with clearly marked compartments or extra-clear markings indicating which country a certain adapter was most likely to be required in.
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OneAdaptr all-in-one world adapter with USB-C & 3 USB charger
You can plug five devices into this all-singing, all-dancing adapter which has three USB ports, a USB C port and the ability to do its thing in 150 countries. It has brilliant packaging – in this case a book-like box with a magnetic closure that looks and feels far too good to simply be tossed in the bin. For extra points in the packaging department, this adapter also comes with its own colour-coordinated drawstring pouch.
Our favourite feature was the way in which the prongs slid out – unlike other adapters, which required a separate button to be pressed, we simply needed to press and hold the same button that we used to slide out the prongs.
Buy now £35.96, Oneadaptr.com
Mophie charge stream global travel kit
This adapter, designed with smart phones in mind, is another product with brilliant packaging – in this case, a sturdy pouch with clearly identifiable sections for the various components, which include a wireless charging station, five interchangeable adapters, a micro-USB cable and a car adapter.
Sadly we didn’t have a phone with wireless charging capability on which to test the wireless charger, but we were still able to charge our phone the traditional way, using the USB port. We loved the ultra-bright LED light that appeared when this adapter was in use, as well as the way in which the different components slotted firmly but quickly into place.
Buy now £24.95, Zagg.com
Anker 65W 3-port charger
This is another wonderfully compact adapter designed with phones and USB C-charging laptops in mind, although the tiny size of the different attachments might be a downside for those prone to clumsiness. However, we loved the ease with which they slotted into the body of the main unit, which provides plenty of power.
Two USB-A ports and one USB-C port (the type most Samsung users will be familiar with) offer a total of 65W of output, which can be used to power three devices simultaneously. We loved the sky-blue trim, and the bright blue light offered a welcome alternative to the standard red.
Buy now £39.99, Amazon.co.uk
Samsonite worldwide adapter
This is a sturdy, reliable adapter that will keep you connected in 150 countries. The various prongs slide out with satisfying ease, and a two-year warranty will appeal to those prone to slinging their adapters in cramped corners of backpacks and suitcases.
Perhaps we’re nit-picking, but we would have loved to see a flash of colour, and we can’t help but feel £35 is a little steep when it’s easy to find adapters with USB ports (which this one doesn’t have) for much less.
Buy now £35.00, Samsonite.co.uk
Twelve South plugbug duo
A lot of thought has gone into the design of the Ferrari-red plugbug duo, as well as its packaging. The PlugBug comes tucked into a sturdy cardboard box with cut-out holes for the various components. Designed for use with Apple gadgets such as iPhones, MacBooks and iPads, it has five interchangeable adapters that allow it to be used in 150 countries. MacBooks or iPads can be plugged into the base and there are two USB ports on the side.
Buy now £29.99, Amazon.co.uk
Heys universal adapter
This is a compact, top-quality adapter with the ability to charge a wide range of gadgets, and a great price tag – just £24. It’s far from basic, with two USBs, a sleek red trim and a locking action that means the prongs stay put when extended but will easily slide back in when they’re no longer needed.
One aspect that proved unexpectedly useful was the red outline around the holes for the prongs of three-pinned UK plugs – when fumbling around in semi-darkness, this acted as a handy visual guide.
Buy now £24.00, Qvcuk.com
Go Travel worldwide adapter & USB
Go Travel’s adapter errs on the chunky side (it’s surprisingly heavy) but it’s got a thoughtful, top-quality design, with two USB ports and a sturdy locking mechanism that will keep the various prongs in place. A gold star was awarded for the clearly marked wording next to the controls for each set of prongs – it’s all too easy to forget which countries have which sockets.
There are two USB ports and we appreciated the positioning of the LED light that appears when it’s plugged in – the light is on the bottom, so you’ll be able to quickly tell whether it’s turned on if you know where to look but its position means it’s unlikely to keep you awake if you’re easily disturbed.
Buy now £39.99, Go.travel/uk
Herschel travel adapter
A stylish adapter contained in a zip lock-style (but inevitably landfill-destined) plastic bag, Herschel’s contribution to connectivity will appeal to style-conscious jetsetters. It’s got a sleek pared-back look and the casing has a rubberised feel which offers a welcome alternative to cold, hard plastic.
There are two USB ports on the side and the design is slightly different to most adapters, with the prongs positioned in a way which means you’ll need to rotate the adapter depending on which set you’re using. Our one gripe was that the sliding controls erred on the stiff side and more than once we had to prise out the prongs manually.
Buy now £45.00, Herschelsupplyco.co.uk
Flight 001 5-in-1 universal travel adapter
Why can’t all adapters look like this? A colourful, Lego-like stack of interchangeable adapters that slot easily in and out, the flight 001 5-in-1 universal travel adapter has two USBs and comes in a neat, sturdy box that doubles as the perfect carrying case.
Although this is an adapter made up of multiple parts, rather than internal, fixed prongs that simply slide in and out, the ease with which the pieces slot together – and the clever use of colour – means the likelihood of any part being left behind is slim to none.
Buy now £29.00, Conranshop.co.uk
The verdict: Travel adapters
The brilliant and stylish OneAdaptr all-in-on world adapter is proof that an adapter really can serve multiple purposes without making any sacrifices in the quality department.
However, the Mophie charge stream global travel kit is one of the best travel adapters designed with smart phones in mind and the Anker 65W 3-port charger is a stylish, compact adapter that is ideal for families.
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