Europe has long been a favorite travel destination for North Americans, and for a good reason. Europe is a beautiful continent with incredible diversity, fascinating history, and many different cultures and languages, all packed into a relatively small area. Traveling around most of Europe is comfortable and safe, thanks to their excellent transportation network and high standard of living. In order to make the most out of your Europe trip, it’s important you pack correctly, and that includes bringing the right power adapter.
Which power outlets do they use in Europe?
Since most modern-day travelers depend on their phones, tablets, and laptops for a fun and safe trip, it’s critical to know that you’ll be able to charge your devices in each country that you visit. Since wall sockets in Europe are different from those in North America and often vary from country to country, even within Europe, a power adapter is one of the most essential things to pack for your European adventure.
A lot of Europe uses type C, E, and F plugs, which are the kind with two round holes. However, in Switzerland, you’ll find type J sockets, which have three round holes in a triangular formation, and in Italy, they use type F and type L outlets, which have three round holes in a row. If you plan to visit the UK or Ireland, you’ll be using type G sockets, which have three rectangular prongs. In Europe, the electricity is 230 volts, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
What kind of power adapter do I need for Europe?
If you are traveling to Europe from North America, one of the first questions to come to mind is probably, “what electrical adapter should I bring?” Unfortunately, your US devices won’t be able to be charged directly from an outlet in Europe, so you will need to bring an adapter.
I recommend using this Universal Travel Adapter since it works in most countries across Europe and in 100+ countries around the world. This adapter will have no problem charging your cell phone, laptop, tablet, or other devices across Europe. I like this one in particular because it comes with a built-in fuse protector, two additional USB ports which make charging multiple devices at once possible, and a lifetime replacement guarantee.
What’s the electricity and power supply like in Europe?
Europe differs from the US in that a higher portion of the electricity is generated from renewable sources. In Europe, you will often see solar panels along the highways, and wind turbines are quite common on and offshore.
The only downside to this is that electricity tends to be much more expensive in Europe than in other parts of the world. That’s one of the reasons that you will often find fewer outlets in European hotel rooms. Compared to the US, Europeans tend to be more energy conscious and use less electricity per person than Americans. The power grid in Europe is highly modernized and well-maintained, so blackouts are rare, especially in western Europe.
Do I need a voltage converter in Europe?
This depends on the type of electronic devices that you plan to use on your vacation. Most travelers won’t need to bring a voltage converter to Europe unless you plan on using high-powered electronics such as electric kettles or hair dryers that aren’t dual voltage. It is rare that a commonly used electronic device like a laptop, cell phone, or tablet would require a voltage converter.
That said, it’s important to remember that a power adapter doesn’t convert the voltage. Most sockets in Europe have 230 volts, which is twice the voltage of American power sockets and could be too much for certain devices. Prior to departing for Europe, make sure to check the voltage range for each device you plan to use on the trip. Most devices list the voltage range on the bottom or the back of the unit. If any of your devices are 100-120V appliances and not dual voltage, you’ll need a voltage converter to safely use it in Europe.
Other Europe Packing List Items
In addition to your universal European travel adapter, these items are essential for any trip. Also, check out our Europe packing list for more inspiration and ideas.
1. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks
Most of Europe is considered quite safe for traveling, but petty theft can be quite common in Europe. That said, I always like to play it safe wherever I travel by taking along a set of luggage locks for my checked bags. These locks are small and light, yet strong enough to keep thieves out of your bags. They were designed to let TSA agents be able to inspect your bags at security.
2. Jet Lag Relief Pills
The worst part about traveling to Europe is the long flight required to get there. When you touch down after flying trans-Atlantic, if you are like me, you’ll likely be suffering from jet lag and travel exhaustion. These all-natural pills will make it much easier to adjust to the new time zone and enjoy your first days in a new country, so you don’t waste any time.
3. Neck Wallet
This neck wallet was designed with trips like this one in mind. On a journey to Europe, a neck wallet serves two important purposes. First – it makes it possible for you to keep all of your most important items together in one secure place so that you always know where they are. Secondly and most importantly, it protects your money and valuables from any would-be pickpockets.
4. Extra Phone Charging Cables
On a trip to Europe, you’ll need your smartphone often to snap a picture, navigate, or book a hotel room. You definitely don’t want to get caught without some way to charge the battery when you need it most. That’s why I always bring at least one extra phone charging cable on every trip to Europe.
5. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
You’ll want to bring this ultra-portable charger on your trip for the same reason as the extra charging cords. Before I discovered this tiny portable phone charger, I regularly found myself stuck in unfamiliar places with a dead cell phone battery. Now I keep one of these tiny chargers in my pocket at all times, so I know I’ll never get caught out with a dead battery again.
6. Windproof Travel Umbrella
The weather in Europe can be wet and chilly at times, especially if you plan to visit the far north or travel in the off-season. This folding umbrella will protect you from rain and shine and is just as durable as any regular umbrella. Best of all, it packs away to fit in a small daypack or jacket pocket until you need it.
I signed up for this VPN service just prior to my most recent visit to Europe, and it made things easier and safer in many ways. This service changes the location on your phone or computer, so you can log into online accounts as if you were in another country and enjoy safe untraceable internet browsing. It also protects you from ads and malware, tracks and helps with password protection.
8. Packing Cubes
I recommend that travelers to Europe limit themselves to one large piece of luggage to make it easier to travel between cities and countries on the continent. In order to make the most of a small amount of space, I like to organize all my clothes into these handy packing cubes. They come in a set of five different sizes, plus two extra laundry bags for dirty clothes.
9. Travel Insurance
You hope you won’t have to use it, but in case you do, you’ll be relieved to have picked out a good travel insurance plan before your trip to Europe. Travel insurance can cover you in case you get sick or have an accident abroad and need medical care. It also covers cancelations and lost or stolen items. We use TravelInsurance.com because their site lets you easily compare and buy policies from top companies in one convenient place.
Other FAQs about traveling in Europe
1. When is the best time to visit Europe?
Most travelers head for Europe in the summer when the weather is nice, and there are numerous festivals all over the continent. That said, people who prefer a little more peace and quiet should consider visiting during the off-season (September to May) for a more relaxed trip. If you want to get pleasant weather without crushing crowds, try to hit Europe in the early fall or late spring.
2. How much time will I need to experience Europe?
That depends entirely on how much of Europe you plan to cover and how deeply you want to immerse yourself in the culture of the places that you visit. On the shorter end of the spectrum, it’s possible to enjoy three or four cities in under two weeks. To really see a lot of Europe and appreciate the culture and people, I would say three months is an ideal amount of time for a long-distance tour.
3. What is the best way to get around Europe?
Most people arrive in Europe by way of a long international flight. Once you get there, the best way to get around is by bus or train. Europe has an excellent transportation network that makes traveling between countries safe, fun, and comfortable. Many people choose to buy a train pass that allows them to travel between cities anywhere in Europe over a set period of time. You can sometimes find even cheaper deals for similar bus passes.
4. Will I need to worry about border crossings between countries?
If you have traveled much around other parts of the world, you probably have learned to dread border crossings, which are often slow, boring, and expensive. So you’ll be delighted to know that in most of Europe, you can travel between countries without so much as a passport stamp or a customs inspection. This is thanks to the Schengen Area, which is a collection of 26 European countries that have abolished passport requirements and border checkpoints between nations. All you have to do is check in when you arrive in Europe, and you’re good to go.
5. What is a must-see city for a first-time visitor to Europe?
Europe has so many must-see destinations that it’s difficult to pick only a few for one trip. For culture, excellent food, and fascinating history, it’s hard to beat Rome, the center of the western world for thousands of years. Here you can explore ancient ruins, admire famous art and architecture, enjoy delicious Italian food, and even visit the largest church (and smallest country) in the world – the Vatican.