Ask Paul: Charging PCs and Gadgets in Europe

Posted on February 4, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile with 0 Comments

If you travel internationally, you’ll need the right adapters so you can use your PCs and gadgets abroad. But you will also need to be careful of adapters that can’t switch voltages.

Ken K. asks:

I remember your segment last summer about your trip to Europe.  What did you do for chargers for your gadgets?  I’m traveling to Europe this summer and have not decided what tablet to bring to keep up on work items, and was wondering what you did for chargers?


My family does a home swap in Europe each summer—this year will be our 10th—and I’ll be writing about various topics for this year’s trip in the summer. But this is an easy one:

As long as your devices can switch voltages–and all modern computers/tablets/phone chargers can–you just need simple and inexpensive adapters.


Most of Europe uses the same type of charger port(s), which come in grounded and ungrounded versions (for two- and three-prong adapters, respectively), but the UK has its own large, awkward plug. You can buy a bunch in a set, like this one from Or buy them individually. I usually get mine from Rick Steves.

I keep a few bag full of each type since we have so many devices. (And we have separate bags for UK and AUS/NZ too.)


But here’s a tip: I always travel with a travel-sized power strip like this one (Just $10 at and it works great in Europe, too: This lets you dangle four US-based devices off a single European power port (you just need one adapter for the power strip), which is key since most European homes we’ve stayed in don’t have as many power ports as we do in the US.


Note: Be careful with your adapters just in case. If a device you’re using doesn’t have the ability to convert between 110 and 220-volts, you will destroy it if you plug it in while in Europe. This has only happened to me twice: 15 years ago with a digital camera battery charger and several years ago with an Xbox 360 (and how a power supply that big doesn’t convert voltages is beyond me; I didn’t even check).

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