The Compact Universal Power Adapter I Use on All My International Travels

When you travel outside the United States, most countries have different power outlets.

  • Their outlets don’t fit U.S. plugs
  • They may have a different electric current.

Generally I don’t worry about the electric current. Most modern electronics are going to be ‘dual voltage’ so you just have to be able to plug them into the socket, regardless of the current.

Women’s styling devices are a different matter, hair dryers, curling irons, and all sorts of devices I don’t understand require a power converter so athey don’t burn out. You plug the converter into the adapter and the device into the converter.

Fortunately I don’t carry stuff like that with me. I mostly just need to make the power cords for my laptop, cell phone, and wireless internet device plug into the wall.

  • I used to use adapters specific to each region. They’re small and cheap. But I had so many of them, they’re cumbersome. I had to pick the right ones. And needing them for every region they turn out to be more expensive than a universal adapter.
  • But those universal adapters are usually bulky, the size of several adapters. And often they aren’t well made.

Here’s the one I’ve been using though that I’m very happy with. It was recommended to me by Joe Brancatelli. I carry a couple of them in my laptop bag and they don’t really take up room or add weight. And I don’t have to think about what adapters I’ll need for a given trip.

Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter

The adapter is made even more useful because I also carry a compact travel power strip with me. Then I can plug in 3 devices with only one adapter. I’ve carried the Monster Outlets-to-Go power strip for five years.

And I use the power strip:

  • in hotel rooms (“this room has too many outlets” said no hotel guest ever)
  • in airports (which never have enough outlets, and there’s always someone else using them when I need them, I ask if we can share)

These are basic, inexpensive items I use in my daily travels. Since they’re easily accessible at Amazon I’ve included my Amazon links for them.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] On the recommendation of my colleague Gary Leff, I now carry a Monster MP OTG400 BK Outlets To Go Power Strip. Why? Hotels, airports and especially cruises often only have one or two outlets, and that’s just not enough to charge all of my devices. And if my wife is with me, “Fuhgeddaboudit,” since she always has three devices (iPhone, iPad and computer) going at once. This travel power strip only costs $11 on Amazon, has 4 AC outlets and is ultra-compact so it can fit into luggage and briefcases (dimensions: 6.25″ x 2.25″ x 1.8″). […]


  1. As an adjunct faculty member, am I permitted to purchase a university power adapter, or do I need to be on tenure track?

  2. I think that it is just very well educated – for a power adapter. Also, voltage is not the same as current – you mean voltage everywhere current is used in this post.

  3. It’s worth noting that the power strip you mention in this post (and many others) does not include surge-protection. I was considering purchasing one but had to do quite a bit of digging to find an actual answer from the manufacturer regarding this. Not saying you ever made the claim that it is a surge protector, just hoping this reply will save others the trouble of looking for that answer.

  4. The UK version shown on the packaging looks very flimsy. Not sure I would want to use that in a 240v outlet.

  5. thanks Gary, good advice, does the adapter fit a 3 prong plug? How do you plug the power strip into the adapter, which appears to only fit a 2 prong plug?

  6. What about the $5 adapter I bought on ur recommendation a few years ago?? is this better? or just different?

  7. I found out the hard way that none of the kits have South Africa adapter. I was able to find a SA to EU adapter in a local store. I think the SA adapter is a way old England power plug style.

  8. I know some people might consider me small minded, but the constant and increasing mis-use of the English language is driving me crazy! University for universal? Gimme a break. Bad grammar or using an incorrect word detracts from the message that the author is trying to convey and undermines credibility. Bring back the EDITORS!!

  9. Great tip! I hate most universal adapters, they don’t last a year. The dedicated ones are usually sturdy, but it requires research. I just ordered the one you recommended!

    I also bought a power strip for my last trip, but I think I’m going to try a 4 USB port charger. Even if I bring the strip, I won’t need several USB-electric plugs, just the cables.

  10. @mmt I was able to use this adapter in SA a few months ago at several hotels. There was one outlet that I was able to use this with in each room. I don’t know if that is the case in every room though.

  11. in hotel rooms (“this room has too many outlets” said no hotel guest ever)

    Actually . . . I think Lucky did, in his review of the Cairo Airport LeMeridien . . .

  12. Thanks for the tip! So many of the universal adapters look cumbersome, and I’ve doubted that they would work well. This looks more promising. I’ll give it a try.

  13. Most “women’s styling devices” are also dual-voltage these days, but it’s important to check, since plugging a 120 V curling iron into a 220 V outlet will zap it. Personally I don’t see the point of packing a hair dryer since any decent hotel will supply one, but I own a tiny lightweight dual-voltage flat iron that lives permanently in my suitcase and cost less than $15.

  14. lol, I just posted on fb that my old APS version of the same thing was the only adapter that worked for me in the in Changi at the CX/PP Skylounge that CX uses there.

    Lounge attendents had some non-working adaptors and I didn’t have the right one with me, other than the old APS universal adaptor, looks pretty much the same.

  15. I have used this adapter for years, but my experience is that it simply doesn’t work in outlets in South Africa. I tried several times, but it just wouldn’t stay connected. I also have found that it rarely works in the UK, but I did make it work one time, so I can’t say it never works. Others may have had different levels of luck, but for me I must bring different UK and SA adapters with me.

    It has worked fine for me elsewhere.

  16. I have the same question as Carl…
    I bought both items. How do i plug in the extension cord into the adapter if the extension cord is 3 prong and the adapter is 2 prong?

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