I mentioned briefly that my wife and I took our 3 month old daughter on her first international trip. During the government shutdown she’s been unable to have a Global Entry interview since being conditionally approved in late December so we managed to secure her interview on arrival back in the U.S..
We had spent 5 nights in Europe. On a Europe trip of that length I’d normally just pack a carry on bag. My wife would as well. But with our daughter in tow we needed luggage. And once we’re checking bags anyway I don’t see much harm in incremental luggage, either. There’s a benefit to traveling light, not having to get to the airport early enough to check bags, and not waiting for checked bags to arrive on the other end. But if you’re wasting time anyway, might as well bring even more stuff.
It’s amazing to me how much ‘stuff’ goes into traveling with a baby — all the extra clothes, all the diapers and wipes (which of course can be secured on arrival), and everything that goes into feeding her. And since we’re checking luggage anyway we decided to make things as easy as at home.
Normally when I travel to Europe everything I need is dual voltage like my cell phone and laptop. Therefore in order to charge these things I just need an adapter to plug into the wall so that my cord first the socket, something simple like this universal adapter rather than using different adapters for different countries. I keep a couple in my laptop bag.
My wife has dual voltage hair devices, I really don’t know about flat irons versus curling irons or whatever it is, I just know that she has travel items she can take anywhere. However for most people using hair devices that run at high temperatures they need a good voltage converter.
- The US runs on 110 volt electricity. Japan is 100 volts, while Europe, Asia, and Australia run between 220 volts and 240 volts.
- Devices not set up to run on whatever electricity is available – like curling irons, flat irons and the like, need to have voltage converted or else you might fry the device, or blow a fuse in your room.
A voltage converter though isn’t going to help with electronics that aren’t dual voltage. That’s because a converter just chops the electricity sine wave in half, which isn’t ideal for more sensitive devices.
A transformer on the other hand changes the current to something closer to another pure voltage.
My daughter is sleeping really well through the night, however while my wife is amazing with our daughter and bears much of the burden of taking care of her I’m the one that gets up with her during the night so I have to feed her with a bottle which is its own production process. I’ve got a device that makes it super quick and easy, gets the temperature perfect instantly. But this requires a transformer. I’m checking bags anyway, why not bring all the devices — and even a transformer?
In choosing a converter or transformer you need to know the maximum wattage that a device operates at. And you want a converter or transformer that is certified to operate at greater than that wattage. That’s no big deal for a converter, but transformers can be large, bulky, and heavy.
Since I was only looking to power something at 110 volts that maxes out at 250 watts, I want a transformer that’s as small and light as possible while supporting that. Hence a 350 watt transformer like this one.
At some level supporting highe wattage is better, but it comes at a bigger size and weighs more. The version that supports 2000 watts is about twice as large as the one I brought and weighs 35 pounds! (It just has more wrapped metal inside.) That’s why I only wanted a device with the minimum specs to support my needs.
Basically if you just need to power your phone and laptop, all you need is an adapter to plug it into the wall. A razor or electric toothbrush may work that way as well, you just want to know if your device is dual voltage.
If you need to use hair devices that operate on high heat you’re going to need a converter. You just need to know how many watts the device needs, and get a converter that supports materially higher wattage than that.
But if you’re using electronics that aren’t dual voltage you need a transformer. For travel you want the smallest one possible based on the wattage of your device — because 7 pounds works much better in checked luggage than 30 pounds or more!