This is a question I often got while living outside the U.S. Friends and family would come to visit and one of their first questions was “Will my hairdryer work there? Will I burn it out?”
Totally reasonable questions. Since the U.S. is on 110v current and, well, just about everywhere else in the world is on 220v current, items which require electricity and wired for 110v will literally get smoked by 220v current. And, this questions holds true for far more than just hairdryers. Think about everything you have to charge everyday – phone, tablet, computer, camera, Fitbit, etc. That’s a lot of things you likely will need during your trip and that will have to be plugged in or charged at some point.
The good news is that anything with a USB-style charger can generally be plugged into any USB charging port. With many hotels now having USB-charging ports next to regular outlets, you can use the USB cord that is appropriate for the device you want to charge. Similarly, a wall plug-in (with or without an adaptor) that has a USB port will work just fine. Only suggestion is to check the wall plug-in to make sure it’s not getting too hot. I’ve found some stay nice and cool while others get a bit warmer than I’d like.
Now, anything that has a regular old plug can get a little tricky. Some adaptors (the actual prongs that go into the socket) and converters (that change the current) are great and others are terrible. There’s no good way to know other than trial and error. I wish I had a brand or style to suggest that’s worked everywhere and every time. My suggestion is to not plug anything of major value into a socket as a test of the adaptor/converter you have. Gee, that’s helpful you say…..
Your best bet is to just buy the hairdryer, shaver, small thing that needs electricity once you arrive in your destination. I guarantee that in any country you visit, there will be a pharmacy/chemist/CVS or Walmart-like store where you can pick one up pretty cheap. This will do 2 things for you – 1. Force you to venture out and thus discover new things and 2. See all the wonderful things that can be found at pharmacies or stores abroad where real people shop.
You then either have forever a 220v ‘travel hairdryer’ or you can donate it to the hotel or inn that you are staying at for some future sad American who burned out their hairdryer.
In Europe, the shops you can find these types of items includes: Boots, Tesco, Carrafour, Metro AG, Coop Italia, and many, many more.
In the Middle East, check out Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, or one of the many independent pharmacies.
In Africa, depending on where you go on the continent you can find a Nakumatt, Spar, Pick n Pay, Woolworths, or many independent pharmacies.
In East Asia, look for Marks & Spencer (yes, the British outfit), Carrefour, Big C, ParkNShop, and lots, lots more.
Finally, in Central and South America, look for Carrefour, Tia, Walmart/Sam’s Club/Big, as well as many smaller independent shops and pharmacies.
Generally speaking, if you get really stuck, your hotel or inn will have adaptors, converters, and, most likely hairdryers, that you can borrow during your stay. Just don’t be shocked if there’s a fee or deposit required for the item – these things tend to leave inadvertently with wary travelers.
Travel Safe! (and have great hair!)