WiFi is readily available throughout the European Union. To take advantage of the other devices you do bring, you’ll need to consider some basic variables—particularly in regard to the services that will be available in the countries you visit. You’ll encounter a range of electrical current standards, varied physical plug configurations to access that current, erratic availability (electricity and internet access), and different technological standards. You’ll need to coordinate your power and data storage needs, and the accessories required to recharge/connect/use these devices under the different conditions you’ll encounter. You’ll find some tips below aimed at ensuring that your gadgets achieve their full potential.
Regional Electricity: Outside the U.S. most countries use electrical systems that differ from the standard U.S. 110 V 60 Hz current and flat two- or three-pronged polarized plug system. The use of 220-240 V and 50/60 Hz current is the overwhelming choice for the rest of the world. Plug shapes, sizes, and configurations vary from country to country and often inside countries as well. In addition, some plugs will work with multiple receptacles and some won’t. Europe is largely and conveniently standardized to the Type C “Europlug”.
We suggest that you bring dual voltage appliances that will work on both 110 and 220/240 voltage. These are widely available, though you may have to read the fine print to confirm the dual voltage capability. With dual voltage appliances you’ll only need to carry whatever plug adapters you need – which are both inexpensive and reliable. If you do choose to bring 110 V American appliances, such as a hair dryer (note that hotels often supply hairdryers and coffee makers) or shaver, you’ll need a current transformer (to cut the 220/240 V in half) as well as the necessary plug adapters. Transformer/adapter kits can usually be found at your local hardware or at many online stores. Spain uses the Type C “Europlug” and the Type F plugs and receptacles that accommodate them and 230 V/50 Hz current. If you use multiple digital devices—cell phone, digital camera, and MP3 player for instance – it’s handy to have a travel power strip to increase the number of available outlets for charging these devices. Some types include surge suppressors and USB-style plugs capable of charging cell phones and MP3 players without the need for a brand-specific charging block – saving weight and packing space. You’ll have to review the specifications of your device to ensure that it will work with the power strip you choose—and that the power strip will work with the various voltages you may encounter.
Cell Phones: If you want to use a cell phone while traveling overseas, be sure to check whether your own phone will work outside the U.S. or whether you’re better off renting an international phone. To use your own phone, it’s best to investigate the options and fees your plan offers for international use. Consult your service provider for details.