We prepared thoroughly for our dream vacation to Germany last summer. Gathered over a period of months: travel books, passports, Google maps, email hotel confirmations, fanny packs, and of course, International Plug Adapters for all the electronics. We knew that nearly every day we’d need to charge the laptop, the digital camera, the second digital camera, the cell phone, the other cell phone, the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo DS Lite, and the other Nintendo DS Lite (we have 3 children!).
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Click here to see our Sleeps5 post about adapters and transformers, necessary for family travel.
Not Enough Outlets
However, we didn’t consider that hotels in Europe are historical, and don’t have an electrical outlet every 5 feet along each wall that we have in our Seattle remodeled home. Arriving at our first hotel at 10:30pm, we placed 5 pieces of luggage in as much of an orderly fashion as we could in our ‘family room’, and began to search for the outlets to juice-up those modern day necessities. We found two. Needlessly alarmed, it didn’t matter anyway, since we only brought one European adapter which plugged into the wall outlet, and enabled one of our electronic items to plug into it. Oops.
We put ourselves on sort of a rotation schedule, where we’d consider the most important item to charge and allow it first access to the plug adapter upon our return to the hotel room at the end of the day. Thankfully, many items didn’t need daily recharging, and some items only required an hour or two to be fully charged.
DH’s phone took top plug-in priority, followed closely by the kids’ Nintendos. Carried in over-the-shoulder pouches, each kid relied on his DS to make bearable the queueing in lines every day, the unendurable wait for our restaurant waitperson to bring the bill (see photo),
and to make enjoyable the after-dinner times in the hotel with only CNN and BBC in English on tv. You can imagine that DH and I came to love those DSs, too! Anything to decrease travel whining and the quick acceleration of ‘activity level’ 3 boys can muster up.
Trouble with Power
On our first morning though, waking in Munich, we had a problem. A DS had been plugged in to the outlet adapter all night. The little indicator light hadn’t elluminated when it was plugged in the night before, but we hoped that it was charging anyway. It hadn’t.
I was worried and had NO idea about what to do. We figured we’d just have to do without and proceeded to our first stop, the BMW Museum. DH knows a bit about electricity though, and had a plan. Without trying to explain it to me (smart guy! Or maybe just tired of talking that day?), he helped us return to our hotel after our first full day of sight seeing, then, though the rest of us were hot, exhausted, and unable to take another step, he announced he’d be back in a while and took off on foot down the street.
He returned with a power adapter specially made for Nintendo DSs. Too focused on wanting just to solve the problem at hand, it was much later that he told me he had located the adapter in a tiny electronics store, and explained that in the US we have a 110 volt electrical system, and Europe has 220. Even if you have an adapter to go between the wall outlet and your plug, you’ll still need to transform the power difference. Many electronics’ charger plugs somehow transform the difference internally. Apparently our cameras and phones’ chargers could. A charger that came with a DS purchased a while back cannot. (Newer DS Lites’ chargers can transform the power – read the print on your electronic gadget to find out.)
If your kid’s DS cannot transform the power, you can take your chances in finding an electronics store in Europe and purchasing an adapter there, or buy one before you go.
All About Adapters
For an explanation of adapter needs for all kinds of electronics and any country, visit adaptelec.com. The countries are in alphabetical order. Click on one, and the Plugging In page will tell you about that country’s plug requirements. Click on the tab called “220-240 Volts vs. 110-120” to learn how to check if your electronic item is compatible or if it needs an extra voltage converter or transformer.
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To read about this adapter from Amazon.com, click the image below. The package description says it adjusts to all voltages in US, Europe, and Asia. You can search for adapters for other countries, too.
To see a similar adapter from Amazon.co.uk, click this image.
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