Travel Power Adapters – Which one should I bring on my Trip?

Travel Power Adapters

This was me in Bora Bora. Can anyone relate?

One of the most frequent questions I get from my clients is, “What power adapter should I bring on my next trip?”.

It’s a great question, especially if you’ve ever experienced the pain of blowing out a curling iron or spent half a day walking around Paris looking for a French plug to recharge your phone.

Bloggers or photographers probably recognize my collection of electronics (photo shown).  On my last trip to Bora Bora I took all that and more.  If you only need to charge your cellphone, the step-down conversion is built in to most phones and a small adapter is sufficient.

However, Digital Cameras, GoPro, extra batteries, stabilizers, iWatch, laptop, curling iron and more require a step-down adapter with multiple plugs and UBS outlets. This step-down adapter (I bought mine on Amazon) is not only necessary for conversion, but also useful to charge multiple items at once.

Many batteries take hours to charge, so extra outlets are crucial.  Battery backups and a fully charged GoPro are always handy the night before an exciting dive or Eclipse viewing.

Based on my experiences (the good, the bad & the ugly), I layout opinions and recommendations on power adapters to bring with you to France or French Polynesia.

Papeete Tahiti – Power Outlets & Power Converters

Power Converter with grounding Intercontinental Papeete tahiti

Power Converter with grounding Intercontinental Papeete Tahiti

Most people refer to the entire archipelago of Islands in French Polynesia as ‘Tahiti’, but Tahiti is really the name of the main island. Home to Papeete, the largest city in French Polynesia, Tahiti boasts the only international airport on the islands and the largest port from where most cruise ships depart.

I stayed at the best hotel on Tahiti, the Intercontinental, and my experience with power converters was very good.  My mother’s flat iron didn’t work with the small, cheaper adapter she brought on Amazon.  Her small converter did not have a ground and would not plug in or charge.  She was grateful I brought my step-down converter with the grounding plug (pictured here), that worked.

If you stay anywhere else on the island, I recommend the grounded plug step-down converter, as you are likely to have issues with just a simple charger. The picture left, from the Intercontinental Tahiti, shows the grounded outlet (2 plugs) and the non-grounded option on the right.

Sometimes saving money on these things can backfire, because buying a flat iron locally is costly. In Papeete, expect a $30 USD round trip taxi ride the CarreFour and $40 USD for the flat iron.  Plus try asking for a flat iron when nobody speaks English (lucky I had my translator downloaded on my phone!).

Power Adapters at Hotels in Bora Bora or other Islands n French Polynesia

Bora Bora Thalasso Overwater Sapphire Bungalow

Bora Bora Thalasso Overwater Sapphire Bungalow

In French Polynesia the In power plugs or sockets are type A, B and E. The standard voltage is 110 / 220 V and the standard frequency is 60 / 50 Hz.  This webpage on power plugs and adapters does a really good job of breaking it down.

While Papeete Tahiti, it was pretty easy to use American appliances, in Bora Bora and other smaller islands, ONLY a step-down converter worked.  My Mom’s iPhone charged up, but very slowly.  Keep this in mind.  There were also limited plugs in the overwater bungalow, so I was glad to have the extra USB plugs.

So I recommend a step down converter like one below, to be on the safe side.  You can also use this with an American plug to add up to 6 outlets.  Be careful of the cable that comes with the converter.  2 Prongs generally will NOT work.  You need a grounded 3 prong plug:

Cruise Ships Departing From Papeete

Plugs on Windstar Windspirit

Plugs on Windstar Wind Spirit Cruise Ship

As of this writing, there are only a few ships that operate primarily out of French Polynesia. The Paul Gauhin and WIndstar Cruises.  The Paul Gauguin has both outlets, whereas the WindStar is based on each ship.

I was on the Tahitian Dreams cruise with the Windspirit and the plugs were all 110, except the bathroom with a 220 plug for shavers.  They had plenty of plugs, which was really nice considering all the equipment I bring.

However, I was grateful I brought my converter because it allowed me to charge my crazy amount of gear.

The Larger ships like Regent Cruises, Norwegian or Oceania always have 110 ‘USA’ outlets.  However, it always pays to check with your travel agent or the cruise line to verify the plugs onboard.

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