London Travel Tips

For the next few months, I’m visiting London and am spending a semester exploring the United Kingdom as part of my college’s study abroad program. I spent the last few days settling in and getting adjusted to the rather gloomy weather and small food portions. I also made a little vlog to share highlights from my time in Great Britain. I won’t bore you with details though; I’m writing to talk about my experiences while using my notebook abroad. I discovered a couple of tips which will make time away from the US easier, at least technology-wise.

As most travelers know, many countries have their own take on the electrical outlet. In my opinion, England’s is easily one of the funkiest:

UK Power Outlet

I thought I came prepared for the problem. I bought a UK converter that plugs into the wall and provides a familiar US-style outlet. However, since my computer charger (shown below) has 3 prongs, I purchased an additional 3-prong to 2-prong electrical adapter. I expected that I’d be able to combine the two and charge my notebook without any issues. Boy was I wrong!

Adapter with CordWhen I plugged my computer charger into my Frankenstein creation, it started to spark and made scary electrical noises. Needless to say, my notebook wasn’t getting the proper amount of electricity and didn’t get charged. I got pretty worried at this point but fortunately, a classmate was able to show an extremely simple solution. It turned out that my UK converter was actually capable of powering my 3-pronged charger. Since it didn’t have a hole for the 3rd prong, all I’d have to do is turn it upside down, like so:Properly Connected ChargerUsing this method, I was able to get my computer charged without having to buy any additional gizmos. If you’re having trouble understanding the above setup, see if the picture below helps:Charging Again!Armed with this knowledge, I did a little playing around and learned something else important. I brought a bunch of tech equipment with me to the UK, some of which (i.e. my external hard drive) refused to charge even when properly plugged in. I also happened to bring a surge protector along, in hopes of avoiding buying any more UK converters. When I plugged my surge protector in using the technique shown above, it worked perfectly. In fact, I think it created an environment which provided the same amount of voltage the plugs back home do- my external hard drive and all the other “faulty” devices were able to be charged when plugged in to the surge protector!

I hope these two tips help someone make their trip to the UK less stressful. I’ll be keeping you updated in case I find out anything else that’s useful!

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