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Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

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Oklahoma City...
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for Oklahoma, Grove
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Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

For charging cell phones, laptops, hair dryer, flat iron, etc. Anybody have recommendations? Last time I was in Switzerland, I bought a $10 converter and it blew out my phone charger. Yikes!!!

I'm purchasing a one month cell phone and plan from callineurope.com unless someone has a better idea. Leaving the Iphone home because last year I had a $300 phone bill when i got back home from overseas.

I never use an ATM machine at home, but do use credit cards exclusively (for the frequent flyer miles). Will my normal VISA card work in an ATM machine? I do have a bank card that is supposed to work on ATM machines so I'll be checking with my bank about that. I know to call the VISA people and let them know I'm traveling otherwise they issue a fraud alert and freeze it. Been there, done that. I had read a NY Times article that said credit cards have to have a chip, but I read here that they don't. Have we figured out who's right yet? My money is on TA people : )

Paris, France
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1. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

Check your transformers. Most accept voltages from 100 VAC to 240 VAC meaning all you need is a simply adapter.

Not so for your hair dryer and/or curling iron. I recommend you leave yours home and either use those provided by hotels or purchase a 220VAC model at Darty or BHP.

<<Will my normal VISA card work in an ATM machine?>>

I am sure it will work. Do you have any idea what you will ultimately pay for a credit card cash advance (which is a high interest loan)?

Chipped credit cards will make your travels easier but no US bank issues them so I recommend having a bit of cash always on hand.

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

Best to get an ATM card (debt Master or Visa) for your checking account to avoid paying for cash advances on your credit card. It will work in 99% of the ATMs there.

For a cheaper solution to mobile phones read Rick Steves' Europe: Mobile Phones in Europe www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/mobilephones.htm

Double check your electronic equipment chargers. Most now say 110v-240v, so you just need the cheap plug shape adapter.

Oklahoma City...
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for Oklahoma, Grove
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3. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

Sarastro and spdickey, thank you for your replies. I will get a simple adapter this time. We are in an apartment so we'll be purchasing those hair items I guess, once we get there. I don't know what I pay for a cash advance...never used that feature. I was planning on having cash on hand in case my cards don't work in the ATM so I could still pay for the taxi and I have to pay my security deposit in cash when we arrive at the apartment. One of my cards is associated with my checking account and is supposed to work in ATM's as well. Never used it, though. I'll check the Rick Steves' link. Thanks.

Kamloops, BC...
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4. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

Hi -

I agree with the above -- but I add - get more than one adapter. They're cheap, so it's not a major purchase. Occasionally you'll run into an older outlet that is deeper than the modern ones. If you piggyback two adapters, you can plug in those items with the lie flat against the wall AC adapters without any trouble. I carry several adapters so I can plug in my camera and BlackBerry, and still have enough even if I leave one behind somewhere. I haven't tried a multi-charger, so I don't know if they're a good idea, but if anyone has, please post your results. Did it work overseas?

I don't waste expensive vacation time on hair dryers, etc., but if you do, buy locally when you get to your first European destination. The problem with the dual voltage dryers is that they're slow because of the European 50 cycles (North America is 60), and curling irons and flat irons, often don't work at all, overheat, or, and I speak from experience, blow all the circuits in the entire building. I was in the elevator in a small hotel in Brussels when it happened. I remained in the elevator for 4 hours while the housekeeping staff repaired the problem. If you decide not to purchase these appliances in Europe, please advise me of your hotel choices so I can adjust mine accordingly. Once is more than enough, no matter how attractive the elevator.

Oklahoma City...
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for Oklahoma, Grove
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5. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

1BCTraveler, good information. I'm going to WalMart tomorrow morning and will purchase several adaptors instead of only one. We're staying in an apartment adjacent from Place des Vosges so beware....there will be several hairdryers and at least one flat iron and one set of electric curlers going every morning around 7 - 8 am : ) Me...I have naturally curly and short hair (my way of dealing with diving for a week on a dive boat) so won't be using any of the electric hair appliances.

Metro Vancouver
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6. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

The interest on credit cards advance is often around 20% and the charge starts the second you get cash. Please get an ATM card..I have used mine in places like China without problem. One thing to be aware of is that banks often do maintenance in the middle of the night so if you try to get cash in the morning in France the ATM may block the transaction. Try again a few hours later...and take enough for several days of small purchases (metro tickets, snacks, newspapers...)

Credit cards are fine for everything else.

Edited: 1:04 am, May 17, 2010
Tampa, Florida
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7. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

I'm not positive, but I think I'm the only female thus far (other than you, Bips) on this thread, so I can answer the haircare question with, I'm fairly certain, a little more experience. (If you guys want to curl your hair, well.....!!!)

You do NOT have to buy a curling iron or hair dryer in Paris. It's a waste of time and money to go out and look for and buy something you use once a year, if that.

Walmart and Target carry Conair...and Conair makes an excellent dual-voltage curling iron and hair dryer (about $15-20 each, if I recall). Look at the back of the package -- it will say it's dual voltage for worldwide travel. All you need is a plug adaptor (and to turn the switch on the bottom to the other current)

I've been using the Conair iron and dryer I have for over a decade -- and a goodly portion of that was for work (in Europe for 10days-2 weeks at a time, 4-6 times per year....when I *had* to look polished and put-together.

I *still* use my Conair iron with an adaptor...and I live here. There is no discernible difference in performance when these products run on 110 or 220 volts...if there were a difference, I guarantee I would have bought a European model when I had endless meetings to attend.

Save your time and money for something else.

And yike....don't EVER use your credit card in an ATM unless it's a full-on emergency. The interest is crippling.

Boston...
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8. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

Another word of warning about using your credit cards in an atm for cash advance:

Not only is the interest exorbitant, but many cards require you pay off your entire credit card balance before any payments are applied to cash advance amount.

New Hampshire
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9. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

I'm another huge fan of dual voltage hair appliances. I've been traveling to Paris for over 15 years with the same Conair dual voltage curling brush and blow dryer I use at home. The curling brush (no switch, adjusts automatically) works exactly as at home. The blow dryer, when turned to the other voltage, switches on only on "low", but this is the same or better (heat, air flow) as "high" at home. With either, all that is needed is a plug adapter.

I completely agree that a lot of time would be wasted shopping for hair care appliances. They'll cost more, and you may not find a suitable model. And, there's no point investing in appliances (and having to haul them home) that can only be used in Europe.

Flat irons are a bit more tricky - many popular brands do not come in a dual voltage model, but do come with a warning that they are not to be used with converters. A converter is not a good idea, anyway, and usually does not work, with an appliance that either heats up or has a motor. So, anyone needing a flat iron may have to shop a bit harder for a dual voltage model.

But, with any curling/straightening appliance, models are quite different in Paris, so it's better to acquire a dual voltage one at home that will achieve the desired results.

simpsonville,sc
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10. Re: Plug adapter or converter? Cell phone preferences? ATM?

ATMs are the way to . Make sure you have a DEBIT card linked to your checking account with a 4 digit PIN. Check on how much you can withdraw at a time. Cash advances on credit cards. are VERY pricey. I generally leave home w/ 100euro or pounds in cash (from AAA) and get what Ineed from ATM. I do use credit card for larger purchases-I have Cap. One