Editor’s Welcome: The ABCs of electricity when traveling


We’ve all seen the line on goofy tourist merchandise: “I went to (destination), and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!”

Well, I went to Barcelona, and all I got was this lousy, frizzy hair.

That was in March of 2020. And it was all because of electricity — a lack thereof.

Yes, I work for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. Yes, I hear about electricity constantly and create/edit energy content all day, every day. And, yes, I managed to forget all about electricity while preparing for the trip abroad.

I failed to factor in the basic ABCs of global electricity. There are different types of electrical sockets/plugs in the world — 15 of them! — assigned alphabet letters. In the United States, we use Type A (with two, flat parallel pins) and Type B (with two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin).

There are 15 plug types used across our wide, wired world.

Spain, however, uses Type C (with two round pins) and Type F (with two round pins and two “earth clips”). So, there was no earthly way I’d be using my mane-taming trifecta of tools — a hair dryer, flat iron and curling iron — without a proper power adapter. I didn’t have one, nor did our Barcelona hotel.

Buy one? I probably could have — if stores were open. But this was March of 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain declared a state of emergency the day after we arrived. Everything was closed, and we spent most of the trip in the hotel (which at least had USB charging available for our phones). Not only did I have awful hair, I had even worse timing. And frizz ended up being the least of my worries during that frazzled time.

We were blessed to arrive home healthy. And this spring, our family was blessed to take the same trip and experience everything we missed due to the shutdown two years ago.

For this trip, I arrived electrically prepared. You can too. If you’re traveling abroad this summer, study up on plug types and safe, suitable adapters. Also, verify that the voltage of your devices is compatible with the voltage of your destination (conversion accessories might be necessary). Ask questions (like if hair dryers are provided) in advance.

But while I researched and packed all the appropriate electrical adapters this time, and they worked fine, I still had frizz.

My hair was the same, but my mindset had changed. Two years later, I just couldn’t be bothered with primping in a hotel when I could be out exploring.

It’s great to stay connected while traveling, yet sometimes we need to unplug too!

Wishing you happy and safe adventures this summer,

Jennifer Christman Cia