Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How (Not) To Use a Flatiron in India

My travel tip today is inspired by a funny thing that I did a few years ago while traveling in India.

Now, I'm not a high-maintenance type of gal when it comes to beauty and hair routines.  Our dry, desert air in Utah allows me to just wash-and-go most of the time.  But in India it's a different story.  The humidity makes my hair frizz up like a toilet brush , and my usual hair routine just doesn't cut it.  I spent two different trips (and my wedding there!) walking around with crazy poofball hair, so when I was planning my third trip I was bound and determined to do something different, especially since I knew we were spending a week at the beach in Goa.

Poolside at our hotel in Goa--Villa Bomfim

So I went to my local beauty supply store and bought a flatiron.  Then, realizing that the flatiron's plug wouldn't fit India's outlets, I bought a power converter with adaptor plugs. I read all the instructions and was ready for sleek, smooth hair.

The adaptor/converter worked well for charging my mp3 player during our first couple of days in India, but I hadn't had time try try out the flatiron since we embarked on our crazy road trip.

Fast-forward to our first day in Goa.  Ponytails were getting old, so I plugged in the adaptor/converter, switched it to LOW, plugged the flatiron into it, and waited for it to heat up.  Suddenly I heard a loud POP and noticed smoke coming from the converter.  Yikes!  I grabbed the flatiron to unplug it, but it was too late.  Its metal plates were hanging off, the glue completely melted.  Both the converter and flatiron were completely unusable for the rest of the trip...my sleek hair just wasn't meant to be!

Adaptor plugs and converter, post-frying.  Notice the warping.  I'm glad I didn't start a fire!!!

Some tips:

1.  Decide whether you will need an adaptor plug and converter at your destination.  If you are in the U.S. or Canada (which have 110-120v AC) and are traveling overseas (where most countries have 220-240v AC), you most likely will need an adaptor/converter.  See this site for more info on specific countries you'll be visiting.

2.  Look at your appliance (flatiron, hairdryer, electric shaver, etc.) to see what the power "rating" is.  My flatiron says 110-120v AC, so I knew that I would need to use both the adaptor plug (so it would fit in India's outlets) AND the converter (since the flatiron was only rated for 110-120v, not India's 220-240v power).  Some appliances are "universal," meaning that you can just use the adaptor plug without converting the power.

 3.  Read the adaptor/converter's instructions THOROUGHLY.  Had I done this, I would have known that the LOW setting was only appropriate for small, low current appliances, such as battery chargers or electric shavers, and that I should have used the HIGH setting.  Check out this guide for more good tips.

4.  Don't take expensive appliances!  I should have just packed a cheaper flatiron from the drugstore instead of frying my $100 one.

Have your ever used items that needed a converter while traveling?  And were you more successful than me at doing so? Please share!  :-)

Check out Travel Tip Tuesday at Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels for more unique travel tips!