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Trip to USA - some basic questions Watch

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    Its been a while since I have been away, so have accumulated a few questions.

    1. I bought an adaptor plug so my UK power adapters fit into a USA style plug socket. However, are there going to be any issues since they use a different voltage out there? I am worried I might blow my tablet, S5 etc.

    2. If going to the USA, what should I do about my phone SIM? My understanding is that calls out there using a UK SIM cost a fortune or am I wrong? What if someone sends me a text from the UK or I send one back? Is that expensive?

    3. My phone and tablet have "airplane mode". Do the airlines allow you to run it in that mode? Do they allow you to run them with that mode switched off?

    4. Should I tell my bank I am going to the USA so they don't block my credit card purchases out there, or is that unnecessary?

    5. Where is the best place to exchange £ for $?
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    1. Nope. Might affect the time it takes to charge things, but that's it.

    2. Check your network, but most likely, yes, will cost a fortune. If you can limit yourself to wifi only, then you're fine (just turn all other data/roaming off). If you really need 3g, then you'll need to unlock your phone and get a sim in the US. But be warned, their packages are insanely expensive.

    3. Yes they do, but they'll still likely ask for you to put them away during take off and landing.

    4. Always better to do than not do, but won't necessarily guarantee anything.

    5. Varies on a day-to-day basis.
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    1.
    Won't affect time to charge. The voltage is rectified and converted to DC using a buck converter. It will just draw twice as much current due to half as much voltage.

    Most transformers/adapters should be fine. You can look at the label on the transformers, and make sure the input voltage range includes 120V/60 Hz.

    For things that don't go through transformers, like hair dryers (most common example), or older transformers, they may not be able to use 120V. Check the labels.

    2.
    Using a UK SIM will cost a fortune. Depending on how long you are staying, I usually use T-Mobile (yes, they are in the US, too) Prepaid. It's $2 per day for unlimited talk + text + 2G data. $3 per day for the same + 3G data (2G speed after 5GB per 24 hour).

    If you stay for longer there are cheaper options.

    3.
    Yes. That's what the mode is for. If you don't use it your battery will drain really fast because it won't be able to find a signal in air.

    4.
    Yes. Always call the bank before international travel. They will just ask for dates.

    5.
    For small amounts, credit cards are actually reasonably good. They charge the actual exchange rate + 2.5%, which is about the best you can get. For larger amounts you'll have to shop around.
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    (Original post by ihavemooedtoday)
    1.
    Won't affect time to charge. The voltage is rectified and converted to DC using a buck converter. It will just draw twice as much current due to half as much voltage.

    Most transformers/adapters should be fine. You can look at the label on the transformers, and make sure the input voltage range includes 120V/60 Hz.

    For things that don't go through transformers, like hair dryers (most common example), or older transformers, they may not be able to use 120V. Check the labels.

    2.
    Using a UK SIM will cost a fortune. Depending on how long you are staying, I usually use T-Mobile (yes, they are in the US, too) Prepaid. It's $2 per day for unlimited talk + text + 2G data. $3 per day for the same + 3G data (2G speed after 5GB per 24 hour).

    If you stay for longer there are cheaper options.

    3.
    Yes. That's what the mode is for. If you don't use it your battery will drain really fast because it won't be able to find a signal in air.

    4.
    Yes. Always call the bank before international travel. They will just ask for dates.

    5.
    For small amounts, credit cards are actually reasonably good. They charge the actual exchange rate + 2.5%, which is about the best you can get. For larger amounts you'll have to shop around.
    It won't draw that much current, they limit it
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    (Original post by hexagonalRod)
    It won't draw that much current, they limit it
    Yes there are multiple levels of current limiting. And yes, they will draw twice as much current by design.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyback_converter
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    (Original post by ihavemooedtoday)
    Yes there are multiple levels of current limiting. And yes, they will draw twice as much current by design.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyback_converter
    Sorry, I read it in an Engineering blog. The guy clearly didn't know he was talking about, I suppose. You an electronic Engineer?
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      (Original post by Jon12345)
      Its been a while since I have been away, so have accumulated a few questions.

      1. I bought an adaptor plug so my UK power adapters fit into a USA style plug socket. However, are there going to be any issues since they use a different voltage out there? I am worried I might blow my tablet, S5 etc.

      2. If going to the USA, what should I do about my phone SIM? My understanding is that calls out there using a UK SIM cost a fortune or am I wrong? What if someone sends me a text from the UK or I send one back? Is that expensive?

      3. My phone and tablet have "airplane mode". Do the airlines allow you to run it in that mode? Do they allow you to run them with that mode switched off?

      4. Should I tell my bank I am going to the USA so they don't block my credit card purchases out there, or is that unnecessary?

      5. Where is the best place to exchange £ for $?
      1. Laptops and phones will be fine, just plug in the adapter and away you go.

      2. Unlock your phone, get a T-Mobile USA and pick the $3/day PAYG or $40/mo 500MB 4G data with unlimited calls and text, depends on which is cheaper for the duration of your stay.

      3. Your phone now must be able to switch on at boarding to the US now, airplane mode is fine and you can use it in airplane mode too

      4. Yes, always take a backup card just in case.

      5. Fee free Halifax Clarity is the best but any currency exchange will do.

      Hope this helps in some way
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      (Original post by hexagonalRod)
      Sorry, I read it in an Engineering blog. The guy clearly didn't know he was talking about, I suppose. You an electronic Engineer?
      I am .
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      (Original post by ihavemooedtoday)
      I am .
      That's awesome, I aspire to be one
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      (Original post by hexagonalRod)
      That's awesome, I aspire to be one
      Good luck. It's a lot of fun .
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      (Original post by ihavemooedtoday)
      Good luck. It's a lot of fun .
      I've heard about how hard it is too!
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      My tuppence on it:

      (Original post by Jon12345)
      Its been a while since I have been away, so have accumulated a few questions.

      1. I bought an adaptor plug so my UK power adapters fit into a USA style plug socket. However, are there going to be any issues since they use a different voltage out there? I am worried I might blow my tablet, S5 etc. UK to US adaptor plugs are usually unearthed so there's a small damage risk if you use a device that needs an earthing pin. Most portable electronics including phone chargers don't. Laptops do, but they're on the low end of the voltage/current scale for stuff that needs earthing. As the voltage is indeed different, you might notice your stuff charges slower, but that's about it.

      2. If going to the USA, what should I do about my phone SIM? My understanding is that calls out there using a UK SIM cost a fortune or am I wrong? What if someone sends me a text from the UK or I send one back? Is that expensive? Keep your UK SIM if you're not going long. Calls will indeed be rather dear. Reading texts is free but on O2 to name my network a US-UK text is 40p. Don't touch mobile data unless you want your bill to spiral. Waiting for wifi to be available is a much better option.

      3. My phone and tablet have "airplane mode". Do the airlines allow you to run it in that mode? Do they allow you to run them with that mode switched off? 1) Yes and 2) no. They'll usually tell you to keep them off for taxi, take-off and landing so engage the flight mode before the plane departs.

      4. Should I tell my bank I am going to the USA so they don't block my credit card purchases out there, or is that unnecessary? Will be useful, especially if you want to make big purchases or withdraw lots of cash, but taking out $100 at a time is unlikely to be a problem.

      5. Where is the best place to exchange £ for $? I would recommend Thomas Exchange if you're in or near London. Best rates I've ever seen.
     
     
     
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