I need advice on using a hair dryer in Europe

bac717July 17, 2014

Since there seems to be a number of posters here who do a fair amount of traveling abroad, I am hoping to find some advice on using a hair dryer in Europe. A few years ago, we were in Italy. I brought my own hair dryer and used it with a converter and an adapter plug, but it still was not as powerful on high as it is here at home and it didn't sound right either. I tried to use it for as short a time as possible. We are headed back to Europe, specifically Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This time, I am thinking about either 1) buying a hair dryer here that is dual voltage (altho I'm reading a lot on line that that type still doesn't work as well there as here) or 2) buying a hair dryer there that only works there and having it for future travel.

So, after that long explanation, does anyone have an advice for me on using a hair dryer in Europe? I'm hoping to find one that is fairly powerful. I find that many of the dryers provided in hotels are not powerful enough for me, so I generally bring my own dryer with when we travel. Thanks for your help.

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Most hair dryers currently sold are dual voltage. You just have to turn a dial.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:12PM
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I have had the same problem. I gave up, use the hotels' dryers and have bad hair. (Note to Europe: I'm much more attractive stateside. : )

Buying one there is probably the best option if you want to be sure it's powerful. When in use my own w an adapter it is so wimpy.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:27PM
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I agree. I wound up buying one when we were in Italy. We were just lucky in finding a store that had them while wandering around. It worked much better than the one I brought.

That said, due to the weather, (lots of rain in Rome) I pony tailed it for most of the trip. However, the hair dryer came in handy for the evening dinners, so I was able to look more like myself, at least for a couple of hours.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:01PM
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Option 2 without a doubt - buy one when you arrive. Just don't arrive on a Sunday. European voltage is different and those made for the local markets perform better.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:04PM
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Hmm .... take a solar recharging briefcase with you?

The outsides of the briefcase hold the solar panels ... you just open the case or leave it in the sun to charge up the batteries held inside ... all the electronics inside ensure that your batteries don't overcharge or overheat.

You'll want an inverter inside the case as well to handle changing the DC power from the batteries to standard 120 volts 60 Hz for your hair dryer to be happy.

If there's still room in the briefcase, put your hairdryer and other essentials in! (like your phone charger and your hubby's electric shaver, ect...)

nice side benefit ... if you end up on a desert island with your solar briefcase, you'll still be able to look your best and keep your phone charged!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:08PM
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Besides the plug shape differences, easily handled by buying the cheap plug adaptors (not converters) from Amazon or elsewhere, understand the two differences:

1) US electricity is 110 volt - European is 230-240 volt. A dual voltage unit will handle the difference. Actually, double the voltage produces double the "power", appliances that produce heat can get hotter and hotter faster using 230 instead of 110.

2) US electricity is 60 cycles per second, European is 50. The number of cycles affect the speed of a turning motor, so your dual voltage hair dryer when plugged in in Europe will only turn 50/60 the speed it turns when in the US. Translation - it won't blow as hard.

The simple way to handle this is to buy one there or stay in nicer hotels (so as to have dryers in the room).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:15PM
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I've used a travel dryer with dual voltage and a plug adapter successfully. I bought mine at Target. I also have dual voltage straightener and curling iron, though I don't always bring all of them when I travel.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:17PM
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Use the one in the hotel, accept the fact that your hair probably won't look like you want it to look, buy one over there if you must and leave yours at home. It's not worth potentially ruining your own good hair dryer. I don't use curling irons, etc, but a friend bought a straightener in England to use there. I came pretty close to buying a hair dryer and then the hotels started providing a better one so I didn't. Snidely explained it perfectly.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:36PM
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Thank you for all the replies. I knew I would get some great advice here.

blfenton - my friend who was traveling with us didn't have much luck with her dual voltage hair dryer.

mtnrdredux - yes, that's how I'd describe my hair dryer in Europe - wimpy.

ellendi - glad to hear the one you purchased there worked much better.

jmc01 - I am definitely leaning toward buying one there.

Skie - Interesting suggestion. I've never heard of a solar recharging briefcase and anyway, I'm trying to travel as light as possible.

snidley - great explanation, especially that part about why the dual voltage hair dryer won't blow as hard.

terriks - would you mind sharing the brand of dryer you had success with?

outside - you are right about ruining my own good hair dryer. If that happens, then I'm really in a bind.

After reading all these responses, I am seriously considering buying a hair dryer in Germany. We will be on a 2 week long Rick Steves tour, visiting about 6 different cities, so I think it will be hit or miss as far as finding a good hair dryer in each hotel. On our last trip, it was so funny that the hot topic of conversation with the women at breakfast after the first night in our first hotel was hair dryers - everyone had problems!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:35PM
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Please check in after you've returned from your trip. I'm very interested in hearing how you liked the Rick Steves tour. My SIL recently asked if I knew anyone who had gone on one - but I couldn't help. She's hoping to plan a trip to Italy as a special celebration for my brother's birthday.

I hope you have a great trip ....and hair to match.

My son and I went to Ireland a few years ago and I swear he purposely took photos when my hair was damp from the mist or blowing in my face or standing straight up in the wind.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:34PM
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Last year we stayed in a variety of accommodations over 2 weeks in Switzerland and Austria, including smaller hotels, apartments, and with friends. We did not stay at a B&B, though, and on a Rick Steves tour, I imagine you don't know what you might get. I had bought a dual voltage travel dryer at Target, and didn't need it. Everywhere had blow dryers! I guess I'm glad I had it just in case, though, and I can still use it at home. I don't, though, because I like a dryer with 3 speeds, and most, including every one I've ever used in a hotel in US or abroad, has only 2. The high speed nearly blows my fine hair to kingdom come!

My comment about Rick Steves, by the way, is just that on his shows he stays in a wide range of accommodations, really wonderful, but because they are so diffferent you might not know what you'll get. In most ways that is exactly why we travel, but for our hair? Well, we gotta treat it as it wants to be treated. I loved visiting my folks in AZ, but with their water softener my hair was always flat, even in the dry air. I would love to go on a Rick Steves tour. Let us know how it goes?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:43PM
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maire and bp - This will be our 2nd Rick Steves tour. Our trip to Italy was our 1st and was a fabulous experience. I can't say enough positive things about the tour. Small group (ours was only 19 people. Generally there are 24-28 in a group which is still relatively small.) with a really GREAT guide. We stayed right in the heart of each city (Venice, Florence and Rome) we were in and could walk everywhere. The day was a combination of scheduled tours and free time to do whatever we wanted to do. Lots of suggestions from our guide for that. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

This post was edited by bac717 on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 9:17

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:13AM
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I bought small cheap Boots hairdryer years ago in England that works pretty well. The voltage is the same as many other countries but you will need an adapter plug as the plug-ins are different. Assuming you have an adapter kit already I would wait until you get where you are going and then buy a hair dryer.
Who has good hair on vacation? Hair products you use at home often do not jive with the vacation spot climate. There is nothing worse than having goo on your head AND bad hair. I wish I could remember the name of the hair treatment I got at my salon before I left for my vacation. It was something that lasts up to eight months and was pricey, totally eliminates fizzes, makes your hair shine like there is no tomorrow, protects your color and basically allows you to go somewhat all naturel on the hair fixing process. The treatment changed the texture feel of my hair in a good wayâ¦what was it called??? Think think think!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Wacky OT story about modifying hair for travel: I was heading for a Yorkshire walking tour, and to head off the inevitable flat hair the wind and rain would bring, I got a perm and carried no blow dryer or curling iron! Woo hoo! Freedom!

Well, on the way home it got interesting. This was a year after the jet was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland. I was flying home through Glasgow. At Security, I tripped all the triggers for interrogation:
...I'd paid cash for my ticket,
...I traveled alone,
...I'd stayed in a village no one knew (and I didn't understand the village-town system enough to explain where I'd been),
...I was traveling through Glasgow instead of the closer Manchester (our newspaper had run a series on great train rides, and a Yorkshire line ending at the border was one, so of course I had to take advantage),
...I had no blow dryer or curling iron, apparently unlike most women, and
...with my perm I looked very little like my passport photo.
The security guy couldn't wrap his head around any of my explanations, nor could his supervisor. They rifled through my suitcase that was going to be checked (remember, the Pan Am was exploded by a bomb in checked luggage), questioned, examined, and took the battery out of my $5 Target travel clock, even asked me about the other walkers on the trip!

They finally let me through. To walk through an UNSECURED area of the airport to get to my gate. Crazy.

And all for my vanity!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:48AM
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Places to look for hair dryers - if you have some time when you first get to the airport, try to find a place that looks like one of our drugstores. Or maybe a 'duty-free' type store. If the airport doesn't have one (I can't imagine Frankfurt or one of the larger German airports not having one), you can probably find a chain-type drug store once you check in to your hotel. If not try a department store. Ask the concierge in the hotel if you have to.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:49AM
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I never had much luck using any hair dryer purchased in the US overseas. I blew up the electrical in a hotel once even with a dual voltage device and a converter. I've used the ones in hotels but I finally just bought one when I was over there that I use only for travel. It wasn't very expensive and well worth it to avoid the hassle.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:07AM
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My hair dryer is made by Revlon. I also used a borrowed travel hair dryer successfully while staying in hostels in Sweden and Denmark.

Here is a link that might be useful: Revlon dryer on Amazon

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Thanks again for all the advice. It's good to know I am not alone in the quest for a good hair dryer to use while traveling in Europe.

jterrilynn - we do have the adapters for our last trip. I think I know the hair treatment you are talking about, but I can't think of the name of it either.

bpathome - funny story.

outside - we are flying into Frankfort, so I'll take a look at the airport there for the duty free store. I'm sure my DH will be happier if I find a hair dryer to buy right away, so it doesn't consume the first part of our trip!

gibby - your story just confirms my decision to buy a hair dryer while we are there.

terriks - thanks for the link to your hair dryer.

I'll report back on the trip and the hair dryer quest after we return, but we don't leave until the end of next month, so it will be awhile before I do that. Thanks again for all the replies! Now, to figure out what to pack!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:59AM
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The treatment that jterrilynn is referring goes by several names, such as Brazilian Blowout and keratin hair straightening.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 6:31PM
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Terriks, thatâÂÂs it! It was a keratin treatment. I didnâÂÂt get it for straightening reasons though because my hair is already pin straight although I do have a small area near my sides that seem to frizz a tiny bit. I have American Indian hair or Asian type hair where the individual strands are thick and nearly impossible to style into something. The treatment changed the feel and manageability. It also made my hair look very healthy. Healthy hair made me feel I looked younger. I probably will not keep it up though as it seems such an extravagance. I will have the treatments before big trips because it makes my hair good to go.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:22PM
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I read that there is a cordless hair dryer that only needs to be charged. There's only one model in the world

Here is a link that might be useful: This is the article about cordless hair dryers

    Bookmark   October 20, 2014 at 2:39PM
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I just saw this thread pop back up, so I thought I should report back. I ended up buying a hair dryer in Germany at Rossmann (a drugstore like Walgreens) for 11.99 (euro) that works great. It has 3 heat settings and 3 speeds and even came with an air concentrator (the part that attaches to the barrel). It's a full size dryer, but is a bit smaller than the one I use at home. It works just as well as my dryer at home, so I'm pleased and all ready for our next trip!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2014 at 7:36PM
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