How to Travel with Your Mobility Scooter

man assembling scooter outside of car

Can you charge your mobility scooter in another country?

A practical guide to device management abroad

The bellhop swipes the key card and you and your travel partner tumble into your Parisian suite overlooking the River Seine. The open window lets in a cool summer breeze and noise from the streets below. It’s everything you dreamed it would be.

Aboard your Go-Go Sport 4-Wheel mobility scooter, you zip past the bellhop and size up the bed. Nap first, then dinner, then a self-guided twilight tour around Paris.

You skip unpacking, kick off your shoes and head for the pillow. But wait! After that marathon, your travel scooter is running low on power. Better top off now so you can have enough to get around the city later.

After more than a year of COVID-19 complacency, you’re finally taking the trip you had to postpone, and you’re not wasting a single second.

You dig out the charger and reach for the wall outlet, only to find two dark circles staring back at you. It’s almost like they’re mocking you. For the trip of a lifetime, one you planned out to the last exhausting detail, you forgot a power adapter.

The solution is simple, and since you’re staying in a fine French hotel, the concierge may even have an adapter you can borrow. If nothing else, he can tell you where to find one.

But you’ve heard other countries do electricity differently, and you’ve got some questions about plugging your high-tech batteries into a foreign electrical grid. Is it safe? Should you leave your scooter plugged in for the same amount of time as in the United States? When is charging your device in another country dangerous?

In short, yes, it’s safe, provided you follow the rules and use the correct equipment. The good news is, most modern technology takes out the guesswork for you.

How are power grids in other countries different?

Wouldn’t it be great if we all just used the same voltage and the same shape plugs?

Unfortunately, the world’s power grids are a fruit salad of voltages and frequencies. Most countries, especially European ones, provide 230 volts of electricity at the outlet. That’s nearly double the voltage here in the United States. To understand voltage, think about water moving through a pipe. Voltage is the pressure at which it moves. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it helps us understand that when you plug in a device built for the U.S. grid that’s rated for 120 volts (lower pressure, if we’re using the water analogy) and it’s important to take note of.

Fortunately, charging units for most devices, regardless of how their plugs are formed, come rated for a broad range of voltages – usually 100 volts to 240 volts . Your mobile phone, tablet and laptop almost certainly all have them. Even your electric shaver or hair dryer might have them built in (check those first before plugging them into a power adapter).

The concern comes if you were to plug in some simple device, for example, a table lamp, which probably isn’t rated for dual voltages.

What’s the difference between a power adapter and power converter?

Should you feel inclined to bring a table lamp along, you’ll want to have a power converter. It literally changes the flow of electricity, making it safe for lower-rated appliances. They cost just a few dollars more than power adapters, so if you’re unsure about some devices in your luggage, you might want to grab a converter.

For most people, however, a simple power adapter is enough.

A power adapter does nothing to the current or voltage, rather it just makes your U.S. plug fit outlets in other countries. Any American traveler who goes beyond the U.S. and Canadian borders should grab one of these.

The New York Times’ Wirecutter blog and others recommends the Epicka Universal Travel Adapter for its versatility and extra USB-A and USB-C charging ports. It’s $20.99 on Amazon.

All Pride Mobility chargers are rated for international voltage standards

So what does all this mean for your Pride Mobility charging device?

Well, like your cell phone or laptop, your scooter battery charger is rated for 100 volts to 240 volts. So you can plug in with confidence that you’re using the right equipment.

Proceed to charge up as you normally would at home. That means, after a full day of use, you want to let your battery charge for at least eight to 14 hours.

Back in your Parisian suite, you and your travel partner are snoozing comfortably on a bed, dreaming about croissants.

As it turns out, the hotel gift shop had power adapters for twice as many euros than you would have spent on Amazon. Forgetfulness comes with hidden costs, after all.

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