If you travel frequently, a portable router is a worthwhile investment — and the best travel routers allow you to stay connected to reliable wireless internet wherever you are and without compromising on security. When shopping for a travel router, you’ll want to choose a model that’s small enough to pack in your bag. They will also come in a range of prices to suit your budget.
What criteria to consider when shopping for the best travel routers
Speed & connectivity
When selecting a travel router, speed and ease of connecting to the internet are important, and there are several factors that will affect its performance.
- First, choose one that supports current Wi-Fi standards, such as 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) or 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), that have been established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). If you’re shopping on Amazon, you’ll find that most travel routers that have been widely rated and reviewed support the latter.
- You’ll also want to pay attention to the router’s data transfer rate, which is usually listed in megabits per second (Mbps). A router that operates anywhere from 50 or 100 Mbps is sufficient for streaming videos in 4K or online gaming; however, if you’ll be using the internet heavily for work and leisure, you might want to opt for one with a Mbps of at least 100 Mbps.
- You’ll also want to shop for a router that supports 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) and 5 GHz bands. This will offer a faster speed and increased bandwidth to support multiple devices while minimizing lag.
- The option of being able to connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable can also come in handy when a wireless connection won’t cut it — you might want to look for a router that has at least one Ethernet port to plug directly into your devices.
When you’re traveling, you might use a public network to connect to the internet, and if you want to keep your sensitive information private, a router with WPA3 or WPA2 encryption is a good option. As an alternative, you can also opt for a router that supports VPN services. (Another option is to use a mobile hotspot device instead of a router so you can access the internet using your cell service instead of a public network.)
Portability and compatibility
Finally, you probably want to opt for a router that has small enough dimensions to comfortably stow in your luggage. These picks are also powered by a USB-A or USB-C port, so you can plug them into your device or a travel-friendly adapter to keep them running while you’re traveling, whether out of state or overseas.
Shop for the best travel routers
In a hurry? These are the best travel routers you can find on Amazon:
- The overall best travel router: GL.iNet GL-MT1300 Wireless Router
- The runner-up: GL.iNet GL-AR750 Travel AC VPN Router
- The budget-friendly option: TP-Link Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router
- Also great: A mobile hotspot for travel: NETGEAR Nighthawk 4G LTE WiFi Mobile Hotspot
With all this in mind, you’ll find four of the best routers for taking with you wherever you might head.
1. The overall best travel router
With a 4.5-star overall rating after more than 1,700 reviews, this travel-friendly router is a well-tested option. It can support up to 40 wireless devices at once, plus runs at speeds of up to 400 Mbps on a 2.4 GHz connection and up to 867 Mbps on a 5 GHz connection. It comes with three Ethernet ports so you can directly connect multiple devices to the unit. It offers WPA3 encryption, plus it’s compatible with more than 30 VPN providers to help keep your information private. Just keep in mind that using a VPN service may come at an additional cost. The router comes with a USB-C-compatible power adapter and an Ethernet cable.
Positive Amazon review: “This product was purchased to serve as a travel router for my RV. I shopped around extensively, reading multiple reviews and specifications. In short, I am extremely pleased with the product, especially with the OpenWRT-based software. Easy plug ‘n’ play, but also highly configurable. The USB2.0 port is a bit weak for powering an external hard drive, but that is to be expected (no issues with flash or NAND drives). The compact size, configurability, and price point make this a great choice.”
Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac | Bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz | Data transfer rate: Up to 867 Mbps | Ethernet connection: Yes (1 WAN and 2 LAN ports) | Security: WPA3 | Size: 4.6 x 3.3 x 1.2 inches (length x width x height)
Also available on: Walmart, $72
2. The runner-up
Like the previous option, this travel router has three Ethernet ports to connect your devices, in addition to a USB-A port to keep it powered up. It supports WPA2 encryption and has pre-installed OpenVPN, and it supports over 30 other VPN service providers. The main contrast to the above option is that it has a lower data transfer rate, which maxes out at 300 Mbps at 2.5 GHz and 433 Mbps at 5 GHz. But on the plus side, the router comes with a USB cable and power adapter, plus an Ethernet cable, so you can use it straight out of the box.
Positive Amazon review: “I travel all over the world and at the majority of accommodations I’m forced to use the room computer cable for internet. I need Wi-Fi for my phone, tablet & laptop… and this travel router worked great. Easy setup and has yet to fail me. Great product.”
Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac | Bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz | Data transfer rate: Up to 433 Mbps | Ethernet connection: Yes (1 WAN and 2 LAN) | Security: WPA2 | Size: 3.5 x 2.7 x 0.9 inches (length x width x height)
Also available on: Walmart, $45
3. The budget-friendly option
Those looking for a budget-friendly but quality option might appreciate this wireless travel router. The dual-band unit supports speeds of up to 300 Mbps on 2.4 GHz and 433 Mbps on 5 GHz bands. It is WPA2 encrypted, so you can securely surf the web on a public Wi-Fi network. Like the previous option, it is powered via a micro-USB source and includes a power adapter to plug into a power outlet — but it only has one Ethernet connection, so you can only connect one device at a time using the included Ethernet cable.
Positive Amazon review: “This worked perfectly for me while traveling and staying in hotels. I followed the very simple instructions they provide and I was connected within minutes. I used this to secure my connection to the public Wi-Fi within a hotel. It also extended my coverage for my phone which was needed because I could not connect to T-mobile within the hotel room.”
Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac | Bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz | Data transfer rate: Up to 433 Mbps | Ethernet connection: Yes (1 WAN/LAN port) | Security: WPA2 | Size: 2.6 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches (length x width x height)
Also available on: Walmart, $42
Also great: A mobile hotspot for travel
If you want a mobile hotspot, this is a prime choice. It’s compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, and can provide up to 13 hours of use before it needs to be charged. The device has one Ethernet port, so you can connect your device directly to it, plus a USB-C port for charging it between uses (a USB-C cable and AC adapter are included) — as well as other compatible devices that might be in need of some juice. Whether operating on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, it runs at up to 150 Mbps, which is lower than other options on this list, but it should still be sufficient for surfing the internet and streaming videos in 4K. Keep in mind that it is a splurge, but several Amazon reviewers who travel frequently have reported that it’s well worth the cost.
Positive Amazon review: “I travel with the family from the US to our home in Croatia every other year. Instead of tethering my iPhone this time, I opted to get a dedicated hotspot. This thing is amazing. Works with both A1 and Hrvatski Telekom SIM cards without issue. (You do have to make a phone call to activate these cards from a secondary phone, then insert the sim into the hotspot, however this may be with only these providers). I can stream both from my FireTv in HD as well as Google Music while surfing the internet. This all on multiple devices at the same time. All this whilst in a stone home over 100 years old. Also took this thing on a sailboat while traveling from Split to Hvar and Brać. No issues. Must have for travelers who travel for extended periods AND do not want to set up year long internet service.”
Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac | Bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz | Data transfer rate: Up to 150 Mbps | Ethernet connection: Yes (LAN port) | Security: N/A (uses cell network) | Size: 4.15 x 4.15 x 0.8 inches (length x width x height)
About the recommender
Danielle Calma is a commerce writer who researches and recommends products for shoppers, and she has covered topics related to tech and gadgets for publications including Inverse, Bustle, and Elite Daily.