Finding safe and reliable public Wi-Fi can be challenging, and constantly purchasing new SIM cards with hotspot capabilities can get very costly. If you’re a seasoned traveler, you know that even the best hotels and Airbnbs are often plagued by spotty overcrowded Wi-Fi networks. For these reasons, investing in a good portable router is one of the most cost-effective ways to stay connected on the road. Read on to learn everything you need to know about travel routers, and browse a list of our top picks.
Quick Answer: Best Travel Routers
- Best Overall: GL.iNet GL-AXT1800 (Slate AX)
- Close Second: GL.iNet GL-MT1300 (Beryl)
- Best LTE: Netgear Nighthawk M1
- Best Budget: GL.iNet GL-MT300N-V2 (Mango)
- TP-Link AC750
- Ravpower FileHub AC750
What to Look for in a Wireless Travel Router
When looking for the perfect portable router for travel, you’ll definitely want to consider the size of the device. These increasingly popular travel accessories come in a large range of sizes, some that are even small enough to slip into your purse or pocket. Although the super-sleek and simple routers may be enticing, you might need to opt for a slightly larger device if you’re in need of serious speed, exceptional connectivity, and advanced features.
Travel routers also vary between single-band and dual-band versions, meaning that they work on only the 2.4 GHz radio frequency or both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. Smaller and less expensive routers will typically come with single-band connection, which can limit Wi-Fi speeds.
One of the main benefits of traveling with a portable router is that they allow you to convert public connections to private Wi-Fi networks. All of the routers on this list also support the WPA2 security standard, and most feature built-in VPN support and network security software to further protect your personal devices.
4. Hotspot Capability
Some travel routers also boast LTE capabilities and function as portable hotspots with the addition of a SIM card and data plan from your mobile provider. This can be very useful since
routers have their own batteries and can typically connect to far more devices than your smartphone.
5. Extender Capability
Many travel routers also double as range extenders to improve any available Wi-Fi coverage. This is extremely helpful for hotel Wi-Fi networks and other public connections that technically connect but are too weak or too slow to get the job done.
6. Advanced Specs
Travel routers boast a varied range of Wi-Fi speeds and can connect to a varying number of devices simultaneously, ranging from two or three to over 100. Some portable routers also function as portable file servers and come with varying degrees of storage space, a feature that can come in handy for remote workers looking to free up space on their mobile devices. Of course, the more expensive travel routers will generally offer the most impressive specs, but depending on your intended usage, you may find that a simpler model fully satisfies your connectivity and storage needs.
Best Travel Router Reviews
Now that you know what to look for, here is a list of the best portable Wi-Fi routers for travel.
Best Overall Travel Router
Kicking off our list is a top-rated travel Wi-Fi router that we consider to be the best on the market today. Boasting Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, this high-tech dual-band router can connect to up to 120 devices simultaneously and offers a faster and more secure connection than its competitors. The Slate AX router also offers a long list of advanced wireless features, including a dual-band Wi-Fi speed of 1800 Mbps, easy file sharing, built-in ad filtering and network security software, and a repeater to convert a public Wi-Fi network into a private one. The preinstalled OpenVPN client also makes this device compatible with over 30 different VPN providers. Measuring just five inches wide and weighing in at 8.5 ounces, this convenient router combines a powerful connection and impressive performance with a portable design. On the front panel of the router, you’ll find a USB-C power port, a USB-3 port, one WAN port, and two LAN ports.
Second Best Travel Router
Another wireless travel router from GL.iNet with an affordable price tag, this pocket-sized device is a great budget-friendly alternative to the Slate AX. Although the specs on this router are not as extensive as its more expensive counterpart, it still offers a slew of impressive features that are likely to fully satisfy the connectivity needs of most users. The Beryl Router can simultaneously connect to up to 40 wireless devices, and users can take advantage of impressive dual-band Wi-Fi speeds reaching up to 867 Mbps. With 256 MB of storage space and OpenVPN and WireGuard preinstalled, the device offers a competitive amount of storage space, security, and versatility. Physical features include three ethernet ports, a USB port, and a power port, as well as two antennas that fold down for convenience and portability.
Best LTE Travel Router
For a reliable portable router that doubles as a convenient mobile hotspot, consider the Netgear Nighthawk M1 Wi-Fi Router. This compact dual-band device comes unlocked and can be used with all major cellular providers but works best with AT&T and T-Mobile data plans. To use, simply purchase a micro SIM card and a data plan from your provider, insert the SIM card into the device, and take your fast and secure wireless connection with you wherever you go. Although this model comes with a slightly higher price tag than most, it boasts an impressive 5,040mAh battery that can last up to 24 hours, and it is consistently regarded as one of the best routers for travel with LTE hotspot capabilities. It also features a USB-A, a USB-C, and an ethernet port, and can double as a convenient portable charger for your mobile devices. Up to 20 devices can connect to the Nighthawk router simultaneously, and the sleek and portable design makes it the perfect candidate for throwing in your purse or backpack.
Best Budget Travel Router
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, this pocket-friendly travel router sells for just over $30 and comes with all of the essential ports and features. Offering 128MB RAM and 16MB Flash ROM, the small but powerful device boasts a large storage capacity. On the sides of the router, you’ll find one WAN and one LAN ethernet port, a power port, and a USB port. This sleek minirouter also comes with OpenVPN client installed, making it automatically compatible with over 30 VPN providers. A USB cable and an ethernet cable are included with the router, and GL.iNet offers a generous one-year warranty, making this both an affordable and low-risk option. It is important to note that this router supports 2.4 GHz connections only and does not identify 5 GHz networks.
Best of the Rest
This sleek portable router instantly converts any public wireless network to private and boasts an impressive 300 Mbps Wi-Fi speed on 2.4 GHz band and up to 433 Mbps on 5GHz. The router also functions as a personal cloud that can store photos and videos and allows you to easily and wirelessly transfer data and large files between SD cards, flash drives, and external hard drives, and your mobile devices. Users can also connect up to five devices to this router simultaneously, making this a great choice for digital nomads, photographers, avid social media users, or anyone traveling with multiple devices and a surplus of important data.
Wrapping up our list is a budget-friendly option with a sleek and portable design, an affordable price tag, and high-tech features that make it one of the best routers for travel currently on the market. This impressive device is super small and lightweight, making it the perfect choice for those in need of a pocket-friendly option that they can bring anywhere. The dual-band Wi-Fi is strong and fast and works perfectly with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz devices, including Chromecast adapters and Amazon Fire Sticks. There is also a convenient USB port for charging and file sharing, and TP-link offers customers a two-year warranty and unlimited tech support.
Whether you’re operating as a digital nomad or you’re just looking for an affordable and reliable way to stay connected while traveling, you won’t regret opting for one of these top wireless travel routers.