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If you’re a frequent traveller who needs to stay connected, then you’ll want to get one of the best wireless travel routers. Whether it’s hopping between hotels on business trips, or simply ensuring you have your own bubble of Wi-Fi to take with you on vacation, a good travel router can keep you connected both securely and privately regardless of what’s available in hotels, airports, or busy conference centers.
The best travel routers are designed to be extremely portable, can be plugged in just about anywhere, or even run from battery, and often provide additional features like the ability to serve up media files, recharge your mobile devices, and secure your internet traffic with a VPN, all of which can be a big advantage over relying on the relatively insecure open Wi-Fi hotspots found in hotels and coffee shops. In most cases, you won’t need a lot of range or even speed in a travel router, since it only needs to handle one or two nearby devices. This allows them to be smaller and in some cases even pocketable, so they’re easy to set up just about anywhere.
Although a lot of inexpensive travel routers simply plug into a wired connection in a hotel or boardroom much like your router at home, some can extend an existing public Wi-Fi network for extra security, or even act as a mobile hotspot to provide high-speed LTE data access from just about anywhere you happen to be.
Built-in SD card slot
Doubles as a battery pack
Confusing set up
Slow file transfers
Essentially a 3-in-1 travel gadget, the Ravpower Filehub doubles as a media streamer capable of reading an SD card and external hard drives up to four terabytes in size, while also functioning as a personalized wireless router that connects directly to an Ethernet cable inside a hotel. As its final trick, the Filehub can also be used as a battery pack to provide a couple of emergency charges to your smartphone. An SD slot allows for accessing photos and videos, as well as streaming directly to a Chromecast.
As a wireless router, the conversion from a wired line to wireless connection allows extra security, plus the opportunity to share a trusted and secured internet connection with others in your group. The built-in MTK762N chip offers the best performance of both hardware and software and keeps your router up-to-date with the latest firmware for added levels of security. The RAVPower supports PPPoE, static, and dynamic IP connections to cover all of the usual options inside hotels, Airbnbs, or other travel destinations.
Ability to connect multiple devices
Great for streaming
Instructions could be clearer
Slower speed for streaming
The HooToo TripMate Titan is a great choice for a travel wireless router. It converts a wired network to a wireless one through its included Ethernet port and even does double duty as a portable battery charger, adding a 10,400mAh power bank that can charge an iPhone up to three times over. Beneath the flaps that guard the ports against dust or dirt you'll also find USB-A and micro USB connections along with a Category 5 Ethernet port. At 3.74x1.73x1.73 inches and only 9 ounces, the HooToo is perfect for slipping into a suitcase, briefcase, or purse. Simply plug in an Ethernet cable to set the HooToo up as an access point, and log in with the default password on any laptop, tablet, or smartphone to use it as a router. Up to five devices can connect to it simultaneously.
Fast Single-Band Wi-Fi performance
Versatile wireless modes
No USB port
Struggles with multiple devices
The pocket-sized TP-Link TL-WR802N is capable of hitting up to 300Mbps over 802.11n Wi-Fi and the 2.4GHz band connection ensures lag-free video streaming and online gaming over a wide space. The inclusion of compatibility with Google’s Chromecast highlights the flexibility of the TL-WR802N, which can also function as a router, repeater, client, AP and hotspot.
The N300 is powered through a micro USB port that can connect directly to a wall charger or laptop. Installation happens in just under a minute with a WISP access point that can be shared by multiple users even in a hotel room next door. And since portability is key here, it weighs a really light 7.2 ounces.
"Choosing a travel router that can be powered over a micro USB connection will greatly simplify things when you’re on the go as you’ll be able to power it straight from your laptop without having to pack an extra power adapter." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
USB port for sharing media
Can be used as a Wi-Fi repeater
Lacks SD card slot
No built-in battery
If you're looking for the tiniest travel router possible and don't need a lot of extra frills, Ravpower's FileHub Tripmate Nano is about as small as they come, measuring only 2.2x2.01x07.1 inches and weighing under three ounces. You'll be giving up a few things like an internal battery and an SD card slot, but it still provides a USB port for connecting storage drives, plus a built-in DLNA server so you can easily stream your media to all of your devices.
The single-band Wi-Fi router can handle up to five 802.11n devices with a maximum 300Mbps throughput, and can also work as a simple wireless access point to get Wi-Fi clients onto an existing LAN, or even a Wi-Fi extender, which can be useful if your hotel room doesn't offer wired Ethernet connections and you need a stronger signal in your room. There's no built-in battery, so you'll have to supply your own power source, but since it's powered over micro USB, you can easily hook it up to a portable power bank or even your laptop's USB port in a pinch.
Fast 802.11ac Performance
Port layout isn’t ideal
Older units have security issues
TP-Link’s TL-WR902AC is one of the fastest travel routers that we’ve seen, which is especially impressive at this size and price—it measures 2.64x2.91x0.9 inches and weighs in at only 7.2 ounces, so it’s small enough to carry in a pocket if you really wanted to, letting you set up your own bubble of Wi-Fi pretty much anywhere you go.
Not only does this little router offer impressive dual-band Wi-Fi performance—up to 433Mbps on the 5GHz 802.11ac side—but it’s also incredibly versatile since it can be used not only as a router or access point to create a wireless network, but also as a range extender, private Wi-Fi hotspot for WISP networks, or even as a Wi-Fi client to allow you to connect a wired device to a Wi-Fi network via its built-in Ethernet port.
There’s also a USB port included that lets you share files and media from a removable storage device or provide up to 2A of passthrough power to charge your smartphone or tablet, although the port layout can be a little bit awkward in some cases since the USB and micro USB power ports are on the opposite side from the Ethernet port.
"While most travellers are unlikely to need the kind of speed that dual-band Wi-Fi offers, if you’re in a busy hotel or conference center the higher-frequency 5GHz channel can help to keep you away from the interference and network congestion that’s more commonly found in the 2.4GHz range." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Offers Gigabit LTE Mobile Hotspot access
Netgear is well known for its great home and business routers, so it shouldn't be surprising that it offers a premium mobile travel router as well, and although it doesn't come cheap, it can easily be worth the splurge if you want to be able to get your devices onto the internet from just about anywhere in the world at blazing fast speeds.
Unlike most of the other travel routers on this list, the Nighthawk M1 also works as a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, which means that you'll be able to connect to its Wi-Fi network and get onto the internet even when there's no other Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection available. It's also the first mobile hotspot to support Gigabit LTE, with 4X4 MIMO and four-band Carrier Aggregation, so it's capable of providing internet speeds that can rival your home broadband connection.
The internal dual-band Wi-Fi antennas provide both 2.4GHz and 5GHz access for up to 20 Wi-Fi devices, and it can run for up to 24 hours off the internal battery before you need to recharge it, plus you can use it to charge your smartphone or other mobile devices in a pinch. Of course, it works as a traditional portable router too—just plug a normal internet connection into the Ethernet port and you can share access from it to your Wi-Fi devices. A large 2.4-inch color LCD screen also ensures that you can keep track of the router's status and how much data you're using.
"While mobile hotspots go above and beyond most travel routers by letting you get online from just about anywhere, you’ll want to be careful about how much data you’re using. LTE data doesn’t usually come cheap, and unlike smartphones your laptop will still think it’s using a Wi-Fi connection so it won’t limit its data usage. Plus, with Gigabit LTE it won't take long to rack up a huge data bill." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Fast single-band Wi-Fi
Set up can be complicated
A bit underpowered for advanced features
This Mini Travel Router earns its “value” spot on the list because it is, in a word, fast. At 300Mbps it’s faster than a lot of basic home routers, and it features an internal 128MB of storage. But what’s extra cool here is its open-source nature. You can expand the out-of-the-box capabilities by side loading in tons of functionality to support everything from webcams to USB disks. Plus for an extra $20 or so you can add a super-powerful external antenna to the package for a wider, more stable network. Add that to the built-in VPN functionality (that supports more than 20 different existing clients) and you’ve got a powerhouse that fits perfectly in your pocket (or your carry on).
3 Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Excellent VPN support
Can be complicated to set up
Finicky in certain configurations
If you’re an advanced user looking for a travel router that offers the most power and flexibility, then GL.iNet’s GL-AR750S has you covered. Not only does it offer dual-band Wi-Fi with speeds of up to 733Mbps and full 5GHz 802.11ac support, but there are also three Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be used to plug in wired devices, and a Gigabit WAN port that ensures you get maximum internet speeds.
In addition to its fast performance, the GL-AR750S uses the OpenWRT firmware, so it’s highly configurable, and includes OpenVPN and WireGuard pre-installed so it can act as both a VPN client and a VPN server right out of the box. In fact, it’s ready to go with over 25 VPN service providers, so you’ll be able to ensure your internet activity is private no matter where you land, and it’s also preconfigured to use Cloudflare’s encrypted DNS servers for additional security.
There’s also a USB 2.0 port for connecting external storage devices and sharing content, plus a microSD card slot for keeping up to 128GB of storage right in the router, letting it act as a portable file server. Thanks to the OpenWRT firmware, it can also easily be setup to act as a repeater/extender, bridge, Wi-Fi client, hotspot, USB modem, or even do network diagnostics.
Works as a 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot
Secure VPN & TOR support
GL.iNet makes some of the most secure travel routers available, since they all use open source technology and include features like OpenVPN and OpenWRT support, and now its latest portable router expands its technology onto the airwaves with 4G LTE support, making it a great choice for road warriors who need to stay connected no matter where they are, and want to always make sure they can do so securely and reliably.
Featuring WireGuard encryption, support for multiple open-source VPN protocols, and even TOR anonymous network routing, this router ensures that you'll always have a secure and private connection to the internet, whether it's over your hotel's shared network or your carrier's LTE network, and in fact you can even use the VPN feature the other way, setting up a VPN server over LTE to securely and privately access any of your devices that are behind it, such as when you hit the road with your smartphone and need to get onto the laptop back at your hotel.
More than that, however, it's also a capable Wi-Fi access point, featuring dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz support with 733Mbps throughput across both bands, along with a built-in battery that offers up to eight hours of use and a USB port and microSD card slot that can be used for sharing files with your connected devices.
Built-in VPN support
Dual Ethernet ports
Only supports 2.4GHz 802.11n
This budget pick has a small price tag and a lot of features, making the GL.iNet GL-AR150 a smart solution for travelers who want to quickly convert wired networks into wireless ones. Weighing only 1.41 ounces and measuring 2.28x2.28x0.98 inches, the AR150 comes with OpenVPN pre-installed for increased security.
Compatible with over 20 VPN service providers and with TOR firmware, the GL-AR150 provides maximum protection while surfing on insecure web networks. Powered by any laptop USB, power bank, or a 5V DC adapter, the GL-AR150 is perfectly sized for tucking into a carry on or backpack for use at a hotel, remote workplace, or in the office. Available with dual Ethernet ports, 64MB of RAM and 16MB of flash, the GL-AR150 can increase its memory with external USB sticks. With a top speed of 150Mbps and low power consumption, GL-AR150 can also be used to take a smartphone’s 3G or 4G connection and convert it into a private Wi-Fi network for your other devices.
"150Mbps may not sound especially fast, but it’s actually better than the speed you’ll get from most hotel networks, and should be more than sufficient for a single user—even for high-bandwidth tasks like video streaming and conferencing." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
The Ravpower Filehub is will not only get you connected just about anywhere that you can find an internet jack but can also serve up media, recharge your mobile phone, and even stream to a TV. For true wireless freedom, however, its hard to beat the Netgear M1 mobile hotspot, which can serve up Gigabit LTE access from just about anywhere.
Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings.
Size and weight - You’ll naturally want to make sure the travel router you buy is as lightweight as possible. All of the routers on our list are portable, certainly, but some are smaller than others. If space is an important consideration, you’ll want to find the most compact unit possible. You should also look for one that either has its own battery or can be powered from your computer's USB port so you don't have to carry around a separate power adapter as well.
Security - If you’re a business traveler, you’ll likely be using this wireless router to do your work. If confidentiality is an important consideration, you'll definitely want to look into a router that has strong, built-in internal security and supports WPA2 encryption. If you want the best security possible when using untrusted hotel networks, however, be sure to choose a router that offers a VPN option too.
Speed and range - You’ll want your Wi-Fi network to be fast enough to support any video streaming and conferencing you’ll have to do while you’re traveling, but keep in mind that if it's only for a single user, you don't need the kind of blazing-fast gigabit speeds that home routers offer, especially since most hotels and conference centers won't provide you with nearly that kind of bandwidth anyway. Also, while you don't need your router to blanket an entire house with Wi-Fi, you'll still want enough range to reach every corner of your hotel room.