The 10 Best Wireless Travel Routers of 2020

Pocket routers for Wi-Fi networking on the road

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The Rundown
"Fast AC750 Wi-Fi performance, built-in media streaming, and backup battery power make this a top pick."
"This portable router packs in a 10,400 mAh battery pack to recharge your mobile devices."
"Ensures lag-free video streaming and online gaming over a wide space."
"Weighing under three ounces, this one is about as small a travel router as you can get."
"Dual-band Wi-Fi in a pocketable package, plus five different wireless modes."
"With Gigabit LTE support, you can get up to 20 devices online from almost anywhere in the world at blazing fast speeds."
"A powerhouse that fits perfectly in your pocket (or your carry on)."
Best for Power Users:
GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext at Amazon
"This pocket-sized travel router offers an incredible level of flexibility for power users."
Best for Road Warriors:
GL.iNet Mudi GL-E750 at gl-inet.com
"A portable router and mobile hotspot that can get you online securely from just about anywhere."
"This budget pick has a small price tag and a lot of features."

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. 

Best Overall: Ravpower Filehub AC750 Dual-Band Wireless Travel Router

What We Like
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi

  • Built-in SD card slot

  • Doubles as a battery pack

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Best Power Bank: HooToo TripMate Titan

What We Like
  • Very portable

  • Ability to connect multiple devices

  • Great for streaming

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Best Range: TP-Link TL-WR802N N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router

What We Like
  • Fast Single-Band Wi-Fi performance

  • Versatile wireless modes

  • Easy setup

What We Don't Like
  • 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

Best for Portability: Ravpower FileHub Tripmate Nano

What We Like
  • Very pocketable

  • USB port for sharing media

  • Can be used as a Wi-Fi repeater

What We Don't Like
  • 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. 

Best for Speed: TP-Link TL-WR902AC AC750 Wi-Fi Travel Router

What We Like
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi

  • Fast 802.11ac Performance

  • Versatile wireless modes

What We Don't Like
  • Poor documentation

  • 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

Best Splurge: Netgear Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot 4G LTE Router

What We Like
  • Offers Gigabit LTE Mobile Hotspot access

  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi 

  • Highly configurable

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Big

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

Best Value: GL.iNet GL-AR300M Mini Travel Router

What We Like
  • Fast single-band Wi-Fi

  • VPN support

  • Expandable antennas

What We Don't Like
  • 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).

Best for Power Users: GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel Router

What We Like
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi

  • 3 Gigabit Ethernet Ports

  • Excellent VPN support

What We Don't Like
  • 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. 

Best for Road Warriors: GL.iNet Mudi GL-E750 Portable 4G LTE Router

What We Like
  • Works as a 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

  • Open Source

  • Secure VPN & TOR support

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Bulky

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. 

Best Budget: GL.iNet GL-AR150 Mini Travel Router

What We Like
  • Built-in VPN support

  • Dual Ethernet ports

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Can be complicated to set up

  • 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

Final Verdict

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.

About our Trusted Experts

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.

The Ultimate Travel Router Buying Guide

Let's face it, most of the routers on the market are pretty big and bulky devices. This isn't a big problem if you're parking them in a corner at home, of course, but they're definitely not suited for taking on the road with you.

This has given rise to a whole new category of travel routers: devices that are specifically designed to be extremely portable—often small enough to be carried in a pocket—and run from internal batteries or a simple USB-powered connection that lets you plug them into a laptop or portable battery pack to create your own personal Wi-Fi network. 

Most importantly, since public Wi-Fi hotspots are usually horribly insecure, a good travel router can also offer additional peace of mind by offering a private, encrypted Wi-Fi network for your traffic, securing the connections not only between your devices and the router, but making sure that the traffic leaving the router is also encrypted. 

This means that you can take them just about anywhere you happen to land, whether it's between your home and the office, to a coffee shop where you might want to have more secure Wi-Fi, or of course on the road with you to use in hotels, conference centres, and airport lounges.

Netgear Orbi
 Lifewire

Why Buy a Travel Router?

While most travel routers won't offer the kind of range and performance that you need for even the smallest homes, they can be absolutely indispensable tools if you're somebody who works from the road a lot, since they're portable and versatile without taking up too much space, and generally offer more than enough performance for a single user at relatively close ranges, which is generally how you'll be using them.

A travel router typically plugs into a wired Ethernet connection to provide a short-range bubble of Wi-Fi that's good enough for 3–5 devices. Some can also connect to an existing public Wi-Fi hotspot to provide you with a more private and secure connection, while others even offer support for external USB 4G/LTE modems to help you get online from anywhere there happens to be cellular service. 

Portability

Any wireless travel router should be portable enough to take on the road with you, but there's still a range of sizes and features here to consider.

For example, a travel router that includes an internal battery will naturally be a bit bulkier, but it can also save you the trouble of having to carry a separate power adapter. The larger the battery, the longer it will last, however, you will still need to charge it when the battery runs down, so leaving the power adapter behind might be fine for short jaunts to a coffee shop, but you're still going to need to pack it for business trips. 

Those that don't include built-in batteries will have to be plugged in somewhere before they can be used, but most can be powered over USB, so you can run them from a laptop. Of course, if you're going to need to tether your travel router to your laptop anyway, that might also defeat the purpose of having one, since you could just as easily plug your laptop straight into the wired Ethernet connection and use that as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Bandwidth and Performance

When shopping for a primary router for your home, some of the most important specs to look for are that it provides enough coverage to blanket your home with Wi-Fi, along with the kind of performance that you need to support streaming and gaming from multiple devices. 

This is not the case with travel routers. In fact, you may find that even a basic N150 router—that's one that offers 802.11n support at 150Mbps speeds—is more than enough. Remember that in many cases, a wireless travel router only needs to support one user. Even if you plan to use it with your laptop and smartphone and tablet while you're travelling, you probably won't be streaming movies or downloading large files on all of these devices at the same time.

If you plan on using a travel router for family road trips, it certainly doesn't hurt to move up to something faster, but even then an AC750 router, which offers dual-band performance at 750Mbps, should be more than adequate. To put things in perspective, streaming a 4K movie from Netflix requires a maximum throughput of 25Mbps.

Just keep in mind that there's a good chance that anywhere you plan to actually use a travel router isn't going to offer especially fast internet speeds. In most hotels, you'll be really lucky if you're sharing a Gigabit connection with every other guest in the hotel, which means that you're likely to be limited to around 20Mbps, and that's on a good day.

Asus RT-AC88U Gaming Router
Lifewire 

Range and Coverage

In much the same way that you don't need your travel router to have the fastest speeds, you probably don't need to be too concerned with its range either. You'll notice that almost no travel routers include external antennas, simply because they don't need to cover much more than a single room. 

In fact, it can be a disadvantage to have too much range on your travel router, since you don't really want to be broadcasting your Wi-Fi network to everybody in the vicinity. If it can reach your own devices, that's really all you need, and in most cases that simply means getting to every corner of your hotel room. Most offer enough range to accomplish this even in a larger suite or condo.

Wireless Frequencies: Single-Band vs. Dual-Band

Like other wireless routers, travel routers come in single or multi-band versions, which basically refers to the frequencies they use. A single-band router works only on the 2.4GHz frequency, while a dual-band router offers both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies on two separate bands. 

In practical terms, you'll get better performance on the 5GHz band and better range on the 2.4GHz side. Since as we already explained, range and speed aren't too critical in a travel router, these specs don't matter as much as they do when purchasing a home router.

That said, a dual-band router can offer one very important advantage if you plan to use it in busier places like hotels and airports, and that's the fact that the 2.4GHz frequency is usually a lot more congested, since not only do more people (and devices) use it for Wi-Fi, but many other devices like cordless phones, security systems, and even microwave ovens create interference on the 2.4GHz frequency. The 5GHz band, on the other hand, is usually pretty clear of anything except other 5GHz Wi-Fi devices, which are still considerably less common than those that use the 2.4GHz band.

Note that you won't find any tri-band travel routers—that is, those that offer a second 5GHz band—as there's really no need for this. The purpose of a tri-band router is to divvy up the 5GHz devices in busy homes and offices onto separate bands to minimize congestion and maximize performance. However, a given device can only use one Wi-Fi band at a time, so a second 5GHz band on a travel router would be a waste as it would sit there unused.

Security and Privacy

As a bare minimum, every modern wireless travel router should include support for the Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2) encryption standard. This is even more important in a travel router that you'll be using in more public spaces.

However, if you're concerned about security and privacy, there's also not much point in using WPA2 encryption if the signal that leaves the router on the other side is "in the clear," which it will be in most cases. 

If you're extending from a public Wi-Fi hotspot, in fact, WPA2 encryption is basically pointless, since a hacker can simply intercept your traffic between your travel router and the public hotspots, and while a wired connection is slightly more secure, you're still going through your hotel's wired network, with plenty of opportunities for somebody to monitor your traffic on the way out.

While this probably isn't such a big deal if all you want to do is stream movies from Netflix, if confidentiality is important, we strongly recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting through a travel router, and while you can do this directly from your devices, you'll probably find it even simpler to pick up a travel router with built-in VPN support, so that you're connection is automatically encrypted as soon as you plug it in.

Netgear Nighthawk C7000

Connectivity

Almost all travel routers offer the same type of connectivity that your home router does—turning a wired connection into a Wi-Fi network. However, as more hotels move toward offering guest Wi-Fi networks instead of Ethernet jacks, you'll probably find it more useful to get a travel router that can connect to a public Wi-Fi network as well.

Since most hotel Wi-Fi networks aren't encrypted at all, this has the advantage of giving you your own WPA2-secured Wi-Fi network, as we noted earlier, but it can also sometimes offer a performance boost over the hotel's own Wi-Fi since the travel router also acts as a range extender.

Lastly, there's a third category of travel routers that can act as mobile hotspots to offer internet access for your mobile devices over an LTE cellular network. This is usually accomplished either by including their own built-in LTE modem that you can activate with a cellular carrier or simply supporting a third-party LTE modem through a USB connection. This second option can be a bit more complicated to set up, but it's also a less expensive way to go, since you can add the cellular connectivity if you decide you need it later. 

Additional Features

At a basic level, a wireless travel router really just need to be able to do one thing: provide you with a Wi-Fi network. Some go the extra mile, however, offering features such as integrated USB ports or microSD card slots that can be used to share media and other files with your devices, or even acting as a portable battery pack to recharge your smartphone while on the go.

These can be useful features if you need them, but you shouldn't get caught up too much in the bells and whistles. After all, media sharing is great if you plan to use a travel router with friends or family members, but if you're a solo business traveller, chances are you can plug a media card or external hard drive into your computer just as easily, where you won't have to worry about Wi-Fi streaming performance. 

Similarly, while it's always good to have some emergency battery power while on the go, any wireless travel router that offers a large enough battery to make this practical is going to be more bulky, so there's a definite tradeoff there. 

Brands to Know

Ravpower

Since it's probably better known for its power banks, Ravpower also has a couple of great little wireless travel routers, some of which not surprisingly also double as power banks. When it comes to additional features, however, Ravpower's FileHub routers are veritable Swiss army knives, with SD slots, media sharing, and more.

TP-Link

Well-known for its lineup of affordable routers, TP-Link has some pretty solid entries among travel routers as well, offering good range and performance, even among single-band models. While you won't get all of the bells and whistles with these, they do the one important thing—creating a Wi-Fi network—and they do it very well. 

GL.iNet

GL.iNet's entire business is making small, pocketable routers, and when it comes to security features, they're among the best, thanks to their use of open-source OpenWrt firmware. Most of GL.iNet's little boxes not only offer versatile connectivity, but include a full slate of built-in VPN security features, which come pre-configured to make them easy to get up and running without needing to be a networking expert, but surprisingly there's a lot of room for advanced users to tinker with GL.iNet's routers as well. 

Netgear

Netgear is a leading name in traditional home routers, making some of the best options on the market, and while it doesn't offer nearly the same wealth of options among travel routers, it does offer the cadillac Nighthawk M1, a mobile hotspot router that can offer Gigabit LTE speeds, along with the versatility to be used as a traditional wired travel router whenever you have a wired connection available. 

Netgear Nighthawk RAX80
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Conclusion

Whether you're looking to head to the cottage or attending business meetings around the globe, there are wireless travel routers that will have you covered. 

If you need to be able to connect from anywhere, whether there's a Wi-Fi network around or not, be sure to pick a travel router that at least offers the option to add cellular connectivity, and if you're taking a family road trip, having features like media streaming can be a great way to keep your kids occupied. 

When choosing a good wireless travel router, however, the emphasis should be on portability, versatility, and security, so it's important not to get bogged down by things like speed and range—remember that a travel router doesn't need to handle the gaming and streaming needs for your whole household.