There’s a lot to think about when selecting a VPN for travel. Leveraging our years of expertise in the VPN space coupled with what you’ll need when traveling, here’s what to look for:
Specifically for travel, you’ll want a large VPN server network. While more overall connectivity options are beneficial, you’ll also want plenty of countries if you plan on any international travel. Many servers in a smaller handful of countries might work if you only travel to one of those spots. But for regular international adventures, greater country choice comes in handy.
VPNs add a layer of protection by encrypting your traffic and masking your IP address, making it harder for cyber attackers to access your browsing data. When traveling, you’ll likely use open wireless networks at an airport terminal, in the hotel lobby or at a coffee shop, but a VPN protects your data from eavesdropping, whether by cyber criminals or snooping ISPs.
You’ll want a VPN that runs on the gadgets you’re bringing on your trip. Make a list of the devices you want to bring along with a VPN installed and ensure your provider has apps for those electronics. Luckily, most providers offer solid Windows, MacOS, Android and iPhone apps. While many offer Linux VPN apps, only a few feature a graphical user interface, which is more beginner-friendly than a command-line interface. If you want to tote your Linux laptop or a Steam Deck along, look for a VPN with a Linux GUI app. Although most folks don’t travel with streaming devices, you might tote along a Fire Stick, Android TV box or Apple TV for your hotel room.
All VPNs throttle your internet upload and download speeds somewhat, but the fastest options drop your connectivity by an average loss of only 10% to 20%. Especially if you’re performing internet-intensive tasks like streaming video in 4K, Zooming for work, gaming or uploading YouTube videos, you’ll want a fast VPN. Even if you aren’t, reliable internet speeds are great for a better experience checking your email and browsing the web.
Aside from privacy, many people use VPNs to unblock region-restricted content. For instance, you can use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer — normally available only in the UK — from other countries, like the US. Similarly, a VPN is useful when traveling. If you’re on holiday in a foreign country but want to access Netflix libraries from your home country, a VPN makes that possible. Check which VPNs unblock the streaming services you want to watch from abroad.
VPNs range from around $13 a month to about $90 annually. Generally, you’ll get a discount by paying for a year or more of service upfront. However, we don’t recommend shelling out for more than 12 months at a time. While the VPN you pick might initially be fast, secure and excellent for streaming, it could get acquired by a shady company, suffer a data breach or get slower during a year. Thus, we suggest sticking to an annual plan for the best value and the least risk.