Best VPN for travel abroad

Looking to ensure online security while traveling abroad? Discover the best VPNs for travel to ensure seamless connectivity.

When traveling abroad, keeping your online activities secure should be a top priority. Public wifi networks can be vulnerable to hackers and cyber threats, putting your sensitive information at risk. Fortunately, there’s a solution that not only safeguards your privacy but also allows you to maintain the appearance of being back home: a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

From managing your banking and financial transactions to staying connected through popular communication apps like WhatsApp and Skype, you shouldn’t have to compromise on convenience or security. A VPN allows you to do these things abroad while also adding an extra layer of protection against online threats, including those on public Wi-Fi hotspots at airports and hotels.

Fear not; we’ve got you covered with the ideal VPN solutions to overcome these obstacles and make your travels worry-free. We deep dive into each of the providers we feature below, but if you just want a quick summary, here is our list of the best VPNs for traveling abroad.

Based on our research, these are the 8 best VPNs for international travel:

  1. NordVPN: Our top choice for traveling abroad! Has the fastest speeds and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for traveling.
  2. Surfshark: Best budget travel VPN. Unblocks tons of streaming platforms abroad and allows unlimited device connections.
  3. ExpressVPN: Large network of speedy servers operating in 94 countries. Can unblock just about anything while traveling.
  4. CyberGhost: A huge list of servers worldwide. A reliable VPN for traveling with beginner-friendly apps. Some of the fastest streaming servers in our testing.
  5. IPVanish: Preferred by Kodi users for apps that integrate well with remote-controlled streaming devices.
  6. PrivateVPN: Great for unblocking most streaming services while traveling abroad. Extra security features including AES-256 encryption.
  7. PureVPN: A low-cost VPN that is perfect for accessing home services on vacation. Risk-free money-back guarantee for 31 days.
  8. ProtonVPN: Works with many popular streaming services while on vacation. Strong AES encryption and a kill switch.

WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?

NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 for travelers with no restrictions for a monthgreat if you want to stay up to date with your favorite shows while on vacation.

There are no hidden termsjust contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

How to use a VPN for international travel

Using a VPN isn’t complicated at all. Follow these simple steps to get started.

Here’s how to use a VPN when traveling abroad:

  1. Pick a suitable VPN provider for international travel. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
  2. Download the VPN apps on your smartphone, laptop, and tablet.
  3. Open the VPN app and connect to a server in a location of your choice.
  4. Congrats! Now, you can use the Internet just like you did back home, but your internet activities will be private.
  5. If you’re having any connection issues, try clearing your cookies and cache. If it persists, you will need to contact the support team.

Note: Wi-Fi networks and internet speeds depend on a country’s overall connectivity to the web. Using a VPN connection won’t amplify speed or give you blazing access like you’re used to back home, and the encryption factor will mean that your speeds may diminish to some extent. If you’re traveling to countries with poor internet access, such as those in the Horn of Africa, then be mindful that a VPN can only do as much as the internet connection that feeds it.

Best VPNs for travel abroad – Our hands-on review

We’ve compared the most important features for the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for traveling abroad.

No valueNordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPNCyberGhostIPVanishPrivateVPNPureVPNProtonVPN
WebsiteNordVPN.comSurfshark.comExpressVPN.comCyberghost.comIPVanish.comPrivateVPN.comPureVPN.comprotonvpn.com
Ranking for Travel Abroad12345678
Server countries8310010063536370+85+
Total number of servers6,000+3,200Undisclosed11,000+2,200+200+6,500+3,800
Avg Speed (Mbps)100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps39 Mbps400 Mbps100+ Mbps
Simultaneous Connections10Unlimited87Unlimited1010Free: 1, VPN Plus: 10
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 69% off + 3 months FREE
$2.29
Save 85% on a 2 year Starter plan
$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.03
SAVE 84% on the 2 year plan
$2.75
SAVE 78% on the 2 yr plan
$2.00
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free
$1.96
84% off the 2-yr standard plan + 4/mo free
$4.99
SAVE 50% on a 2-year plan

Our criteria for testing travel VPNs

Each VPN within this article has been subject to thorough testing to ensure they are fit for purpose. We cover our testing methodology in more detail later, but for now, here’s a quick overview of some of the things we look for in VPNs for travel:

  • Advanced protection features like obfuscated servers for public wifi
  • A strict no-logs policy with no exceptions
  • Access to servers in numerous countries worldwide
  • A reliable network connection with fast speeds
  • Reliable access to streaming services from abroad
  • The ability to bypass blocks in heavily censored countries
  • A generous device limit so that you can share with your travel buddy

The best VPN providers for international travelers

Here’s a more detailed look at each of our best VPNs for traveling abroad:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Apr 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our first choice for an international VPN for travel. It is the fastest VPN we’ve tested and boasts consistently stable connections. It’s tried and tested when it comes to evading government restrictions on internet services and unblocking geo-restricted streaming services. It works really well in China, which is a bonus for those traveling there regularly.

This provider doesn’t store any user data and can be considered a completely logless provider. At the same time, NordVPN has rigorous security standards including 256-bit encryption, the OpenVPN protocol, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection.

Using this service, you’ll easily circumvent restrictions for US Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, and more. The highly customizable product enables users to select a server location that optimizes certain tasks, including streaming HD video, double VPN, and Tor over VPN. The website has a knowledge section that will take you through the process in case you are stuck.

Apps are available for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, and MacOS. A basic plan allows for six devices to connect concurrently.

NordVPN speed test data

No valueNordVPN
WebsiteNordVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)354 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)262 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)284 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 69% off + 3 months FREE

Pros:

  • Incredible speeds
  • Privacy-focused service
  • Won’t break the bank
  • Suitable for power users
  • Apps for all major platforms
  • 24/7/265 support

Cons:

  • Desktop app can be a little clunky

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR TRAVEL:NordVPN is our #1 choice. It offers lots of customizable features at a price you can’t beat. Strong security and privacy and thousands of servers to choose from. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee making it risk-free.

Read our review of NordVPN.

NordVPN Coupon
Up to 69% off + 3 months FREE
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2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is a great budget-friendly provider that has a growing network of 3,000 servers across 60 countries. It’s fast, reliable, and even works in China. Further, as it has no connection limit, you can secure all of your devices at the same time.

This service does not keep logs and includes numerous advanced security features. For instance, there’s 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch (in all versions), ad-blocking, malware scanning, and protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.

Better still, Surfshark is as versatile as it is secure. It reliably unblocks stubborn platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu, meaning you can watch whatever you like, wherever you are in the world.

Surfshark apps are available for Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS, and Linux.

Surfshark speed test data

No valueSurfshark
WebsiteSurfshark.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)521 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)702 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)561 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.29
Save 85% on a 2 year Starter plan

Pros:

  • Fast and reliable
  • Works in China
  • Unblocks some of the most popular streaming platforms abroad
  • Strong focus on your privacy and security
  • 24/7 support

Cons:

  • Still has the occasional slow server

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET OPTION:Surfshark offers strong security features, a true zero-logs policy, and great unblocking potential. It doesn’t impose a device limit. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Surfshark here.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN can unblock several popular streaming services (including US Netflix and the UK’s BBC iPlayer) and comes with military-grade encryption protocols. It even works in repressive states like China, Indonesia, and Iran, where many sites are regularly blocked. ExpressVPN’s cloaking abilities will ensure that you stay a step ahead of the authorities and enjoy an unencumbered internet experience.

ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption, also referred to as ‘military-grade.’ Included is a built-in internet kill switch as well as DNS leak protection, so your information always remains locked within the encrypted private tunnel.

This provider follows a policy of not storing any detailed user logs, including IP addresses. ExpressVPN offers modern, intuitive apps for Android and iOS, as well as sleek desktop versions for both Windows and MacOS. A single subscription allows for five simultaneous connections.

ExpressVPN speed test data

No valueExpressVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)319 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)303 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)278 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free

Pros:

  • Fast streaming speeds and superior service
  • Works with all major streaming sites, e.g. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
  • Top-notch encryption, security, and privacy features are the default to protect your online activity
  • Excellent customer support
  • Wide server network

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than other providers

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SECURE STREAMING:ExpressVPN is a robust service choice. It has fast speeds, strong security, and excellent customer service. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is registered in Romania and does not have to comply with any data retention laws. Since Crossrider acquired it in 2017, it has considerably enhanced its core product and now focuses heavily on streaming. The number of servers it hosts has risen sharply from just a few dozen initially to over 1 They’re housed in 60 countries overall and operate out of 84 worldwide locations.

The company uses 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection as default. Their privacy policy is further strengthened with an internal policy of not logging any IP addresses. Additional internet security features include an ad blocker, anti-malware defense, an anti-tracker, and an “immunizer” against ransomware attacks.

CyberGhost can help you pick a server to unblock a specific streaming site or service, including US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more. Just select the “Unblock Streaming” mode within the app.

You can access the service on Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and MacOS. At the moment, a single subscription allows for seven devices to connect concurrently.

CyberGhost speed test data

No valueCyberGhost
WebsiteCyberghost.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)449 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)269 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)167 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.03
SAVE 84% on the 2 year plan

Pros:

  • Very easy to use and ideal for beginners
  • Streams HD video without any problems
  • Allows 7 connections simultaneously

Cons:

  • Less suitable for power users
  • Doesn’t work in China or UAE

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

Easy-to-use apps:CyberGhost is fast, intuitive, and beginner friendly. Its roster of services is also on the upswing. 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full user review of CyberGhost.

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5. IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish is another excellent choice for folks looking to benefit from fast download speeds and ultra-secure privacy. These are both crucial factors when evaluating a VPN to use abroad, especially if you intend to stream video or access services like Skype, Google, WhatsApp, and your local bank account.

The company chooses to operate its entire network of servers independently, as opposed to other providers that either rent space in server farms, or outsource management to a third party. This means it’s in total control of user traffic.

IPVanish is a known favorite with torrenters and Kodi users because it enables them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is remote control-friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse. It also manages to unblock streaming sites such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub.

This provider uses a system known as dynamic IP; when you connect to the service, you are assigned a new IP address for the entire duration of your session. That is yours alone and will not be assigned to another user. It’s only after you disconnect that the address goes back into the pool and will be used by another individual.

IPVanish offers 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and an internet kill switch. This means your IP address will remain hidden from prying eyes.

Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. This provider recently upgraded its packages to allow 10 devices to connect at the same time, making it a far more generous allocation than the industry standard of five. What’s more, it offers 24/7 live chat for customer support.

IPVanish speed test data

No valueIPVanish
WebsiteIPVanish.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)277 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)237 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)352 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.75
SAVE 78% on the 2 yr plan

Pros:

  • High speeds
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Customer support available 24/7

Cons:

  • Doesn’t allow for anonymous registration

Our score:

4 out of 5

TORRENTING & STREAMING VPN:IPVanish is ultra-secure, quick, and a favorite with streamers and torrenters. It adheres to a no-logs privacy policy and comes with all the bells and whistles of a modern VPN. 7-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of IPVanish.

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6. PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN offers great speeds on global connections and consistently unblocks streaming media sites. Not only will it unlock Netflix USA, but it’ll also do the same for Netflix in the UK, Canada, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Italy, and France.

One of this provider’s strong points is its support options. Staff is available around the clock via live chat and can also remotely fix the problem for you if you grant them permission. This service offers a very secure connection as it uses 256-bit encryption, SHA256 authentication, and 2,048-bit RSA keys. There’s an internet kill switch as well as IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. PrivateVPN has a policy of not storing any internet traffic logs.

It’s so confident about its product that it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all packages. A basic plan will allow five devices to connect at the same time. Apps are included for iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows.

PrivateVPN speed test data

No valuePrivateVPN
WebsitePrivateVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)94 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)57 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)62 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.00
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free

Pros:

  • Faster than many other providers
  • Able to unblock several streaming services
  • Anonymous signups are allowed

Cons:

  • Limited server network
  • Has live chat, but they only operate during European business hours

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

PERFECT FOR STREAMING:PrivateVPN unblocks a plethora of streaming sites. It focuses on quality as opposed to quantity to get the job done. Includes 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our review of PrivateVPN.

PrivateVPN Coupon
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free
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7. PureVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PureVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 31 DAYS

Whether you are traveling for work or going on vacation, PureVPN is an invaluable security and online accessibility tool. The VPN is very affordable, which means you can get a subscription without necessarily increasing the cost of your journey.

The VPN is fast and has a large network of over 6000 servers in 65+ countries. You can use those servers to get an IP address back home, which will allow you to watch home streaming platforms, internet banking, online shopping services, and simply get web results in your native language to avoid confusion.

PureVPN boasts impressive speeds, which makes it an excellent choice for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and making video calls. When we tested the WireGuard protocol, we got an average download speed of 400 Mbps, which is impressive considering the low cost of this VPN.

For avid streamers, PureVPN is a top choice. It successfully provides access to region-specific content on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, disney+, and Prime Video, along with numerous US, British, and international TV streaming services. This makes it a valuable tool for travelers wanting to access their favorite shows and movies while traveling.

In terms of security, PureVPN employs robust AES encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak prevention, and adheres to a strict no-logging policy. These features ensure you can connect to public wifi in airports, hotels, and coffee shops without fear of tracking and hackers.

Customer support response times can be slow, but the overall reliability of the service reduces the likelihood of needing assistance. Travelers can even take advantage of PureVPN’s risk-free money-back guarantee to use the VPN on vacation and then get a refund.

PureVPN speed test data

No valuePureVPN
WebsitePureVPN.com
Avg Speed (US)628 Mbps
Avg Speed (UK)324 Mbps
Avg Speed (Asia)246 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$1.96
84% off the 2-yr standard plan + 4/mo free

Pros:

  • Fast connections
  • Works with Netflix Hulu, HBO Max, and many others
  • Servers in 65+ countries
  • Apps are easy to use
  • 31-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Support is a bit slow
  • Port forwarding costs extra

Our score:

4 out of 5

LOW COST:PureVPN is a low-cost VPN that is perfect for accessing home services on vacation. It has servers in over 65 countries, perfect for bypassing blocks and accessing international services. Robust privacy makes it useful for using VoIP apps in countries where they are blocked. Fast wireGuard protocol and apps for all platforms. 31-day money-back guarantee to try the VPN.

Find out more in our PureVPN review.

PureVPN Coupon
84% off the 2-yr standard plan + 4/mo free
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8. ProtonVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.protonvpn.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

If you want a highly reliable VPN to use while traveling ProtonVPN is extremely reliable. Headquartered in Switzerland, ProtonMail was developed by the team behind Proton Mail. This gives the VPN an excellent reputation. As you would expect from such a trusted brand, the VPN is committed to user privacy with a solid no-logs policy.

Apps are available for all popular platforms, and they come packed with useful features, including AES encryption, various protocols, obfuscation, split tunneling, multi-hop connections, Secure Core, and Tor over VPN capabilities, These features make ProtonVPN useful when navigating through countries with online censorship and surveillance.

Although ProtonVPN doesn’t offer such good discounts on longer plans it is one of the cheapest VPNs on the monthly plan. This makes it not only one of the best VPNs money can buy but also unbeatable value for money when traveling. Our tests revealed it works with the vast majority of international streaming services, including Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, and many others.

Accessing prompt and helpful assistance is a breeze with the live chat support available through the member’s area of the website, and you can feel free to try the VPN thanks to its risk-free money-back guarantee.

ProtonVPN speed test data

No valueProtonVPN
Websiteprotonvpn.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)390 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)306 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)295 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$4.99
SAVE 50% on a 2-year plan

Pros:

  • Excellent speeds for streaming
  • Works to access various Netflix regions
  • Strong encryption and a no-logs policy
  • Many advanced features
  • Port forwarding is great for torrenting

Cons:

  • A touch expensive
  • Might not be the best for beginners

Our score:

4 out of 5

ADVANCED AND SECURE:ProtonVPN is an impressive, high-quality VPN that represents unbelievable value for money for traveling. You can get a 1-month subscription for just $9.99, which is extremely competitive. Works with many popular streaming services while on vacation. Strong AES encryption and a kill switch. Easy to use on all devices. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Find out more in our ProtonVPN review.

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Testing Methodology: How we find the best VPNs for travel

Deciding which VPNs are the best for travel requires looking at a multitude of factors. Many VPNs fail to fulfil all of the key requirements when it comes to server locations, server speeds, and overall level of security. Below, we detail what we looked for and why it’s helpful in this case.

  • Server locations: The more server locations a VPN has, the more useful it is for travel. The VPNs we recommend provide servers (often thousands) across dozens of countries. This allows you to connect to a server back home (or at least as close as possible) to continue browsing as normal while traveling.
  • Fast speeds: We carry out speed tests to help us identify the fastest VPNs on the market. Traveling abroad often means connecting to slower networks, some of which may throttle your bandwidth. The best VPNs for travel provide unlimited bandwidth so you can browse and stream without restriction.
  • Bypass blocks: Traveling abroad means much of your favorite online content from home becomes region-locked. This is particularly common with streaming platforms. We test each VPN against a wide range of websites and services to make sure you’ll be able to bypass restrictions.
  • Strong security: You may find yourself connecting to public wifi networks when you travel overseas. A VPN is essential because such networks are often vulnerable to hackers and snoopers. We look for each VPN to offer, at a minimum, military-grade encryption and protection from leaks.
  • Privacy protection: Privacy requires not only for your data to be encrypted, but that the VPN provider operates a no-logs policy. Having studied some 140 VPN logging policies, we know which VPNs best allow for online anonymity even if you travel to countries with strict internet censorship.
  • Ease of use: In looking for all of the above, we test each VPN’s desktop and mobile apps. We’re then able to determine how beginner-friendly each is. Ideally we want you to be able to connect to a server with a single click, as well as have 24-hour access to live chat and email support.
  • Value for money: You can find VPNs that don’t offer much of the above yet cost more than the best VPNs for traveling abroad. Of course, it helps that we provide discount coupons in this post so you can get an even better deal. Remember, each VPN also has a money-back guarantee of at least 30 days.
  • Apps and devices: If you’re traveling, you’re probably going to be using your phone, tablet, or laptop more than at home. This is why we test every travel VPN on a variety of different devices, and only recommend those that work perfectly on the go.

Want to know more about how we test VPNs? Our VPN testing methodology post goes into even greater detail.

Should I use a free VPN for travel abroad?

The primary reason you want to use a VPN when abroad is to safely and securely access your favorite entertainment channels, use public wifi connections, or engage in online financial transactions. The caveat here is that the method you use to obfuscate your location will deploy robust encryption protocols and deliver an excellent experience. The VPNs we’ve recommended in this article will definitely do that, but don’t hold your breath when it comes to the free options.

Free VPN services don’t invest enough money in cloaking technology and aren’t interested in shipping the same product as paid services. You might be able to connect to a server but be prepared to be inundated with spammy advertisements and frequent interruptions to convince you to upgrade to a paid package. Free VPNs have lots of users and relatively few servers, which means servers are often overloaded. This makes free VPNs a poor fit for online data-intensive tasks like streaming video, playing online games, or even accessing banking and financial services.

Many unethical and unscrupulous providers have been caught illegally mining user data and selling it to third-party advertisers. Others have been known to infect host devices with malware and one has even gone a step further and leveraged idle bandwidth to build botnet armies.

Streaming services like NetflixHuluHBOSling TV, and others are bound by contracts to restrict their media content to IP addresses from specific countries. If they’re found shirking this commitment, they will be liable to pay millions of dollars in penalties. That’s why such entertainment giants spend an inordinate amount of money beefing up their online security to detect and block VPNs. Their network administrators can easily detect free VPNs because they might not run an encrypted layer.

However, the sophisticated and advanced VPN providers we’ve highlighted will do the job of protecting your location without breaking a sweat.

How do I decide on a suitable travel VPN?

VPN services are heavily prevalent all over the internet. Some users may fall in the trap of assuming they’re all the same. The reality, however, is that VPN services vary greatly — you definitely need to be prudent and exercise caution before deciding on one that works for your needs.

Here are some factors to consider before settling on a service:

Strength of network

Some VPN services offer thousands of servers, while others restrict their selection to about a hundred. There’s no hard and fast rule on which one’s better, but something to consider is where the servers are located. You don’t want a high concentration in a specific area while the rest of the world is ignored. Virtual Private Networks are used to stay in touch with content from back home as well as unlock social media sites where they might be restricted. Hence you should evaluate server options in major countries and the regions where you want to access it. For example, if you’re an Aussie traveling abroad then you should look at the availability of servers in Australia to keep up with content from back home.

Number of simultaneous connections

When you travel in a group such as with friends and family, you may want to invest in a VPN plan that allows you to share the service with your travel mates. This way you can whittle the cost per person to less than a dollar a month. 

Supported platforms

Before deciding on a suitable provider, you’ll want to check that the service is compatible with your preferred platforms. If you’re a PC and Android user, then you definitely want the VPN service to work on both. Not all VPN companies offer apps for the platform you’re looking for. For example, only a handful of VPNs have a Fire Stick app and even fewer VPNs have a Linux GUIIf you’re unsure on whether a provider is compatible with your device then it’s a good idea to check with customer support before purchasing a plan.

Easy to install and set up

VPN services incorporate sophisticated engineering but that doesn’t mean they should be clunky to setup and install. The best services make it extremely easy for users to register, install, and navigate through the options. You should be able to simply download the native software, log in, and let the app do the rest with the click of a few buttons. Anything more taxing than that points to a clunky user experience which you should avoid.

What other security protocols should I follow while traveling?

A VPN should sort you out for the most part, but here are a few additional steps you can take to make sure your trip runs smoothly:

Choose a strong password and enable 2-factor authentication wherever possible. Some Android phones have a setting where the device can be unlocked if it detects it’s in close vicinity of the user. Turn this setting off, because a thief could pilfer your phone and access its contents immediately. Update all your device software before leaving your home country so all security patches are fully functional and you’re protected as much as possible. Back up your phone every day so that important information, such as photos or work documents, are safely uploaded to the cloud and will always remain accessible, even if you lose your device.

How do I access WhatsApp and similar services where they are blocked?

Your travels might take you to lands far and wide where internet freedoms and individual liberty aren’t guaranteed. As a result, you might see that commonplace services you take for granted, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Skype, are blocked.

For example, according to FreedomHouse, WhatsApp is blocked or restricted in the following countries:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Brazil
  4. China
  5. Egypt
  6. Ethiopia
  7. Jordan
  8. Kazakhstan
  9. Montenegro
  10. Saudi Arabia
  11. The Gambia
  12. Turkey
  13. Uganda
  14. United Arab Emirates
  15. Yemen
  16. Zimbabwe

In some of these countries, the entire suite of WhatsApp features will be blocked while others might only stymie access to voice and video calls. Whatever the case, you certainly want to remain connected with loved ones from back home.

In this situation, all you need to do is make sure there’s a VPN downloaded and installed on your device before you step on the plane. Doing so before you leave is important because VPNs are blocked in certain countries too. If you wait until arriving in the destination country, it’s possible that local ISPs might stop you from accessing the VPN website.

Once you arrive, simply turn on the VPN app, connect to a server where you know WhatsApp works well (such as the US, Canada, or Europe), and only use the chat application once a connection has been successfully established.

Note that VPNs themselves are blocked in some countries. We have separate guides on using a VPN in China and VPN use in UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Are there any countries where VPNs are illegal?

VPNs are legal in most countries, but you’ll break the law if you use them elsewhere. The countries where VPNs are illegal include:

  • North Korea
  • Belarus
  • Oman
  • Iraq
  • Turkmenistan.

In a handful of other countries, VPNs are legal but only if they are approved by the local government. These countries include China, Russia, Türkiye, UAE, India, Iran, Egypt, and Uganda. These VPNs are likely to be pointless, though, as the government could monitor your usage while connected.

Best VPN for Travel FAQs

Why use a VPN when traveling?

Travelers often find themselves connecting to the internet from unfamiliar networks. These include open wi-fi hotspots at hotels, airports, cafes, and restaurants, for example. These hotspots can be compromised by hackers and internet service providers. Hackers can also set up their own wi-fi hotspots and trick people into connecting to them.

A VPN encrypts all the internet traffic between your device and the VPN server. This prevents anyone listening in on the wi-fi network from being able to decipher any data they happen to intercept.

Travelers headed to countries where governments censor the web can use VPNs to bypass blocks on websites and apps. This is important for being able to communicate and get information from back home.

Lastly, VPNs unblock region-locked content. If you can’t access a streaming site due to location restrictions, a VPN can often bypass those restrictions.

How can I access blocked websites and apps while traveling abroad?

If you plan on traveling to a place where the internet is censored, there’s a good chance VPN websites will be censored as well. With that in mind, be sure to buy your best VPN for travel and download the app ahead of your trip.

Once the VPN is installed on your smartphone and/or laptop, all you need to do is launch the app, select a location, and hit the Connect button. A few moments will pass while the connection is established, and you’ll then be able to access blocked apps and websites. The VPN will stay connected in the background while you use other apps.

How do I use wi-fi securely while traveling?

Wi-fi hotspots can be compromised or spoofed by hackers, so it’s important to use a VPN to secure your connection. This is especially true if you plan on using any websites where you plan to enter a password or financial information.

After connecting to a new wi-fi network, just open your VPN app and connect. Once the connection is established, all your internet data will be secured.

Some VPN apps include a feature that will automatically connect your device to the VPN if it recognizes that you’re connected to a new or unsecured network. This is handy if, like me, you’re forgetful about turning on the VPN manually.

Is using a VPN legal everywhere?

Using a VPN is 100 percent legal in almost every country. You can check out a list of countries where VPN use is restricted or illegal here.

Can I use a VPN to avoid roaming charges?

No, a VPN will not help you avoid roaming charges. Your phone service provider can still see where you’re connecting to the internet from, just not where you’re connecting to.

Can VPN providers be trusted?

All of the VPNs we recommend have strong track records of protecting users’ privacy. They do not give into warrantless demands for information by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, have not had any major data breaches, use strong and up-to-date security, and do not log your activity. However, not all VPNs are trustworthy for traveling abroad, so we recommend you stick to reputable providers.

Does Google Maps work with a VPN?

Yes, Google Maps still works with a VPN on both desktop and mobile. On mobile devices, Google Maps uses cell tower and GPS signals to determine location, which is separate from the location information hidden by your VPN—your IP address.

Can using a VPN get you cheaper flights?

It is possible to get cheaper flights by using a VPN. However, there’s no guarantee of this. Prices for flights (and indeed for many products and services online) can vary depending on your location. So it’s worth connecting to servers in a few different countries to compare prices. Just remember to clear your browser’s cache and cookies between each new connection so that the website in question forgets your previous IP address.

Do I need a travel router to make a VPN work?

No, you don’t need a travel router to make a VPN work. Indeed, not all travel routers are compatible with VPNs (and vice versa). In order to use a VPN, all you need is an internet connection. This may be via Wi-Fi or mobile data, for example. Once connected to the internet, simply open the VPN app and connect to a server in your preferred location. You’re then good to go!

Will I be able to access my home streaming services with a VPN?

One of the benefits of using a VPN is that you’ll be able to access your home streaming services as normal when traveling abroad. That’s because a VPN lets you change your IP address and make it look as if you’re accessing the service from the location in which its available. Of course, not every VPN is suitable for traveling abroad. Some struggle to bypass geo-blocking which is why it’s important to stick with the best VPNs as listed in this post.

Do I need a VPN for hotel wifi networks?

It’s a good idea to use a VPN whenever you use a publicly-available network. After all, there’s no telling who might be monitoring it, or even if it’s adequately secured. A VPN’s encryption takes care of both of these problem, shielding your traffic from prying eyes and allowing you to shop, bank, or browse the web without worrying about having your data intercepted.

There are more practical reasons to use a VPN too. For instance, some hotels might place restrictions on the type of website you can access using their wifi. Once connected to a VPN, the hotel can no longer see which sites you’re trying to visit, which means they can’t block your requests.

Will a VPN make my connection slow while traveling?

A VPN will always reduce the speed of your connection to some degree but providers have taken steps to reduce their impact as much as possible. In fact, thanks to new connection protocols and constantly-updated optimization processes, VPNs are far faster than they used to be.

If you’re struggling with slow speeds while connected, there are a couple of things you can do to help. First off, try doing just one thing at a time — this means halting any downloads or torrents while trying to stream. You should also choose a server that’s as close to your location as possible and use a wired connection instead of wifi if that’s an option.

Can I use these VPNs to access my online banking while traveling?

Yes, you can use a VPN to access your online banking while traveling. However, you should check with your bank first to make sure that they allow this. Some banks may not allow their customers to access their accounts using a VPN and may block the connection if VPN usage is detected.

Will I need to download my VPN for travel before I leave?

You don’t necessarily need to have your VPN already downloaded and installed before traveling. However, there are some countries in which many VPNs are blocked. This includes their websites and IP addresses. The likes of China and Russia have strict online censorship which may prevent you from downloading your VPN for travel within these countries.

Downloading your VPN before you travel should allow you to use it as normal. It also means you won’t have to download it while using an unsafe public wifi network and potentially exposing yourself to hackers and snoopers. Overall, it’s a good idea to be prepared so that you can browse and stream with peace of mind while traveling.

If my hotel has a wired connection, do I still need a VPN?

Yes. Even if your hotel has a wired connection, you should still use a VPN for added security and privacy. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, it’s important to take extra precautions against potential malicious attacks. A VPN encrypts your traffic and prevents people from snooping on your activities or stealing your data. In addition, using a VPN can help protect you from other threats, such as viruses and malware that could be lurking on the network. So even if your hotel offers a wired connection, use a good quality VPN to keep yourself safe while online.

How else can I protect my online privacy abroad?

Using a VPN is one of the best ways you can protect your online privacy abroad. However, there are a number of other things you can do.

One of the key things is to be wary when it comes to public wifi. Such networks are not secure which means your online activity can be monitored. If you do need to access public wifi hotspots, we recommend you only do so while connected to a VPN.

Make sure your passwords for online accounts are strong as well as unique. One great way to do this is with a password manager. A password manager safely stores your passwords within an encrypted vault. You’ll only need to remember the master key to access your various login credentials.

When browsing the web, try to stick to secure sites with HTTPS in the URL. This reduces the risk of engaging with malicious sites. When you do stop browsing, it’s a good idea to turn off your wifi, location, and Bluetooth to make yourself harder to track.

Are these VPNs suitable for digital nomads?

The best VPNs for travel abroad are very much suitable for digital nomads. With their large server networks, fast connection speeds, and powerful content unblocking, you can use these VPNs to work online from almost any country in the world. Some of the best VPNs for travel even work in China, the country with arguably the strictest internet censorship.

What should I do if my VPN isn't working abroad?

A VPN should work regardless of where you connect to the internet. This means that you should be able to use your VPN to gain privacy and unblocking capabilities no matter where you go on vacation.

With that said, it is important to remember that VPNs are banned in some countries. In those locations, ISPs have been ordered to block known IP addresses of well-known VPN servers.

Unfortunately, this means that in some countries such as the UAE, Russia, and China, your VPN may stop working. If this happens the VPN may fail to establish a connection when you ask it to connect.

If you are having problems connecting to your VPN abroad, we recommend that you try connecting to a different server location. We also recommend that you use obfuscation mode (stealth) as this is designed to bypass VPN blocks caused by strict firewalls.

If your VPN is failing to connect, and it does not have any obfuscation features, it may not work in the country you are currently visiting. Check with your VPN to find out more about using obfuscation and for help with using the VPN in your country.

If your VPN is connecting without issues, but you are failing to access TV streams or services from back home, you should check whether you need to connect to a specific server that has been optimized for streaming.

Remember that not all VPNs work with popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and iPlayer. This means that you must subscribe to a VPN that works with your specific streaming providers.