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The top travel VPNs (and whether a VPN is all you need to be protected)

The best travel VPN for you should be compatible with your laptop and mobile devices, as well as provide a secure and reliable connection. If you're looking for one to try in 2023, here are your top travel VPN choices.

When commuting or working abroad, you do not have to leave security and privacy behind at home.

With that in mind, a travel VPN, a tool that is unfortunately often overlooked, is available to keep your data safe and give you peace of mind when you are on the go. Of all the situations you may find yourself in when using a VPN, perhaps the most mission-critical is when you are traveling. When away from home, you depend on the communication infrastructure available where you are. You may have a strong Wi-Fi connection in an airport or café, but is it secure?

In most cases, with open Wi-Fi hotspots, the answer is a resounding "no."

That is where a VPN comes to the rescue. The best VPNs create secure tunnels that protect your internet traffic. This provides an extra layer of protection against having financial information or login credentials exposed or stolen.

Remember, VPNs are illegal in some countries because the host government wants to monitor all traffic. Make sure you check local laws before doing something that may be frowned upon and investigated, possibly resulting in serious consequences.

The service you use at home may be great for streaming movies, but VPNs can serve a much more serious purpose abroad. Choose carefully.

Pros & Cons
  • Supports multiple devices and operating systems
  • 160 server locations
  • Transparent privacy policy
  • Can be expensive
  • Only five concurrent connections
More Details

ExpressVPN specifications: 160 server locations, 94 countries | 5 simultaneous connections | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and a whole lot more | Logging: No browsing logs, some connection logs | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

ExpressVPN has a sizable server network comprising 160 server locations in 94 countries. No matter where you're traveling, there's a good chance you'll be able to connect to a local server.

ExpressVPN is a widely used VPN provider that supports many platforms and devices. It's also one of the best VPNs for iPhones and a top VPN for Android, which makes it useful for traveling, especially when you are using multiple devices on different operating systems. 

You can use the native app or set up ExpressVPN manually on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chromebooks, and more.

A key advantage of ExpressVPN is the private DNS it runs on every VPN server when it comes to travel. That means that when you're trying to access Gmail, for example, ExpressVPN's DNS will give you an actual IP address for Gmail. You don't have to opt-in to ExpressVPN's private DNS as requests are protected automatically, and without exposure to third parties.

ExpressVPNs privacy policy clearly lays out what information it collects. It doesn't log information that could be used to identify you, such as your IP address, browsing history, or DNS queries. However, it does track the dates you connect, how much data is transferred, and the server location. ExpressVPN has made this information very clear and easily accessible, which is a plus.

At the time of writing, subscription costs begin at $6.67 per month on a limited-time deal with a 12-month plan and three months thrown in for free; $9.99/month for six months, or $12.95 for a month of access.

Read the review: Our ExpressVPN review

Pros & Cons
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Over 3,200 servers
  • No logs
  • Average speeds
  • Uncompetitive for month-by-month prices
More Details

Surfshark VPN specifications: Servers: 3,200+, 100 countries | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Firefox, Chrome | Logging: No activity logs | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

In our most recent testing, while speed was rather average, the Surfshark connection was reliable and had fast connection times. Surfshark VPN is a very secure option, and we found no DNS leaks during recent tests. 

The company doesn't log your activity while using the service and offers private DNS capabilities, as well as what Surfshark call NoBorders mode. This feature enables you to access sites regardless of restrictive border connections. Be careful, though. Countries restricting access tend to frown on bypassing those restrictions.

Surfshark VPN comes with many standard features, including split tunneling, a kill switch to keep your connection secure if it drops, MultiHop (a double VPN),  static and rotating IP addresses, and an ad/tracker blocker. There are also inexpensive add-on tools, including a tracker-free search engine, data breach scanner, and antivirus software.

Surfshark operates a live warrant canary and is independently audited.

At present, Surfshark is running a sale. Reduced from $12.95/month (the typical one-month subscription fee), the VPN will only cost you $2.30/month for a two-year subscription plan. Alternatively, you can sign up for a year and you will pay $3.99 /month. You are billed for the complete package at the time of sign-up. Two free months are on offer if you sign up for the 24-month plan. 

Read the review: Our Surfshark VPN review

Pros & Cons
  • Large server network
  • Reliable and fast
  • Stable connection
  • Limited to six simultaneous connections
More Details

NordVPN specifications: Servers: 5,000+, 60 countries | Simultaneous connections: 6 | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox, Edge | Logging: No activity logs | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

In our review of NordVPN, it was fast and had a reliable and consistent connection. NordVPN's performance was generally consistent across a wide range of test situations. This means that if you're traveling, you're likely to be able to count on the same performance from NordVPN no matter where you're connecting from.

NordVPN also supports P2P sharing and is one of our favorite VPNs for torrenting. It offers a second layer of encryption through its Double VPN feature and has a dedicated IP if you're trying to run a VPN that doubles as a server. As far as compatibility goes, NordVPN supports all of the major platforms and has additional browser plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Overall, NordVPN is a solid choice. It has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which should give you enough time to test out the product and see if it's a good fit for you.

The subscription cost can also be considered expensive outside of sales events. You can select between Complete, Plus, and Standard on a two-year, one-year, and monthly plan, the difference being whether or not you also want access to a password manager, data breach scanner, or encrypted cloud storage service.

Prices start from $4.19 /month on a two-year standard plan to $14.49 /month on a complete, one-month subscription. At the time of writing, NordVPN is running a birthday promotion for new subscribers. If you sign up for the two-year plan, on any tier, will be given a gift of either three months or one year free.

Also: How to set up and use NordVPN

Pros & Cons
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Highly configurable app
  • Fast connection times
  • Slower download speeds
More Details

IPVanish VPN specifications: Servers: 2,000+, over 75 countries | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV, Android TV, Chrome | Logging: No activity logs | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

IPVanish is a highly configurable product with a user-friendly interface and a raft of configuration options for the app. The app gives you many server selection options and shows each location's ping speed and server load.

These features can be valuable when you're on the road because they allow you to choose the optimal server based on your current location, which can vary depending on where you are in the world.

IPVanish's connection speed was fast, but the download speeds were subpar (cuts speeds by 73%) compared to other services in our most recent testing for the fastest VPNs. If the freedom to configure your VPN to your liking and the ability to choose from an extensive list of countries and servers are your priorities, this is the VPN for you. 

IPVanish offers a discounted plan for $3.33 /month if you commit for two years. This increases to $3.99 /month for a yearly plan and $11.99 for one month. However, unless you turn off automatic renewal, you can expect a price hike once your deal ends.

Read the review: Our IPVanish review

What is the best VPN for travel?

The best VPN for travel is ExpressVPN, which has servers in 94 countries and 160 locations. ExpressVPN provides a fast and reliable connection and offers top-notch security features, such as private DNS. It supports the most popular mobile platforms, as well as a wide range of other platforms and devices. Therefore, even when not traveling, ExpressVPN can secure your internet connection from just about any device.

VPN for travelPriceKill SwitchSimultaneous ConnectionsServersPlatformsLoggingMoney-back Guarantee
ExpressVPNStarts at $6.67/monthYes5160 server locations, 94 countriesWindows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and moreNo browsing logs, some connection logs30 days
Surfshark VPNStarts at $2.30/monthYesUnlimited3,200+ servers, 100 countriesWindows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Firefox, ChromeNo activity logs30 days
NordVPNStarts at $4.19/monthYes65,000+ servers, 60 countriesWindows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox, EdgeNo activity logs30 days
IPVanish VPNStarts at $3.33/monthYesUnlimited2,000+ servers, over 75 countriesWindows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV, Android TV, ChromeNo activity logs30 days

Which travel VPN is right for you?

The travel VPN that best fits your needs will provide a balance between security and speed. Some VPNs prioritize encryption and other security measures over performance, and while this won't affect your web browsing or streaming speeds too much, it's still a factor to consider.

Choose this travel VPN...

If you need...


A massive server network. ExpressVPN has a massive server network, providing a greater chance of connecting to a local server while traveling.

Surfshark or IPVanish

Unlimited simultaneous connections. Surfshark and IPVanish both allow unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you can secure all of your devices with just one subscription.


Consistent performance across multiple devices and platforms. NordVPN provides consistent performance across multiple devices and platforms, making it a reliable choice for travelers.


Reliable and highly configurable VPN. IPVanish is a highly configurable VPN that offers a user-friendly interface with a raft of configuration options, allowing you to choose the optimal server based on your location while on the road.

How did we choose these VPNs for travel?

We looked at a list of different metrics to decide which were the top picks for travel VPNs, including ping speeds, encryption, platform compatibility, and the number of servers each brand has worldwide. 

Also, we ensured that each of our picks offered strong security, which means that your data will not be visible while using the program, and certain features (like a kill switch) are included. We also considered the importance of server and country availability, as the more expansive the network, the more user choice. 

What is a VPN?

A VPN is also known as a Virtual Private Network. These services allow users to browse the internet privately and securely connect to open or public Wi-Fi networks with a layer of security designed to mask your data. VPNs give users the ability to change their virtual location by redirecting the connection through servers located worldwide. A VPN will also encrypt your traffic, so your online activities are kept hidden from prying eyes.

However, if your online activities are being monitored at the ISP level -- say, by a government -- they may recognize the signature of a VPN and while they can't see what you are doing, they will know you are using VPN connections.

VPNs are useful in unblocking geo-restricted content and can be a vital tool for accessing information in countries with repressive governments. And they are important services for anyone that wants to maintain a high level of safety and privacy online. 

What is a travel VPN, and why do I need it?

A travel VPN is a virtual private network that provides a secure internet connection while traveling. It encrypts your online traffic and hides your IP address, protecting your sensitive data from cybercriminals and government surveillance. It also allows you to bypass internet censorship and geo-restrictions.

Will a travel VPN slow down my internet speed?

Using a VPN might slow down your internet speed to some extent because the data has to be encrypted and decrypted before being transmitted. However, a good travel VPN will have minimal impact on your speed, and the added security is worth the small loss in speed.

Are travel VPNs legal?

In most countries, using a VPN is legal, but there are some exceptions. Some countries, such as China, Russia, and Iran, have banned the use of VPNs, while others have restrictions on VPN usage. Therefore, it's important to research the local laws of the country you're traveling to before using a VPN.

How can I find out what the VPN rules are for the countries I'm visiting?

There are a number of sources. First, it's always a good idea to reach out to your VPN vendor. They often have a good feel for the countries their services operate in and will often post guidance on their websites. If you're an American citizen, you may wish to consider contacting the US State Department. It lists travel advisories for US citizens, and they have foreign service officials who can provide general guidance. Check the travel advisories web page. Your nation's foreign ministry may have a similar service if you're outside the US.

If you're looking to understand which countries either ban or discourage VPN usage, NordVPN has a legal guide that lists countries with severe restrictions, bans, and possible penalties for breaking VPN laws. 

Is a VPN all I need to be protected while traveling?

No, no way. VPNs can, generally, protect your data while it's in motion. But if your computer or phone is seized (whether or not it's encrypted), it's possible law enforcement can access your data. Some governments might simply hold your devices for whatever reason they deem useful. Online services you access in-country might have less protection than the very same services in your host country. And, of course, there are all the normal travel security issues, like being careful what you spend, how you handle cash, who you trust, and so on that could cause risk while traveling.

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

Yes. Don't assume any network endpoint is safe when traveling. Always make sure your connections are encrypted when communicating from any network connection.

Can a VPN help me save on airfare?

Many VPN services definitively claim you can save hundreds of dollars on flights by using a VPN to change your location. And there are plenty of blog posts with anecdotal evidence supporting the theory that a VPN can help cut the price of your plane ticket. But the reality is less clear, and the most likely scenario is that no one knows for sure how much, if at all, a VPN can help you score cheap flights.  

Airfare prices are set by algorithms based on complicated factors, such as demand. You could notice a price difference using a VPN to spoof your location, but the change in cost may or may not be related to your location. From a practical standpoint, it's difficult to account for every possible variable. Also, given the amount of data available on consumers, maybe the real advantage of using a VPN is remaining anonymous.

Another way to look at it is if a VPN actually reduces the cost of airfare, it's most likely not going to have as big of an impact as other factors. There are other tactics for booking cheap flights that should be higher on your priority list. Booking early and keeping an eye out for price drops (check if there are change fees before booking), or traveling during days or times of day when there is less demand are great ways to secure the best possible prices on flights.

How do I set up a travel VPN?

To set up a travel VPN, first, subscribe to a VPN service and download the VPN software for your device. Then, open the software and sign in using your credentials. Choose a server location and connect to the VPN. Once connected, your internet traffic will be encrypted, and your IP address will be hidden.

Are there alternative VPNs worth considering?

If the services we've highlighted in our best travel VPNs list aren't a good fit for you, there are other reputable products worth trying out. Proton VPN, VyprVPN, and Atlas VPN are all secure and reputable providers that could better suit your needs. 

You can also check out ZDNET's guide on the top VPNs for more options.

ProtonVPN offers a free version with unlimited data usage and access to servers in three countries.

Atlas VPN offers a free version with a limited number of server locations and data usage, but also provides a premium version with access to over 700 servers in more than 30 countries.

VyprVPN offers its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which can help bypass internet restrictions and provide additional security.

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