If you’re often on the go, using a VPN can provide secure and reliable internet access – especially when you visit an international destination. Websites you rely on, including social media, could be restricted in other countries. And counting on public Wi-Fi can lead to unexpected downtime or insecure connections. Digital nomads often use a VPN to stay online. Not only does a VPN hide your IP address for security, but it tunnels your data through a private encrypted channel that allows you to access otherwise blocked sites.
Finding the best VPN to use for travel is a lot easier now that we’ve done the research for you. Check out four of the best VPN services, including VPNs for Europe and international travel.
The best VPNs for traveling
|Best for||Overall security||Budget friendly||Free service||Controlling Data|
|Price||$12.95/mo or $8.32/mo w/ annual plan||$6.49/mo or $1.67/mo w/36-month plan||$4.87/mo or $58.43 annual||$9.99/mo or $3.33/mo with 36-month plan|
|Features||Rated the best VPN across multiple lists, more than 3,000 servers, servers located in 94 countries.||Does not use 3rd-party companies, 30-day money back guarantee, servers in more than 70 countries.||Unlimited data in the free version, more than 1,200 servers, servers located in 55 countries.||Annual security audits with published results, unlimited secure browsing, servers in 23 countries.|
|Based in||British Virgin Islands||Switzerland||Switzerland||Canada|
All VPNs have some things in common: they route your data through a private server, hide your activity from other entities and keep you fairly anonymous online. But the best VPNs can do more than that. You also want to look for a good price, top-notch security and a contract period that works for you. Many VPNs require you to sign long-term contracts to get the best price. We chose the best VPNs to use for travel based on a variety of factors, including how many servers are available and their level of security.
We evaluated VPNs based on factors related to function, security and price. To determine the best VPNs to use for travel, we expected providers to offer service that is affordable and able to be used from multiple locations (including VPN for Europe) on iOS, Windows and Android devices. We also evaluated expert opinions, security reputation, number of servers used, available speeds and customer reviews.
Best VPN for travelling for overall security: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is routinely complimented for its commitment to security, which includes VPN split tunneling, network lock kill switch, AES-256 encryption, private DNS on every server and no activity logs. While there is no free version, the price breaks down to just over $8/mo. if you pay for an annual plan at the same time. On the downside, this VPN is a bit more expensive than other options. If you’re not using it for international travel you may feel like you’re paying for advanced features you don’t utilize. On the upside, you have the extra security on hand if you ever decide to go abroad.
ExpressVPN has a 4.6/5 star customer rating on Trustpilot.
Best for budget-friendly service: VyprVPN
If you’re willing to lock into a multi-year contract, you can get VyprVPN at a monthly rate that’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Even if you pay per month, the cost comes in at under $7. Despite the low price, the company still has servers in more than 70 countries and you can choose the country you want to route your activity through. The dynamic server switch means you’ll automatically be moved to a new server if yours becomes overloaded. The VPN has download speeds of over 56 Mbps using U.S. servers.
VyprVPN only has a rating of 2.2/5 stars from customers on Trustpilot, which might give some users pause.
Best for free service: ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN has both paid and free options. If you’re a traveler dipping your toe into VPN service, this option is a good place to start. Free customers are promised one VPN connection,
access to servers in three countries, medium speeds and a strict no-logs policy for data privacy. You can use unlimited data per month, too. ProtonVPN uses more than 1,200 servers total across 55 countries, so you always have the option to increase your server access with a paid account.
On the downside to free service, you can only access using multiple devices at once with a paid account, and free customers don’t have P2P/BitTorrent support or guaranteed access to blocked content.
ProtonVPN has a score of 3.3/5 stars from customers on Trustpilot.
Best for data control: TunnelBear
TunnelBear also has a free option with unlimited data use. Plus, they have servers in 23 countries. Where this VPN really stands out is in security transparency and giving users control over their own data. The company performs annual security audits and publishes the results for consumers to read. TunnelBear also allows customers to review and delete their own account data from the company website.
Tunnelbear has earned 3/5 stars from customers on Trustpilot.
What are the limitations of virtual private networks?
While a VPN hides your location and activity from your internet provider and other outside sources, you can’t be completely hidden. Your VPN provider has access to your data. And some may even sell your data to other sources. And you’re still vulnerable to ransomware and other online threats, even with the best VPN to use for travel. Finally, because your data is bouncing from a server that is often far away, you always lose some speed.
How to set up your VPN
Most VPN companies provide step-by-step instructions when you sign up. For some general instructions about how to get started with a VPN on your device (such as a laptop or phone), consider the following:
- Sign up for a VPN to create a login and password.
- Download the company’s app, either from a mobile app store or the company website.
- Enter your login information on the app.
- Wait for the service to locate the VPN server closest to you.
- If it’s allowed, choose the server location you want the company to use.
- Go online. Your data is now being funneled through the VPN pipeline.
Travel VPN FAQs
A VPN helps hide your activity, but it does not provide internet. You will need to log on to an internet provider before you can use a VPN. However, you can feel safer on public Wi-Fi once you run a VPN, because your data and IP address will be hidden.
Using a VPN is legal in most places, including the U.S. If you are traveling to another country, make sure you know the law before using a VPN.
A VPN creates a private network for your device. If internet data is typically a river, your data goes through a steel pipe instead. No one can see what is inside or where it came from. Only the two parties on either side of the pipe (you and the server) know the origins and contents. Your VPN hides your IP address and it appears as if your activity is taking place in the location of the server.
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Written by:Lara Vukelich
Lara Vukelich is a freelance writer in San Diego, Calif. She writes creative content and SEO-driven copy that can be found everywhere from Huffington Post and Quiet Revolution to Expedia, Travelocity, MyMove, Al… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content