The Best Wireless Travel Routers of 2024

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The Best Wireless Travel Routers of 2024

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Pocket routers for Wi-Fi networking on the road

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Frequent travelers battling poor cell service, dubious security, and excessive hotel and airport Wi-Fi fees can benefit from a good travel router when working away from home.

The best wireless travel routers avoid these hassles by letting you set up a private bubble of Wi-Fi anywhere you happen to land, whether in a conference center, hotel room, or airport lounge. 

Most people should buy the TP-Link TL-WR902AC - it's small enough to chuck in a backpack and can even double as a Wi-Fi range extender. If you also want a cellular connection as backup, the Netgear Nighthawk M1 is for you, as it doubles as a mobile hotspot for your hotel room or car.

Compact size is ideal for frequent travelers

Doubles as a Wi-Fi extender

TP-Link's TL-WR902AC is one of the fastest travel routers we've seen, which is especially impressive at this size and price. Measuring 2.64 x 2.91 x 0.9 inches and weighing in at only 8 ounces, it's small enough to carry in a pocket, briefcase, or backpack, so you'll be ready to set up your own Wi-Fi bubble anywhere.

For such a small device, the TL-WR902AC offers impressive dual-band Wi-Fi performance. It's also really versatile since it can be not only be used as a router or access point to create a wireless network but also as a range extender, private Wi-Fi hotspot, or even as a bridge to connect a wired device to a Wi-Fi network by using its built-in Ethernet port in the opposite direction. 

A built-in USB port lets you share files and media from a removable USB storage device, and it can also provide up to 2A of passthrough power to charge your smartphone or tablet. The only real downside is that the port layout can be awkward since the USB and micro USB power ports are on the opposite side of the Ethernet port. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

Great choice for heavy internet users

Supports up to 20 Wi-Fi devices at once

Doubles as a mobile hotspot

While it's not the most affordable option on our list, it's well worth the splurge if you need to get several devices onto the internet anywhere at blazing-fast speeds.

With support for up to 20 simultaneous devices, Netgear's Nighthawk MR1100 can quickly handle your whole family or project team, and unlike most travel routers on this list, the one works as a 4G LTE mobile hotspot too. This means you'll be able to connect to its Wi-Fi network and get online even when there's no other Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. It's also the first mobile hotspot to support Gigabit LTE, with 4X4 MIMO and four-band Carrier Aggregation. Hence, it can provide internet speeds rivaling your home broadband connection.

It's not just about LTE, though—the MR1100 also works as a traditional portable router. Just plug a standard internet connection into the Ethernet port to share access 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. The rechargeable battery can keep you going for up to 24 hours before you need to charge it, and in a pinch, you can also use some of that capacity to charge your smartphone or other mobile devices. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac / 4G LTE | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1 

Not the fastest internet speeds when connected to multiple devices

TP-Link’s TL-WR802N is an older single-band router that offers a surprisingly great range in its small package. While the single-band N300 rating won’t break any speed records, it still provides enough performance for lag-free 4K Netflix streaming and uninterrupted video conferences on Zoom. 

Like most travel routers, the TL-WR802N is designed for use by one or two users when you’re on the go, and the 300Mbps 802.11n speeds will likely be faster than the internet connection at most hotels and conference centers you find yourself in. This little pocket-sized router offers exceptional coverage, so you won’t need to worry about staying connected while roaming the boardroom. 

The N300 draws its power via a micro USB port that can connect directly to a wall charger or laptop, so you won’t have to worry about how to power it. It can also function as a repeater, Wi-Fi client, or extender for a public WISP hotspot. The only downside is that, unlike its dual-band sibling, the TL-WR902AC, it lacks a USB port, so you won’t be able to use it for sharing files. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11n | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: N300 | Bands: Single-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

Works as a 4G LTE mobile hotspot

The GL.iNet GL-E750 router is an excellent choice for road warriors who must stay connected securely and reliably anywhere they land.

With WireGuard encryption, support for multiple Open Source VPN protocols, and even Tor anonymous network routing, this router ensures that you can always have a secure and private connection to the internet if you're a relatively advanced user. Whether that's over your hotel's shared network or your carrier's LTE network, all your traffic will be encrypted, and you can even have an always-on tunnel back into your home or office network. 

It's not just for mobile LTE access, however; it's also a capable Wi-Fi access point, with 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 slots that can be used for sharing files with your connected devices. Since it's designed to be used from anywhere, it also features a built-in rechargeable battery that promises up to eight hours of use on a single charge. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac / 4G LTE | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1 

Most of the routers on the market are big and bulky devices. If you're parking them in a corner at home, this is a manageable problem, but they're not suited for taking the road with you.

This has given rise to a whole new category of travel routers: devices that are specifically designed to be highly 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 insecure, a good travel router can also offer additional peace of mind by providing a private, encrypted Wi-Fi network for your traffic, securing the connections not only between your devices and the router but also making sure 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 on the road with you to use in hotels, conference centers, and airport lounges.

When shopping for a router for your home, you're looking for enough range to blanket your home with the strong Wi-Fi signal you need to support streaming and gaming from multiple devices. 

Travel routers are different. You may find that even an entry level router—one that offers 802.11n support at 150Mbps speeds—is more than enough.

Like other wireless routers, travel routers come in single or multi-band versions, which refers to their frequencies. 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. 

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 you'll use in more public spaces.

While this probably isn't such a big deal if all you want to do is stream movies from Netflix, if confidentiality is essential, we strongly recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting through a travel router. 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 your connection is automatically encrypted as soon as you plug it in.

Almost all travel routers offer the same connectivity as your home router—turning a wired connection into a Wi-Fi network. However, as more hotels offer guest Wi-Fi networks instead of Ethernet jacks, you'll probably find getting a travel router that can also connect to a public Wi-Fi network is more beneficial.

There's also a category of travel routers that can act as mobile hotspots to offer internet access for your mobile devices over an LTE cellular network.

Even though most hotels already offer free Wi-Fi, it’s often struggling under the load of many people using it, so having a travel router can provide better performance, especially if you can plug it into a wired connection in your room. Plus, most public Wi-Fi hotspots are completely insecure, allowing your traffic to be easily intercepted by anybody else on the same Wi-Fi network. Using a router plugged into ethernet will also often save you money as you won't have to pay for the usable 'premium' internet package.

The best travel routers offer industry-standard WPA2 encryption—the same type of security used by your home router—which means that all of your wireless traffic is safe from prying eyes. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are open networks that use no encryption at all but keep in mind that if you’re using a travel router as a wireless extender for a public Wi-Fi hotspot, your traffic will still be unencrypted between your travel router and the hotspot. For the best security, use a wired connection or a VPN wherever possible.

Even if you use your travel router in your hotel room, internet traffic still travels over the hotel’s network. While most sensitive sites and services like email and online banking use SSL encryption, this won’t prevent the hotel or other public hotspot provider from seeing where you’re going; they just won’t be able to know what you’re doing. If you want to ensure your connection is as private and secure as possible, we recommend using a travel router with built-in VPN support.

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The Best Wireless Travel Routers of 2024

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