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Most travelers want to go online regularly while traveling to check e-mail, get directions, check hotel and restaurant reviews, upload photos, update social media, and keep in touch with people back home. Travel routers can help with this.
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Wireless Internet is now widely available in most parts of the world, so it’s certainly easy to stay connected, but there are many situations where it’s difficult (or expensive) to stay connected.
As travel bloggers who often have to manage our business while on the go, it’s very important for us to be able to get online regularly while traveling, which can be very frustrating when staying in a hotel with weak Wi-Fi. , we are restricted from using multiple devices on one internet connection, or we want more security when using an unsecured public hotspot.
A travel router is a small device that solves these common internet problems and offers many features for on-the-go travelers who want to stay connected. In this post, we’re going to go through some of the best travel router options available in the market today based on real-world testing and personal experiences, so you can choose the right option for you.
If you are new to travel routers, also known as portable Wi-Fi routers, this section will help you understand what they do and whether or not they are suitable for your travels.
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We understand that much of the terminology can be somewhat opaque, so Lawrence has used his years of experience as a software engineer to explain everything you need to know.
A travel router is a wireless range extender designed for people on the go. It also performs the functions of a wireless access point.
Just as you use a home Wi-Fi router to connect your devices to the Internet at home, you may also want to consider having a portable router to use while traveling.
Different wireless travel routers have different features, but the main feature is that they extend the range of existing wireless Internet networks. For example, if you’re in a hotel with a weak wireless signal that makes it difficult to connect to your laptop or phone, a travel router can boost the signal so you can connect more easily.
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Travel routers range in price from about $20 to $130, although more expensive models with more features are available. We recommend that most people look at the $30 to $70 range, as this will work for most users.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can get a decent travel router for around $30. See our recommended travel router list later in the article; They are listed by retail price. But beware of cheap ones as they may not work as advertised.
If you want a travel router that acts as a mobile hotspot or has other special features, you’ll pay extra. Some of these can be upwards of $200.
There are many travel routers on the market today, ranging in price and features. All the models below will make a good choice, the model you choose will depend on your budget and the features you need.
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We use the Netgear Nighthawk M1 on some trips when we need internet access as it primarily acts as a mobile hotspot, but it can also be used as a travel router.
This is the first of a few GL.iNet routers we recommend in this post. We love them for many reasons. First, they are based on OpenWRT software, a Linux-based operating system that receives regular updates. GL.iNet keeps on top of regular firmware updates so routers stay secure and get new features. Unfortunately it’s not as common as you might think, but it’s very important to keep your devices safe.
For example, the GL.iNet routers we list have all been upgraded to include support for the latest wireless security standard, WPA3. Regular updates and support for new features is definitely a plus when it comes to a travel router, which means it will be more future proof.
While this all sounds technical, the good news is that unless you’re an advanced user, you don’t really need to worry about it. The tools have a simple interface, are easy to set up, and upgrades are a one-click option. If you want to dive into more advanced options, you can, but the tool works best with setup via a simple web interface.
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All GL.iNet routers on our list support all VPN credentials (see why you need a VPN for travel here). This means if you have a VPN account for more secure browsing like NordVPN, all your devices will connect through it when using this device.
The MT300N-V2 model, also known as the Mango, is one of the more entry-level options in terms of price and features, but if you’re looking for a small device that can do everything you need on the go. Router, this is a great option.
You get 300Mbps 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi support, WPA2 and WPA3 support and two 100 Mbps Ethernet ports for wired network sharing. It is also very privacy oriented. Along with the aforementioned VPN support, it also provides built-in support for Cloudflare’s DNS over TLS. This basically means that your internet connection will be very secure and difficult for anyone to snoop on.
Another great feature is that if you have a smartphone or 3G/4G data dongle with tethering support, you can plug this smartphone into the USB 2 port on this router and share the phone’s data over the router’s Wi-Fi network.
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The device is powered by USB, so it can be powered by any USB power source, including a power bank or smartphone charger.
Reviews are positive and it’s a great price for a travel router that weighs 1.41oz and supports 300Mbps. It’s not as fully featured as some of the other options, especially since it only works on the 2.4GHz band, and the Ethernet ports are 100Mbit rather than gigabit. However, this won’t make much of a difference to most users.
If you’re after a lightweight great value travel router with VPN support, this is a solid option.
It weighs just 2oz, is powered by USB and supports the 802.11ac standard offering speeds of up to 433Mbps. We’re not sure this speed will make much of a difference in the real world, as you’re always limited by the speed of the network you’re connected to, and it’s nice to have.
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It also has a USB port where you can connect a USB drive for file sharing or charging a smartphone or other USB powered device. There is also a 100Mbps Ethernet port. It doesn’t have a built-in battery, so it needs to be powered from a USB battery pack or a wall adapter.
It’s definitely an option if you’re looking for a small travel router at a good price, but be aware that the software isn’t updated as frequently as the GL-iNet, and it lacks many features like VPN support.
If you’re after a travel router with fewer features and better functionality, the RAVPower Filehub AC750 is a good choice. It may also allow you to replace some of the other equipment you normally travel with and pack less.
Besides offering a fast 433Mbps network with support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, this device has a 6700mah battery so it runs without the need for power and can also be used to charge your devices.
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It also has an SD card reader and USB port so you can transfer files from memory cards to your hard drives or computer. It also has media serving capabilities compatible with DLNA, although it doesn’t have built in VPN support.
The latter means you can turn on your movies, plug in a hard drive or memory card and stream them directly to your TV, laptop or mobile phone. It has a lot of functionality for the price and weighs less than 7 ounces!
Price: Check the latest price on the company’s website here. Also available on Amazon as the NewQ FileHub 750.
The GL.iNet AR750, also known as the Slate, is a more advanced version of the previously listed GL.iNet MT300. It’s a bit more expensive, but you get a few more features.
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First, it supports 300Mbps as well as 433Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band.