Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best travel VPNs to stay safe and access your favorite content

A good VPN offers privacy and security for your laptop and mobile devices when you're on the road or working abroad. These are the top picks.

When you're commuting or working abroad, you shouldn't leave security and privacy behind at home.

A travel VPN can keep your data safe and give you peace of mind when you're on the go. A VPN can be especially critical during travel when you connect to different Wi-Fi routers and don't know who else is using it. 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's 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 your financial information or login credentials exposed or stolen.

However, 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 or investigated. 

The service you use at home may be great for streaming movies, but VPNs can serve a much more serious purpose abroad. I've researched and rounded up the best travel VPNs to help you find the top option for keeping your connections safe and secure. 

Also: The best VPN trials

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

ExpressVPN features: Servers: 160 server locations, 94 countries | Simultaneous connections: Up to five | 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, making it useful for traveling, especially when you're 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.

Also: The best VPN services

A key advantage of ExpressVPN is the private DNS it runs on every VPN server regarding travel. That means 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, because requests are protected automatically without exposure to third parties.

ExpressVPN's privacy policy clearly outlines what information it collects. It doesn't log data 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. You can also opt for $9.99 per month for six months, or $12.95 for one month of access. The 12-month plan now also includes a year of free cloud backup, courtesy of Backblaze.

Pros & Cons
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Over 3,200 servers
  • No logs
  • Average speeds
  • Uncompetitive prices for monthly, one-year plans
More Details

Surfshark VPN features: 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, although speed was 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 you use the service and offers private DNS capabilities and what Surfshark calls 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.

Review: Surfshark VPN: Unlimited connections make it a solid value pick

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 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. The VPN costs $2.30 per month for a two-year subscription plan, and $3.99 per month for a one-year subscription. Alternatively, you can sign up for one month for $12.95. You are billed for the complete package at the time of sign-up. For an exclusive offer, you can get two free months.

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

NordVPN features: Servers: 5,000+, 60 countries | Simultaneous connections: Six | 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 had a fast and reliable connection. NordVPN's performance was generally consistent across a wide range of test situations. So if you're traveling, you can likely depend on 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 major platforms and has additional browser plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Also: The cheapest VPNs

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

The subscription cost can be considered expensive outside of sales events. You can select between Complete, Plus, and Standard, the difference being access to a password manager, data breach scanner, or encrypted cloud storage service. NordVPN subscriptions are priced at a two-year subscription, one-year subscription, and monthly subscription basis.

Prices start from $3.29 per month on a Standard two-year plan to $15.69 per month on a Complete one-month subscription. A one-year plan begins at $4.59. At the time of writing, NordVPN is running a promotion for new subscribers. If you sign up for the two-year plan on any tier, you'll receive three free months of VPN access added to the length of the contract.

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

IPVanish VPN features: 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.

Review: IPVanish: A VPN with a wealth of options

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. The user interface is bare-bones, in my opinion, but is easy to use and lays out speed statistics, country options, and more in an easy-to-use format.

IPVanish offers a discounted plan for $2.96/month if you commit for two years. This increases to $3.33/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.

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, reliable connection and offers top-notch security features, such as private DNS. 

While I've tested many VPN services, I have used ExpressVPN exclusively on my travel laptop -- and I have yet to be convinced to switch. I've also found it to be reliable for streaming services, no matter where I am in the world.

It supports the most popular mobile platforms as well as a wide range of other platforms and devices. 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/monthYesFive160 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 $3.29/monthYesSix5,000+ servers, 60 countriesWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox, EdgeNo activity logs30 days
IPVanish VPNStarts at $2.96/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 best travel VPN for you will strike 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. 

However, my top VPN, ExpressVPN, isn't the cheapest, and there may be other functionalities like unlimited device connections that influence your decision.

Choose this travel VPN...

If you need...


A massive server network. ExpressVPN has an extensive server network, so you'll likely have access to local servers during travel.

Surfshark or IPVanish

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


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


A reliable and highly configurable VPN. IPVanish 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?

I looked at a list of different metrics to rank the best travel VPNs, including ping speeds, encryption, platform compatibility, and the number of servers each service has worldwide. 

Also, I ensured every pick offers strong security, so your data will not be visible while using the program, and certain features (like a kill switch) are included. I 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 a virtual private network. These services allow users to browse the internet privately and to securely connect to public Wi-Fi networks with a layer of protection that masks 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. 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. 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 you travel. 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.

A VPN is useful when you have to rely on public internet hotspots, such as those made available at hotels. While you should avoid using them as much as possible for security reasons, if you have no other option, a VPN will help protect your privacy.

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 several 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 a U.S. citizen, you may wish to consider contacting the U.S. State Department. 

It lists travel advisories for U.S. 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 United States.

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. Of course, there are also normal travel security issues, like being careful what you spend, how you handle cash, who you trust, and so on that could carry risks during travel.

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 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, 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 I've highlighted in our best travel VPNs list aren't a good fit for you, there are other reputable options 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.



Proton VPN - A free, limited version

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

View at ProtonVPN


Atlas VPN - $2.05 monthly

Atlas VPN offers a free limited version and a premium version with access to servers in over 30 countries

View at AtlasVPN


VyprVPN - $4.50 per month

VyprVPN's Chameleon protocol helps you bypass internet restrictions and provides additional security.

View at VyprVPN

Best price

PureVPN - $2.08 per month, free password manager

PureVPN is a solid choice while you're abroad. To try it out, you can take advantage of a 31-day money-back guarantee. 

View at PureVPN
Editorial standards