Staying connected when you’re traveling is important. The internet lets you stay in touch with your friends and family, share your adventures online, and plan the rest of your trip. Unfortunately, as many travelers have learned, wifi isn’t always available. Even when it is there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be anywhere suitable enough for a reliable connection.
These days all of the devices we travel with connect to the net so it’s more important than ever before to be able to access the internet with as few issues as possible.
Why You Should Travel with a Travel Router
Apart from reading reviews it’s difficult to tell in advance if the internet is going to be any good.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a travel blogger or someone who just likes to spend a lot of time online then you’re not going to have as good of a trip if the internet isn’t good.
What is a Travel Router Exactly?
A travel router is basically just a regular broadband router that is designed for people that are traveling to help them connect to the internet with their mobile devices.
They work by making it easier for multiple devices to connect to the web and they enable you to avoid paying extra fees if you want to make additional connections to same wifi or internet network.
When you use a travel router you’ll connect it to the wifi of wherever you’re staying, visiting or you’ll connect it directly to a wired broadband connection.
After making the connection the router will create its own wireless network that’s private and secure that you’re able to access with a variety of different electronic mobile devices.
Apart from that you’re also able to share this connection with anyone you’re traveling with so you don’t have to pay a separate fee before each connection you make, you simply share the one that your router has made.
One more great thing about traveling with these portable routers is that many of them come with USB ports that allow you to connect a portable hard drive which gives you the ability to stream media or share your files over the same network.
This is great if you want to share photos or videos that you’ve taken among all the people you’re traveling with.
There are a few specific features that make a broadband router a travel router instead of just a regular one that you would use in your home.
These features include:
A Compact Size
Seeing as they’re designed for traveling with, travel routers take on a more compact size and are typically small enough to easily fit into your backpack or pocket.
They are usually designed to be easy to travel with and convenient to carry so that you’re not having to fumble around with something too big or bulky just to get connected online.
Battery or USB Powered
Although there are wide range of different options available some of the best travel routers come with a built-in rechargeable battery so that it’s able to be used for an extended period of time without having to be recharged or plugged in.
Some of the other more popular ones come with a USB connection instead rather than relying on battery power.
The way that these routers work and how they give you an online connection is through a tethered connection using 3G or 4G mobile data.
Some of the better models actually come with a built-in cellular modem so that you don’t have to tether it to your phone or mobile device and you can use it on its own.
With some of the basics out of the way let’s take a look at my recommendations when it comes to the best portable travel routers that you can use when you’re traveling domestically or abroad.
The Best Travel Routers
The HooToo Wireless Travel Router
The HooToo Wireless Travel Router is one of the first options I stumbled onto during my search for a router to use to stay connected abroad.
Not only do I find it suitable to use as a mini travel router but it also gives me the ability to use it as an external battery pack to keep my travel gear completely charged and gives me secure internet access so I can surf the web when I’m at a hotel or hostel without worrying about my privacy.
With this router I’m able to choose from three different modes depending on what it is I’m looking for:
- AP Mode
- Router Mode
- Bridge Mode
AP Mode is what I use when I’m staying in a hotel that doesn’t have any wireless connection and instead offers a direct broadband connection through an ethernet cable. I simply plug it into the HooToo and take advantage of the internet from there.
Router Mode is what I use when I’m looking to connect and pair and modem with it so that I can access the internet from any of my other mobile devices.
Bridge Mode is especially great when I’m traveling with anyone else because it allows me to split any of the available internet networks into two or more connections so that I’m able to share the Wi-Fi without having to pay for an additional connection fee.
I really love the streamlined design of this router and I find that it’s lightweight, portable and barely takes up any space in my backpack.
Charging it is straightforward, you simply plug in the included USB cable into either a USB wall outlet or into the USB port of your computer to get it fully charged and ready to use.
This is the router I chose to travel with so I was able to not only use it as a powerbank to keep my smartphone and camera charge but also to use to save money on paying for additional wireless connections as well as using in less updated hotels that only offer a direct wired connection.
I also love it for sharing files with friends or other travelers I meet abroad and it makes it a lot easier to get photos or videos without having to fiddle with any other file transfer method.
The D-Link Systems AC750 Portable Router and Charger
With the D-Link Systems AC750 Portable Router and Charger you’re able to:
- Create a wifi hotspot so that you can share it with other people you’re traveling with
- Avoid paying additional fees for connecting multiple devices
- Turn a public hotspot into a wifi network that’s private and secure
- Share your photos or videos over the same wireless network.
Another great feature that I love about this router is that it comes with a built-in 4000 mAh battery that can be recharged and will give you the ability to charge any of the other devices you’re traveling with like a smartphone or tablet.
This router doesn’t only support wifi connections but it can be used on both 3G and 4G mobile networks so you’re able to stay connected without wifi and just if your smartphone has its own cellular network connection.
Finally, there is a built-in USB port that you can use to plug in a USB thumb drive or your own portable hard drive so that you can access any of the photo, video or other digital content that you want to bring with you abroad using even just your smartphone or a variety of other digital devices.
NETGEAR Trek N300 Travel Router
The NETGEAR Trek N300 Travel Router is another nifty little router I’d recommend checking out if you’re looking for one to travel with so that you can hopefully enjoy a better internet connection.
With the Trek N300 you’re able to avoid having to pay for multiple device access fees when you’re traveling and you’re also able to take advantage of a private and secure hotspot connection.
There are four different modes that this router offers:
- Router Mode
- Extender Mode
- Hotspot Mode
- Bridge Mode
Router Mode allows you to turn any ethernet connection into a secure and personal hotspot.
Extender Mode finds existing wireless networks and makes an effort to extend and improve the signal so that you’re able to take advantage of more consistent and reliable coverage.
Hotspot Mode helps to give you a better public wifi signal and makes the public wifi networks more available for you to connect to.
Bridge Mode you can use to connect wired only devices and also access them wirelessly.
To keep this router power you can choose from a variety of different power sources including a wall plug, power bank or just simply power it from a USB port. It’s nice to have these options because you’re able to choose a specific power source depending on where you’re traveling and what’s available for you at the time.
There’s also a neat external antenna that you can pop up and then extend if you want to take advantage of a better signal. When you’re using the antenna there are LED lights that will turn green and give you a status update on the power, internet, wifi and USB connectivity.
Up above I mentioned about having a battery powered router is ideal but I really don’t mind having one that plugs into the wall because it’s great to use when you don’t have any USB power or access to a laptop and you just want to use your smartphone to connect to the web.
Belkin Travel Dual Band Wireless Router
The Belkin Travel Dual Band Wireless Router is one that I would recommend checking out if you’re looking to access the net using a fast, secure and reliable network while you’re abroad and connecting to random wired internet networks.
This router has actually been built with security in mind and features advanced preset security settings that give you added security and encryption when you’re accessing unsecured wireless networks when you’re traveling.
Using the Belkin Travel Dual Band you’ll be able to enjoy internet speeds of up to 300Mbps and higher depending on the strength and distance to the network you’re connecting to.
Other than that it’s easy to configure and you can get everything going in just a short period of time. You just need to connect the router to a power source and then plug in the ethernet cord into the back for the wifi connection to start working.
This is an option I’d recommend if you’re traveling to hotels where you won’t be able to access that many wireless connections or if you’re looking to improve the quality of your connection if you’re staying somewhere that only gives you wired broadband.
For traveling, this router comes with a nifty little travel case so you can keep it secured in one place when you’re in transit.
Satechi Smart Travel Router
The Satechi Smart Travel Router is what I would recommend for you to check out if you’re doing a lot of international traveling.
It comes with four different network modes:
- Access Point
The Router mode will split an existing wifi connection so that more than one device is able to connect to it and use the web without having to pay any extra fees for additional devices.
The Repeater mode amplifies and extends the range of an existing network and this is great to use if you have a poor wifi connection in your room or if you’re not in a close distance to the dedicated router at your accommodation.
The Access Point mode you can use to create your own wireless connection from a wired connection. For this there will have to be an ethernet cable available for you to connect to and you can then turn the router into a wifi hotspot for other devices to use.
The Client mode can be used to connect your mobile devices to a gaming console or a smart TV using an ethernet cable (although this isn’t needed as much for traveling).
Using this router you’ll be able to enjoy up to 150 Mbps of speed through a suitable wireless network but the speed depends on the overall quality of the signal and the specific network you’re connecting to.
Finally, one of my favorite features is that it comes with some charging capabilities so you can recharge any of the mobile devices that you’re traveling with.
There is actually a slider on the side that you can change depending on whether you’re traveling in the UK, Europe or US/Australia for the related plug setup.