Best VPN for Travel in 2023: Paid & Free VPN Services for the Whole World
If you’re like most travelers, you want to stay safe online, unblock the streaming services you like with ease and access online content from back home. Below, we cover the five best VPNs to help you achieve this.
Every year, millions of people head out to different parts of the world, eager to explore and experience new things. While these adventures can be exciting, you’ll also have to deal with your favorite content being blocked in the country you’re visiting, slow and frustrating streaming speeds, and connecting to unsecured public WiFi.
- The best VPNs for travel have strong security and good speeds, and can bypass geoblocks on popular streaming services.
- The top five VPNs for travel are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost and Windscribe.
- ExpressVPN has an impressive list of reliable, fast and secure servers around the world.
A VPN can help take care of all these issues so that you can enjoy your time away from home. In this guide, we discuss the five best VPNs for travel and the special features each one has that makes it ideal for travelers. Spoiling things a little, ExpressVPN is the best overall, but there are plenty of good options, including ones that won’t cost you a dime.
11/04/2022 Facts checked
Updated to reflect changes in features and pricing.
You should always use a VPN when traveling. A VPN will help you stay safe, stream content from your desired country and bypass geoblocks.
We found that ExpressVPN performs best in giving you a reliable service with all the features you need for travel.
You need a VPN with reliable servers in different countries. Before traveling, check that the provider you’re considering has servers in the region you’ll be visiting, or your home country if you want to access content from back home.
Top VPNs for Travel
Average speedDownload Speed91 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency7 ms$6.66 / month(save 48%)(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
- : 5
Average speedDownload Speed93 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency3 ms$3.49 / month(save 70%)(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed96 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency168 ms$2.49 / month(save 80%)(All Plans) 30-days money-back guarantee
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed73 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency48 ms$2.37 / month(save 81%)(All Plans) 45-days money-back guarantee
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
Average speedDownload Speed93 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency3 ms$5.75 / month(save 36%)(All Plans) 3-days money-back guarantee
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
What Makes the Best VPN for Travel
Before we discuss all the important features a VPN needs to have while you’re traveling, here’s a look at our top five choices for the job.
- ExpressVPN — Great network of reliable servers worldwide, strong security and fast speeds
- NordVPN — Good speeds and security
- Surfshark — Budget-friendly with good speeds
- CyberGhost — Beginner-friendly interface
- Windscribe — Unlimited simultaneous connections and solid security
When you’re traveling, you might find that your favorite streaming service is blocked in your current location. A good VPN allows you to bypass geoblocks and access content from anywhere in the world.
A VPN also encrypts your internet traffic, making it nearly impossible for hackers to intercept your information. This is especially important if you’re traveling, as you are more likely to connect to unsecured public WiFi networks. A great VPN also needs to have mobile apps for different types of devices so that you can get all the benefits you need while on the go.
In addition, a VPN with fast speeds is essential because it allows you to stream without buffering. It also has to have features like a kill switch and split tunneling. A kill switch helps to protect your data if your VPN connection drops, while split tunneling helps you choose which apps should use the VPN and which can connect directly to the internet.
The 5 Best Travel VPN Services
The following VPNs are excellent choices for traveling and they have all the above-mentioned features. Here’s a closer look at each one.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: $6.66 per month (15-months plan)
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- Vast server network
- Fast speeds
- Bypasses geo-restrictions
There are many reasons why ExpressVPN is ideal for traveling. It has a kill switch, which kicks in whenever the VPN connection is lost, ensuring your data is always protected. It also has split tunneling, which allows you to send some of your internet traffic through a VPN while letting the rest go directly to your ISP.
ExpressVPN offers a fast and reliable connection, and is one of the fastest VPNs, thanks in part to its open-source Lightway protocol. If you’re on Mac, Linux, or iPhone, it also has an ad and malware blocker that prevents you from opening malicious websites. Plus, ExpressVPN is unmatched in its ability to unblock streaming sites, so you can access content from back home without a hassle.
Travel Safely Anywhere
Additionally, you can use ExpressVPN to bypass government censorship and firewalls, thanks to its obfuscated servers. This is especially useful if you’re traveling to a country with internet restrictions, such as China or Iran (read our best VPN for Iran guide). By connecting to a VPN server in another country, you can circumvent these restrictions and browse the internet as you wish. You can read more about its features in our detailed review.
ExpressVPN is the most expensive VPN on our list, costing $12.95 per month for the monthly plan. Thankfully, you can save some money with the annual plan, which works out to $6.66 per month. ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out risk free.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: $3.49 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- Easy to use
- Good security features
- Unblocks streaming services
- Inconsistent speeds
NordVPN is the fastest VPN on the market, and one of the most secure as well. The interface is straightforward and simple to navigate, and the service offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of customization and features. You can read our full NordVPN review to learn more about the provider.
NordVPN’s “presets” tab helps you select from a variety of preconfigured options to find the best connection for your needs. For example, you can set it up so that you can instantly connect to a U.S. server and be able to watch your favorite shows from Netflix USA.
Specialty Servers for Any Occasion
NordVPN offers a variety of server types, including standard servers, double VPN servers and obfuscated servers. Standard servers are the most common and encrypt your traffic, so your data stays safe. Double VPN servers encrypt your traffic twice for extra security, while obfuscated servers bypass firewalls, which can be very useful if you travel to a country with strict internet restrictions and VPN blocks.
NordVPN is a bit more affordable than ExpressVPN, though its monthly cost is still high at $11.99 per month. At $4.99 per month, its one-year plan is about the same cost as ExpressVPN’s, but you get the most savings from the two-year plan as it amounts to $3.49 per month. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, so you can try it out with confidence.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: surfshark.com
- Good speeds
- Unblocks streaming services
- Some servers lack torrenting
- Inconsistent speeds in U.S. servers
Surfshark offers many features that make it ideal for traveling. For example, it has a split-tunneling feature that allows you to specify which apps should not be routed through the VPN. This is useful for travelers who need to access banking apps or anything else that requires a direct connection to the internet.
In addition, Surfshark has a “NoBorders Mode,” designed to bypass internet censorship and restrictions. If you travel to a country with heavy internet restrictions, you’ll get access to NoBorders servers, which can bypass them. NoBorders Mode is also effective at bypassing firewalls and other forms of internet filtering.
CleanWeb blocks ads, trackers and malware, and it also provides a secure tunnel for your traffic. It also blocks ads in all apps and on mobile — not just browsers — to help you stay safe while on the go. You can learn more about Surfshark from our full review.
Like our two previous picks, Surfshark’s monthly plan is expensive, at $12.95 per month. However, subscribing for longer makes it one of the most affordable VPN providers. It works out to just $3.99 per month for a full year’s subscription, and the two-year plan costs only $2.49 per month. Surfshark also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for you to get a full refund if you’re unhappy with the service.
More details about CyberGhost:
- Pricing: $2.37 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: cyberghostvpn.com
- Very easy to use
- 7 simultaneous connections
- Affordable long-term plans
- Inconsistent speeds
CyberGhost has all the standard VPN features, like a kill switch and split tunneling, while adding some advanced ones. For example, its specialty servers are tailored to unblock specific streaming platforms. While it has impressive features, unfortunately, during our speed tests, we found CyberGhost disappointing. But it’s still a good VPN, and you can learn more about CyberGhost from our review.
The VPN’s desktop apps have four different VPN protocol options (OpenVPN, WireGuard L2TP, and IKEv2). You can choose between the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols for the mobile apps. If you’re not sure which protocol best meets your needs, check out our guide on VPN protocols.
NoSpy Servers to Keep Your Data Safe
One of the main benefits of CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers is that they are physically located in Romania, which has strong privacy laws. This means your data is better protected from snooping by government agencies or other third parties. In addition, CyberGhost operates some of their servers directly, which means that your data is not passing through any third-party infrastructure.
CyberGhost costs $12.99 per month. It has a 6-month plan that amounts to $6.99 per month. However, its best deal is the two-year plan (two years, plus two months), which costs $2.37 per month, not counting the two free months.
All plans have a 45-day money-back guarantee, except for the monthly plan, which limits the refund period to 14 days. Read our ExpressVPN vs CyberGhost guide to learn how CyberGhost compares to our top pick.
More details about Windscribe:
- Pricing: 15GB Free; $5.75 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: windscribe.com
- Cheap plans
- Has a free plan
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Small server network
- Interface isn’t user-friendly
Windscribe is the only VPN on our list with a free plan. This makes it ideal if you’re planning to travel a lot and want a budget-friendly provider. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the ability to stand side by side with some of the best VPNs in the market. For example, Windscribe is reliable and offers both speed and unblocking capabilities. It also has a kill switch that protects your data if the VPN connection drops
From our speed tests, we found Windscribe to be one of the best for close-range connections. It did not, however, perform great over long distances, which means it might not be ideal for distant trips. Another letdown is Windscribe’s interface. It can be very frustrating and may take a while to wrap your head around.
Nonetheless, the provider has other helpful features that we discuss in length in our Windscribe review.
Protect Your Family on the Road
Windscribe’s “share” feature lets you create a VPN-protected WiFi hotspot. With it enabled, your whole family or friend group can stay safe without having to install Windscribe on their own devices.
Windscribe’s free plan comes with a generous 15GB of data per month. Upgrading it will cost $9 per month, or $5.75 per month on the annual plan. You can also create a custom plan for a minimum of $3 per month with your choice of servers. Unlike the previous providers, Windscribe has a three-day refund window, though the free plan should compensate for that.
- Up to 15 GB free with email confirmation and Tweet
- Unlimited GB
Why You Should Use a VPN for Travel
Whether you’re checking email at an internet cafe in Bangkok or logging in to your bank account from a WiFi hotspot in Madrid, it’s essential to use a VPN whenever you connect to the internet while traveling.
A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, ensuring that your personal information is safe from hackers and identity thieves. In addition, a VPN can help you to access websites that may be blocked in your current location. For example, if you’re trying to access Facebook from China, a VPN can help bypass the government’s content restrictions.
Can You Use a Free Travel VPN?
While there are many reputable paid VPN providers, it is also possible to find free travel VPNs. However, free VPNs often have limitations, such as slower speeds, data caps and unreliable connections. As a result, it is essential to do your research before choosing a free travel VPN.
From the VPNs we mentioned above, Windscribe has a good free plan, although it does come with a 10GB data cap (and 15GB if you tweet about it). You can use our list of the best free VPNs to weigh the pros and cons to see which VPN will best suit your needs.
For many of us, traveling is an essential part of our work. Whether catching a flight to a client meeting or taking a train to a sales conference, we rely on our laptops and smartphones to stay connected. Some people travel just for the experience and love to connect with different people and cultures worldwide.
No matter which category you fall under, a VPN will protect your sensitive data, regardless of the country you plan to visit. Overall, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost and Windscribe are great options. ExpressVPN, in particular, has incredible speeds, security and more special features that make it our number one choice for a travel VPN.