- Best VPN for Travel 2021
- What Makes a VPN the Best for Travelers
- 1. Best VPN for Travelers: ExpressVPN
- Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN
There is nary a corner of the world that hasn’t been visited by one of the team members here at Cloudwards.net. We’re all avid travelers, but as we also work while on the road, we need to be protected at all times when doing so. This is why we’re perfectly placed to let you know the best VPN for travelers.
For your money, ExpressVPN is your best bet, but read on if you’d like to know more about this subject or you’d like to find some alternatives from our best VPN roundup.
When on the road, no matter if you’re working like us or just enjoying a much-needed break from your daily toil, it pays to use a virtual private network when connecting to the internet. In short, a VPN will let you hide your IP address so you can appear to be anywhere in the world, while also encrypting your connection for added security.
There are a lot of benefits to this when you’re traveling. For one, you can watch Comcast Xfinity content online or Netflix from anywhere, which comes in handy if the finale of the show you like comes out while you’re on holiday (though you’ll need a VPN that can get past the Netflix VPN ban). It also helps if you need to do online banking, as many banks won’t allow you access with a foreign IP.
The biggest reason to use a VPN, though, is security. In many tourist hotspots around the globe, ripping off visitors is as much an industry as running a hotel or operating a restaurant. Many tourists, their guard down, don’t play close attention when connecting to public WiFi, for example, or blindly click on whatever button they can find on unfamiliar pop-ups.
On top of that, many of the most popular destinations around the world are in countries with a less-than-stellar human rights record. Internet censorship abounds, and a VPN is the easiest way to make sure you don’t run afoul of any nasty laws by accident. As you can read in our best VPN for Thailand piece, that happens more often than you think.
We talk about all this in detail in our online privacy guide, but the upshot is that a VPN works and is the best and easiest way to cover most of your security bases in one fell swoop. Let’s take a look at what makes a VPN particularly fit for use while traveling.
Best VPN for Travel 2021
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card, UnionPay, Alipay
- : 8
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Paymentwall
- : Unlimited
What Makes a VPN the Best for Travelers
There were a few core criteria we used when deciding which VPN services would be on this list and which wouldn’t make the cut. First up is the spread of servers around the globe. Note that we don’t mean the sheer number, but how they’re distributed so you’re guaranteed to always have one within a few hundred kilometers.
Second is speed. If you’re going to use your travel VPN for streaming, you need to be sure that it will also give you decent speeds. Another reason is that, especially in Asia and Africa, connections are pretty slow, so you don’t want your VPN to take too much off of that.
Third is ease of use. You want your VPN’s interface to be intuitive and easy to understand. You’re on holiday and have better things to do than fiddle with software on your down time.
You may be wondering about security, as well, but there’s no need: all our picks feature top-of-the-line VPN protocols, have kill switches and advanced encryption. Whichever one you end up going with, you can rest assured that you’re protected.
1. Best VPN for Travelers: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN stands the tallest among all our VPN reviews, and with good reason: it’s fast, easy to use and has a massive network of high-quality servers. It’s also ideal for travelers (especially if you want a secure VPN for uploading to your cloud storage).
In fact, most of the editorial team are users. We have used ExpressVPN to circumvent censorship and watch Netflix from perches as diverse as Moscow, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Amsterdam and Lisbon.
Told you we like to travel.
If you’re worried about how to get a VPN to work, ExpressVPN might be the best choice. Its interface is basically one great big button that activates the VPN, with a slightly smaller button below it so you can pick a specific server. Its options are clearly laid out, and it’s a top VPN for Mac users. Read our full ExpressVPN review to see how it works.
ExpressVPN is true to its name in that it’s the fastest VPN out there, bar none. We have tested dozens of VPN services over the past few years and ExpressVPN always comes out on top, taking no more than half of your speed at the worst of times, even if you’re connecting to a server on the other side of the globe.
Finding servers around the world is easy, too. ExpressVPN seems to have servers everywhere, and they have a high capacity, too. Unlike with other VPNs, you’ll rarely, if ever, get overloaded servers or anything like that. That said, it always pays to check out which countries you need to be able to access before signing up.
Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN also does a great job of keeping you safe while online. We’ve found it to be the most secure VPN and, probably an even bigger vote of confidence, we also recommend it as the best VPN for China. As the consequences of doing forbidden things on the internet — like expressing your opinion — in the Middle Kingdom are very real, this is a big accolade.
It also performs well with streaming, getting into all services out there, though it is occasionally outshone by competitors. Still, it’s the best VPN for streaming overall, so serial bingers need look no further.
However, all this comes at a literal price: ExpressVPN is not cheap, costing nearly $100 per year. However, that Benjamin does get you a lot of VPN, so we recommend you check it out using the 30-day money-back guarantee to see if it’s a good fit for you. You can also get an extra 3 months for free on the annual plan by using our ExpressVPN coupon.
- Very fast
- Easy to use
- Plenty of servers
Second up is NordVPN, which would have taken the pole position were it not for its speeds. The thing is, some of NordVPN’s servers are faster than ExpressVPN’s, but that’s balanced out by the fact that some are a lot slower, if they work at all.
This inconsistency dinged NordVPN really badly in our speed tests, and thus also in many of our roundup articles, like the one for the best VPN for Netflix.
Besides that, though, NordVPN is great for travelers because it has a massive network of more than 5,500 servers scattered all across the globe. You can connect from anywhere to almost anywhere because of this.
As for ease of use, we rate NordVPN a little below ExpressVPN because we simply like the one-button approach more. However, NordVPN’s graphical approach is more to the liking of some, allowing you to scroll through a world map to pick your server. As we discuss in our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN article, both approaches are effective, but it boils down to personal taste.
Other Reasons We Like NordVPN
NordVPN, like every other VPN on this list, is very secure, though we are especially big fans of the “specialty” servers, which are aimed at specific tasks, like extra security, torrenting or Onion Over VPN. These extra touches are why NordVPN is our best VPN for torrenting, among other things.
Price-wise, NordVPN is a steal at $100 for three years, making it a third cheaper than ExpressVPN, if you’re willing to subscribe for the long term. Find out whether it’s worth it by either reading our full NordVPN review or giving the service a shot for yourself. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ve nothing to lose.
- Can be fast
- Easy to use
- Speeds can be inconsistent
- Only long-term plans are cheap
Closing up the top three is CyberGhost, which is one of our favorite VPNs, but just doesn’t have the oomph to dethrone either ExpressVPN or NordVPN. This is due in part to its poor performance during speed tests, where it quite frankly disappoints. However, it has plenty of saving graces that might make it an interesting choice for globetrotters.
CyberGhost takes its own approach to its interface, opting for a Windows-style, tile-based one that will delight people who really want something they recognize. On top of that, CyberGhost does a lot less hand-holding than our other entries, guiding you to the best servers for streaming, P2P and security. Read our CyberGhost review if you’d like to know more.
As for server network, CyberGhost is well represented in Europe and North America, and a lot less so outside of it. However, the network in the Old World is extremely well developed, making CyberGhost the best VPN for Europe in a cinch. If you’re traveling to or from there, you definitely want to check out CyberGhost.
Other Reasons We Like CyberGhost
When it comes to security, CyberGhost is no slouch, allowing you to fiddle with settings to your heart’s content, but always keeping a solid baseline in the form of heavy encryption and an always-on kill switch. In fact, it’s even more customizable than ExpressVPN, which you can read all about in our ExpressVPN vs. CyberGhost battle.
Like NordVPN, CyberGhost offers a fantastic three-year deal at $100 (you can compare these plans in greater detail in our NordVPN vs. CyberGhost comparison piece). If you prefer making up your own mind, CyberGhost comes with a weeklong trial on the mobile app, as well as a 45-day money-back guarantee, so give it a spin and see if it’s for you (it’s easy to get a refund from CyberGhost if you change your mind).
- Friendly interface
- Good EU network
- Interface is tile-based
In fourth place we find VPNArea, which does everything in our criteria well, but lags behind a bit in all, compared to the providers that made it into the top three. For instance, it offers a decent network with a good spread, but nothing like that of NordVPN or even CyberGhost.
Read our VPNArea review for the details.
However, VPNArea does beat CyberGhost when it comes to speed, doing a lot better in our tests while maintaining high security (for a provider where the high speeds are a result of poor security, read our Hotspot Shield review). Though it’s no ExpressVPN, it’s still pretty damn fast.
When it comes to ease of use, VPNArea is a very pleasant service. It offers a great overview, and its setting are clearly laid out. The worst thing we can say about it is that finding a server involves a lot of scrolling, as the team behind it opted for a very basic, old-school type UI, but it’s nothing to cry over, either.
Other Reasons We Like VPNArea
VPNArea’s security is good, offering standard protocols and encryption keys, so no worries there, though we’re not sure if it’s safe to use behind the Great Firewall. It comes with special servers for several activities, like torrenting, double VPN connections and all, so you’re covered on that end.
As you can tell, VPNArea is a very middle-of-the-road provider, which is reflected in its modest price of $60 per year. That doesn’t quite make it a budget option, but it is very fairly priced for such a good VPN. Sorrowfully enough, there are no multi-year options, but you do get a 30-day refund period to try it out with. We recommend giving it a shot.
- Small-ish server network
- UI is a bit dated
In fifth place we find Windscribe, probably the best budget option for those among you who aim to stay on the road as long as possible with limited money (though you should read our Windscribe vs. NordVPN piece, too). However, this comes at a price, as we found the interface a little annoying when putting together our Windscribe review, barring this VPN from rising any further up this ranking.
When it comes to server spread, Windscribe is also just okay. It has plenty of servers in a few dozen locations, which stands in shrill contrast to the thousands that some of the other VPNs in this list boast. However, it should serve you well, especially considering Windscribe’s friendly pricing.
When it comes to speeds, though, Windscribe is very attractive. Though it’s no Express, it still beat CyberGhost with ease during our speed tests and should stand you in good stead wherever you may roam.
Adding to its accomplishments is the fact that Windscribe is one of the rare services that made it onto our best VPN for Hulu ranking, and you have yourself a contender.
Other Reasons We Like Windscribe
Security-wise, Windscribe ticks all the right boxes, though its reliance on IKEv2 as its standard protocol raised some eyebrows at Cloudwards HQ, at first. However, this is easily fixed in the settings menu, and you’ll be securely browsing along before you know it. Its friendly security is one of the reasons it made it onto our best VPN for Ireland list.
Windscribe’s biggest selling point, however, is its easy-on-the-wallet price, which should make it ideal for backpacking college students. It comes with a generous free plan, allowing you 10GB of bandwidth per month, which should be enough for most of your browsing needs and is more than what TunnelBear’s free plan gets you (read our Windscribe vs. TunnelBear comparison).
Additionally, upgrading it costs just $50 per year. We recommend you give it a whirl; it’s free, after all.
- Free plan
- Interface is meh
- Network is small
Besides these five, we also found two other services that may benefit users on the go, though both have some issues barring them from mainstream use.
First up is TorGuard, which is a good service that has lightning-fast speeds and a great network. On top of its regular network, you can also buy yourself a few extra IPs, which will come in handy for serious professionals that want to work while on the road. TorGuard tops our list of best VPN with dedicated IPs, so check it out if that sounds like something you want.
Now for the downside: TorGuard is a pain to use unless you know what you’re doing. As we explain in detail in our TorGuard review, if you don’t like fiddling with tech, give this VPN service a wide berth. However, if you’re the type that likes to toggle switches, you may want to give TorGuard’s weeklong refund a try.
However, we’re including it because no other service has cast its network net as wide as HideMyAss has. It seems to have servers almost everywhere, making it ideal for people that travel or need to spoof their location to all kinds of weird places.
For example, it’s our only entry in our guide on getting a Yemeni IP address. If this sounds like what you need, it offers a weeklong free trial.
Traveling is fun and probably the best way to expand your mind without turning to illegal or dangerous substances. However, it comes with some unique dangers, the online versions of which you can easily avoid by using a VPN.
Any of the above VPN services will protect you while on the road, and do so well. ExpressVPN is our top pick, but the others will do you well, too.
We hope you found our guide useful, and that you found everything you were looking for. What is your best VPN for travelers? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.