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When traveling for work, you’d think that bringing your work laptop around and using it like normal would be harmless. However, using your company-issued machine while traveling may pose some unexpected blockers.

For example, connecting to an unprotected public Wi-Fi network in a coffee shop may put sensitive company data at risk. If you’re on a business trip, you may find that certain sites you regularly visit for work are geo-blocked. These are some of the challenges employees face when working on the go.

This is where virtual private networks, or VPNs, come in. VPNs are software that encrypt your online activity and adjust your IP address, protecting sensitive company data and allowing you to access geo-restricted content at the same time.

In this article, we take a look at the five best VPNs for travelers.

Top VPNs for travelers comparison

Since we’re looking at the best VPNs for travel, server locations and the number of servers offered by a VPN will affect your experience the most.

The number of allowed device connections is another important factor, especially if your business trip requires more than one device to be protected via a VPN.

Number of servers Server locations Simultaneous device connections Main advantage for travelers Starting price
(1-year plan)
NordVPN 6,123 61 countries 6 Overall reliability and security $4.99 per month
Astrill VPN Around 300 119 cities in 58 countries 5 Works in China $15 per month
Express VPN 3,000 servers (reported) 105 countries 8 Servers in 47 European countries $8.32 per month
Proton VPN 3,860 servers 85 countries; 5 countries for free version 10 for paid; 1 for free version Free version with unlimited data $5.99 per month
Surfshark 3,200 servers 100 countries Unlimited Affordable paid plans $3.99 per month

NordVPN: Best overall VPN for travelers

NordVPN logo.
Image: NordVPN

If you want the best overall VPN for traveling, I highly recommend NordVPN. NordVPN brings a compelling set of features tailored for frequent business travelers: an extensive 6,000+ server network spread across 61 countries, strong AES-256 encryption that keeps company data protected and a good reputation in terms of connection speed and reliability.

It also has Threat Protection that blocks malware and ads, no matter your location. I personally like NordVPN’s independently audited no-logs policy. This ensures business users that Nord doesn’t record or store any sensitive data or information related to their company.

Why we chose NordVPN

We picked NordVPN as the best overall VPN choice because of its solid quality across all its features. It has a strong emphasis on security, a large enough server network and good user feedback regarding its VPN connection.

I personally like NordVPN’s wide range of specialized security servers such as their Double VPN, obfuscated servers and P2P servers.

NordVPN server map.
Figure A: NordVPN server map. Image: Luis Millares

Pricing

NordVPN has three tiers: Standard, Plus and Complete. Standard includes only its basic VPN service, while Plus includes a data breach scanner and the NordPass password manager. Complete has all Plus features with an additional 1TB of encrypted cloud storage space.

All three tiers have monthly, one-year and two-year plans. Here’s an overview of prices for the three tiers for a one-year contract:

  • NordVPN Standard: $4.99 per month.
  • NordVPN Plus: $5.99 per month.
  • NordVPN Complete: $6.99 per month.

Features

  • 6,000+ servers across 61 countries.
  • AES-256 encryption.
  • Specialized security servers.
  • Threat protection against malware and ads.
  • Dark Web Monitor.

Pros

  • Independently audited no-logs policy.
  • Consistently fast and stable VPN speeds.
  • 7-day free trial via Android.

Cons

  • No free version.
  • Only allows for six simultaneous device connections.

In our hands-on review, NordVPN received a score of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Astrill VPN: Best VPN for travelers to China

Astrill VPN logo.
Image: Astrill VPN

Travelers going to China should check out Astrill VPN. Astrill VPN has become a go-to pick for overcoming the Great Firewall of China — and for good reason. While many VPNs advertise functionality in China, Astrill is one of the few that’s been confirmed to actually work.

This means that users who have business trips in China will be able to access western domains like Dropbox, LinkedIn or YouTube. In contrast, other VPN options seem to have issues keeping a connection despite having servers in the country.

Given the unpredictability of China’s internet regulations, hit-or-miss VPN performance isn’t a shock. But if you need a reliable VPN for your business while in China, Astrill VPN is a no-brainer. Just keep in mind that it is a bit more expensive compared to other available VPNs.

Why we chose Astrill VPN

Astrill VPN made this list for its reliability within China. It is consistently suggested by many travelers to China as a VPN that actually works within their ultra-censored internet.

Astrill VPN dashboard. Image: Astrill VPN official website
Figure B: Astrill VPN dashboard. Image: Astrill VPN official website

Pricing

Astrill VPN has three subscription plans divided by contract length:

  • 1 month: $30 per month.
  • 1 year: $15 per month.
  • 2 years: $12.50 per month.

Features

  • Around 300 servers in 119 cities, 58 countries.
  • Large number of servers in Asia.
  • Kill switch.
  • Multi-hop VPN functionality.
  • AES-256 encryption.

Pros

  • Works well in China.
  • Good for travelers going to Asia.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Only five simultaneous device connections.

ExpressVPN: Best for travelers to Europe

ExpressVPN logo.
Image: ExpressVPN

Europe-bound travelers have ExpressVPN as their top VPN pick. As of March 2024, ExpressVPN has servers in 47 European countries, including France, Spain and the United Kingdom. Business travelers in Europe have a secure way of connecting to the internet without compromising on speed.

Meanwhile, if you’re in Europe and need to access content outside of the region, ExpressVPN has servers located in 58 other countries across the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

This is on top of having an intuitive desktop app interface and fast VPN speed.

Why we chose ExpressVPN

We chose ExpressVPN for its extensive server fleet that includes a wide list of both European and non-European server locations. This is beneficial for users who want a secure and fast connection while in Europe or users who need to unblock content found in another region.

ExpressVPN’s European server selection.
Figure C: ExpressVPN’s European server selection. Image: Luis Millares

Pricing

ExpressVPN has three plans divided into one-month, six-month, and one-year plans.

  • 1 month: $12.95.
  • 6 months: $9.99 per month.
  • 1 year: $8.32 per month.

Features

  • Servers in 105 countries.
  • AES-256 encryption.
  • TrustedServer RAM-only servers.
  • 24/7 live chat support.

Pros

  • Servers from 47 European countries, 58 non-European.
  • Up to 8 simultaneous device connections.
  • More than 10 independent security audits.
  • Fast VPN speed.
  • Easy-to-use desktop application.

Cons

  • Lack of a more affordable long-term plan.
  • Pricey.

In our hands-on review, ExpressVPN received a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Proton VPN: Best for one-time trips

Proton VPN logo.
Image: Proton VPN

If you’re going on a one-time international trip and don’t want to spend for a VPN subscription, I recommend Proton VPN. Proton VPN has a free plan that is free forever and comes with unlimited bandwidth. This means you won’t have to worry about a monthly data cap — a common drawback in other free VPNs.

For those specifically interested in a fully free VPN, check out our rundown of the best free VPNs.

Keep in mind that Proton VPN Free is limited compared to its paid version. For example, you only get one device connection as opposed to 10 on the paid plan; and you’ll only have access to five countries (the Netherlands, Romania, Japan, Poland and the United States) compared to the premium plan’s 80+ country server spread.

But if you want to protect company assets on one device during a one-off trip, I highly suggest going for Proton VPN’s free version.

Why we chose Proton VPN

I picked Proton VPN for its generous free trial that offers unlimited data without a paid subscription. This makes it a good option for users who don’t often travel for work but may need a way to secure their connection when a one-time trip arises.

Quick Connect on Proton VPN’s free version.
Figure D: Quick Connect on Proton VPN’s free version. Image: Luis Millares

Pricing

Proton VPN has three tiers: Proton Free, Proton VPN Plus and Proton Unlimited.

Proton VPN Free has unlimited data, slower speeds and one device connection. Proton VPN Plus includes the full server fleet and 10 device connections, while Proton Unlimited has all VPN Plus features bundled with ProtonMail, Proton Drive Plus and others Proton services into the subscription.

Here’s a glimpse of Proton VPN’s plans and pricing:

  • Proton VPN Free
  • Proton VPN Plus for 1 year: $5.99 per month.
  • Proton Unlimited for 1 year: $9.99 per month.

Features

  • Unlimited data on free plan.
  • Free version includes servers from five countries.
  • AES-256 encryption.
  • 10 device connections on paid plans.
  • Paid plan includes 3,860 servers from 85 countries.

Pros

  • Generous free plan.
  • Based in privacy-friendly Switzerland.
  • Independently audited no-logs policy.

Cons

  • Free version only allows for one device connection.

In our hands-on review, Proton VPN received a score of 4.0 out of 5 stars.

Surfshark: Best for travelers on a budget

Surfshark logo.
Image: Surfshark

If you’re on a tighter budget but still want a paid VPN, Surfshark is for you. On this list, Surfshark arguably carries the best value plans available. First, it has numerous subscription options that are all on the lower-end in terms of pricing. The Surfshark Starter one-year plan at $2.99 per month is the most affordable starter plan on this list.

Surfshark users get the ability to simultaneously connect an unlimited number of devices with one subscription. This means you don’t need to add a secondary subscription to protect multiple devices.

Additionally, Surfshark has a healthy server network of 3,200 servers across 100 countries. The VPN also utilizes RAM-only servers, ensuring that no user or company data will ever be saved on their servers.

Why we chose Surfshark

Surfshark carved its name on this list for its bang-for-buck pricing and generous unlimited simultaneous device connections. In particular, I think it’s a smart option for individual freelancers or smaller business teams that want a travel VPN but don’t necessarily have a large budget for it.

Surfshark’s desktop app interface.
Figure E: Surfshark’s desktop app interface. Image: Luis Millares

Pricing

Surfshark has three subscription tiers: Starter, One and One+. Surfshark Starter includes the basic VPN and ad blocker, while Surfshark One adds data breach alerts and a private search engine.

Surfshark One+ has all Surfshark One features and the ability to remove your information from company databases and search sites. All three tiers have a one-month, one-year and two-year plan.

Here’s a rundown of all Surfshark one-year subscription plans:

  • Surfshark Starter: $2.99 per month.
  • Surfshark One: $3.49 per month.
  • Surfshark One+: $5.49 per month.

Features

  • 100% RAM-only server infrastructure.
  • Unlimited device connections.
  • AES-256 encryption.
  • 3,200 servers from 100 countries.
  • Built-in antivirus and breach monitoring.

Pros

  • Affordable pricing across all plans.
  • Multiple subscription options, contract lengths.
  • Fast VPN speeds.
  • Can protect multiple devices at no additional cost.

Cons

  • No free version.
  • Some features can be buggy.

In our hands-on review, Surfshark received a score of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

How do I choose the best travel VPN for my business?

To know which VPN is going to work best for your upcoming business trip, there are a few factors to consider.

First, check if your destination country has any restrictions regarding VPN use. Countries like China, Russia and Turkey are examples that don’t play nice with VPNs given their policies on censorship and surveillance.

This means that more mainstream VPNs will have a higher chance of already being blocked or bottlenecked within these regions. With these countries, expect to use a less popular VPN solution instead.

In addition, I highly encourage you to read through forums on which VPNs are currently working in your destination country. User testimonials will give you a more realistic picture of how a VPN fares in a particular country, especially in stricter regions.

No matter where you travel, a VPN’s server fleet is a crucial element to consider. Having a VPN with a large server network across a wide range of countries allows you to gain faster and more stable VPN speeds.

This is because a VPN’s connection performs best when connected to a server location nearest to where you are. If your business conducts numerous business trips in a year, choosing a VPN that has multiple server locations will give you the best shot at a good connection experience.

Finally, consider your business size and the frequency of your trips. Larger enterprises that have regular international trips will benefit from two-year contracts that provide more affordable rates. They should also look into a high number of simultaneous device connections — especially if multiple company devices are brought on these trips.

If you’re an individual freelancer or a smaller business, choosing a free VPN or an affordable plan will be the smarter choice.

Review methodology

In this breakdown of the five best virtual private networks for travelers, I prioritized looking for VPNs that can provide the best value for travelers.

Feature-wise, I looked at server locations and amount of servers, real-world performance within foreign countries and the number of simultaneous device connections allowed, among others.

I analyzed each VPNs feature set through a mix of hands-on experience and extensive research via product documentation and official materials. User testimonials and third-party reviews also played an important role in my evaluation of each VPN.

Save for Astrill VPN, I have conducted full reviews of each VPN listed above. My findings from these individual reviews also informed how each VPN was categorized in the final list.

Finally, each VPN was chosen to fit particular use-cases, and more importantly, a specific type of traveler.


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