The best VPNs for international travel

Don't forget to pack a VPN.
By Mashable Team  on 
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Our Top 6 Picks

ExpressVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Streaming

ExpressVPN handles all of your streaming needs when you're abroad.

The Good

  • Enthusiastic and helpful support team
  • Solid connection speeds
  • Reliable unblocking of Netflix

The Bad

  • One of the priciest options

The Bottom Line

It might be pricey, but ExpressVPN is tough to beat when it comes to streaming and connection speed.
Pros & Cons

NordVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Security

Your data and personal information is in safe hands when travelling with NordVPN.

The Good

  • Great range of privacy options
  • Access to top streaming sites
  • Available in China

The Bad

  • A learning curve that could scare off beginners
  • Inconsistent speeds

The Bottom Line

A powerful VPN that secure your privacy when you're travelling.
Pros & Cons

CyberGhost VPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Beginners

CyberGhost VPN is lightweight and easy to use, making it a solid option for beginners.

The Good

  • Ease of use for first time VPN users
  • 24/7 customer service
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

The Bad

  • Not the best web anonymity
  • Servers are not the fastest

The Bottom Line

A user-friendly VPN that offers a gentle introduction to the world of VPNs.
Pros & Cons

Private Internet Access (opens in a new tab)

Best For Server Network

Private Internet Access offers an absolutely massive network of servers that can help with security and streaming.

The Good

  • Massive network of servers
  • No-log claims have held up in court
  • Powerful encryption

The Bad

  • No obfuscated servers

The Bottom Line

This powerful VPN offers an absolutely massive network of servers to keep up with your movements.
Pros & Cons

Surfshark (opens in a new tab)

Best For Multiple Devices

Surfshark lets users connect an unlimited number of devices, which is great news for anyone with a lot of devices.

The Good

  • Unlimited connections
  • Access to U.S. Netflix
  • Multi-hop and split tunneling tools
  • Intuitive app

The Bad

  • Pricey if you don't commit
  • Speeds could be better

The Bottom Line

Surfshark offers a large collection of privacy tools and unlimited device connections.
Pros & Cons

ProtonVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Free

ProtonVPN is arguably the best free VPN out there.

The Good

  • Comprehensive free version
  • Swiss privacy laws
  • Premium security features

The Bad

  • Free version can't unblock streaming sites

The Bottom Line

ProtonVPN offers an impressive free version backed up by a strong privacy stance, but streamers should upgrade.
Pros & Cons

Travelling requires a lot of planning. You need to be prepared with a checklist of essentials, and then pack everything in such a way that you're not left with a crumpled mess of belongings on the other side.

Something you don't need to pack is a VPN, but it should still be at the top of your list. Why? These security services protect your data and personal information when you're travelling, as well as providing access to top streaming sites from around the world. So whether you're dreaming of getting away, planning your next big trip, or in the departure lounge, you need a VPN by your side.

What is a VPN?

VPNs provide protection for your data and identity when you're online by creating an encrypted tunnel for your online traffic. This protects your personal information by hiding your IP address, and allowing you to safely use public WiFi hotspots.

This means that your internet traffic can't be tracked and recorded by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other third party, wherever you are in the world.

Do you need a VPN for travel?

A VPN is an essential when you're travelling for two key reasons: encryption of your web traffic and access to the websites and apps you use when you're at home.

Any sort of activity on an unsecured WiFi network leaves your private information and browsing habits exposed to the world, unless you're using a VPN. The likelihood of using an unsecured network is increased when you're away from home, so the need for a VPN is great.

The need to access content when travelling is also significant. There will be plenty of moments when you need to access a particular site or app when you're on the road, but you're blocked due to your location. VPNs can bypass these blockades by hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in the UK. This process can trick your favourite services into thinking that you're back home, meaning that you can continue to access the content you love.

What are the most important VPN features for travelling?

The best VPNs for travelling will have certain features in common. To help you make sense of everything, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to think about before committing to a service. You should consider connection speed, server network, number of simultaneous connections, and more:

Connection speed — You shouldn't accept a significant drop in connection speed with a VPN, because this is going to result in buffering when you're streaming. If you're planning on watching a film or downloading a file when travelling, you should opt for something with decent connection speeds.

Number of simultaneous connections — The best VPNs let you connect a large (or unlimited) number of devices with the same account. A service that offers multiple simultaneous connections lets you protect all of your devices with the same plan.

Server network — The very best VPNs provide access to thousands of geographically diverse servers. It's useful if a VPN has a lot of servers in key locations, because you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing anonymously when you're travelling around.

Privacy policy — You should be aware of the data-handling, storage, and usage practices of a VPN, and these practices should be clearly laid out in a privacy policy. Most VPNs require access to your IP address, online transactions, and browsing history, plus your personal details when you sign up, so it's absolutely vital that your VPN is not going to store these details.

Encryption — You are likely to come across terms like "military-grade" and "enterprise-grade" encryption. There are clearly different levels of encryption, and whilst it's important to take note of the grade provided by your VPN, the best options will all offer powerful protection for your data.

Bandwidth — There are VPNs that place monthly caps on network bandwidth. You should avoid these services, unless you're on a free trial. If you're paying for a VPN, you need to be able to download and upload as much as you want.

You should also think about things like price and subscription options, but these features represent are a good place to start.

Do you need to pay for VPNs?

There are a lot of free versions of top VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. With this in mind, why would you ever pay for a VPN?

The fact is you get what you pay for with VPNs. There are always catches with free versions, and it's normally in the form of limited data usage. These plans will work fine for some people, but if you're going to be streaming or downloading on the move, it isn't going to work. Free trials work differently: they come without limitations, but don't tend to last very long. Trials give you the opportunity to test out a service before committing, but this isn't a long-term solution if you're travelling.

To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you're willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What is the best VPN for travelling?

There are a lot of VPNs out there all offering different sets of features, with different pricing plans. Finding the best service for you is not easy, so we recommend taking some time to carefully access your options and decide on what you really need from a provider. Once you have established your priorities, you can check out this roundup of the best VPNs for travel.

We have tracked down everything on offer and lined up a selection of the very best VPNs for travelling. We have tried to find something for everyone and every budget, and you can find popular services like ExpressVPN(opens in a new tab), NordVPN(opens in a new tab), and CyberGhost VPN(opens in a new tab) in this roundup.

These are the best VPNs for travelling in 2022.

Best For Streaming
Credit: ExpressVPN
  • Monthly: £9.80/month
  • Six-month plan: £7.56/month
  • 15-month plan: £5.05/month

Read the full review of ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN is one of the best services for speed, security, and streaming, with a wide range of advanced features that should suit users on the move.

Yes, ExpressVPN is pretty pricey, but this makes sense when you consider the strong connection speeds, powerful encryption, and access to a diverse network of servers located all around the world. This server network comes in handy when you're looking to stream content from around the world.

Editor's note: Product information has been synthesized from a review previously published on Mashable.

Best For Security
Credit: NordVPN
  • Monthly: £9.20/month
  • One-year plan: £3.79/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.86/month

Read the full review of NordVPN.

NordVPN is all about power and privacy, with a long list of advanced security features to keep your data and personal information safe when you're travelling.

It's probably not the best service for beginners, but it should be something to seriously consider if you require a no nonsense VPN that delivers where it counts.

Connection speeds can be inconsistent, but NordVPN is still a decent option for unlocking streaming sites like Netflix. It can bypass even the toughest of geo-restrictions, meaning you can still access all of your favourite shows when you're away from home.

Editor's note: Product information has been synthesized from a review previously published on Mashable.

Best For Beginners
Credit: cyberghost vpn
  • Monthly: £10.89/month
  • One-year plan: £3.45/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.89/month
  • Three-year plan: £1.99/month

Read the full review of CyberGhost VPN.

CyberGhost VPN(opens in a new tab) is not the most advanced, fast, or powerful service on offer, but it is still a comprehensive option that works well for beginners.

It offers access to thousands of geographically diverse servers, with unlimited bandwidth, AES 256-bit encryption, DNS and IP leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. It's also a strong option for unlocking streaming sites, although connection speeds are not the best.

Customer support is excellent, so if you're having problems when travelling, the CyberGhost VPN team can help you out.

Editor's note: Product information has been synthesized from a review previously published on Mashable.

Best For Server Network
  • Monthly: £9.99/month
  • One-year plan: £2.71/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.19/month

Read the full review of Private Internet Access.

Private Internet Access keeps things simple, which might not appeal to everyone. It focuses on powerful encryption, strong connection speeds, and an absolutely massive network of servers, without being flashy. You can also connect 10 devices simultaneously with the same plan, which is great news if you're packing a lot of tech on your travels. 

The lack of obfuscated servers might be an issue for some users, but there is a lot to like about Private Internet Access. 

Editor's note: Product information has been synthesized from a review previously published on Mashable.

Best For Multiple Devices
Credit: Surfshark
  • Monthly: £9.48/month
  • Six-month plan: £4.75/month
  • Two-year plan: £1.82/month

Surfshark is a great option for travelling and streaming, without the heavy price tag. Users get split tunnelling, enterprise-grade infrastructure, decent connection speeds, and a whole lot more.

You can connect an unlimited number of devices under the same plan with Surfshark, which is really useful if you've packed a lot of tech. All of your devices remain protected with Surfshark.

The app is also user-friendly and attractive, which is a nice bonus.

Best For Free
Credit: ProtonVPN
  • Monthly: £4.27/month
  • One-year plan: £3.42/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.81/month

ProtonVPN(opens in a new tab) offers users the chance to remain protected online for free, with decent connection speeds, servers in three countries, and no limits on bandwidth. You don't even get adverts with the free version, which is really unique.

ProtonVPN is Switzerland-based, meaning your data is shielded by Swiss privacy laws, which are some of the strongest in the world. ProtonVPN also has a strict no logging policy that means none of your data can be revealed to third parties. Users also get a kill-switch, DNS leak prevention, and much more.

If you want the most advanced features and access to more servers from around the world, you should consider upgrading. ProtonVPN's free version doesn't unblock streaming sites, so if that's your objective, you'll need to pay up.

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