How to Get High-Speed Wi-Fi While Traveling

  • Best for short trips
    T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000
    Our top pick: T-Mobile Inseego 5G MiFi M2000
    Phones and mobile hotspots
    • Easy setup
    • Connectivity for multiple users
    • High price for mobile data
  • Best for international travel
    Our top pick: Huawei E5577Cs-321
    Travel hotspots and local SIM cards
    • Affordable prices
    • Flexible plan options
    • Complicated setup
  • Best for budget travelers
    starbucks logo
    Our top pick: Starbucks Wi-Fi
    Public Wi-Fi
    • Cheap prices (or free)
    • Wide availability in big cities
    • Slow speeds
  • Best for road trips
    Our top pick: AT&T Connected Car
    Your car’s built-in hotspot
    • Working connection on the road
    • Affordable prices for plans
    • Safety risks (don’t Wi-Fi and drive!)
  • Best for RVs and digital nomads
    nomad internet
    Our top pick: Nomad Internet
    • Reliable connection in rural areas
    • Unlimited data on most plans
    • Extremely high prices

There are a bunch of ways you can get high-speed Wi-Fi while you’re traveling. A mobile hotspot is the easiest and most reliable option, giving you Wi-Fi access for multiple devices whether you’re on a long drive, staying at a vacation home, or even traveling abroad. Hotels and restaurants also often have free Wi-Fi for customers, while other ways to get portable Wi-Fi include built-in car hotspots and fixed wireless internet plans for RVs.

Below we take a deep dive into all your pocket Wi-Fi options for when you’re traveling. Take a look to find the best way to stay connected on your next trip.

Best ways to get Wi-Fi while traveling:

Best for short trips: Phones and mobile hotspots

A hotspot—whether it’s the one on your phone or a separate mobile device—is the easiest and quickest tool you can use to get Wi-Fi while traveling. As long as you have a data plan and network coverage where you’re traveling, all you need to do is switch on the Wi-Fi hotspot to provide internet access for multiple laptops, tablets, and phones.

Your phone’s hotspot works great for lots of situations, and most phone plans come with hotspot data, so using one doesn’t tax your wallet.

But we recommend investing in a standalone mobile hotspot if you need Wi-Fi for multiple users or extended periods—for example, if you’re taking a few hours to get work done at your vacation home. Mobile hotspots have longer range than a phone hotspot, they connect more devices, and they don’t strain your phone’s battery.

Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Connectivity for multiple users

Cons:

  • Limited speeds depending on the hotspot
  • Unreliable service in some places

Best mobile hotspots

ProductPriceConnectivityMax devicesOrder online
Inseego 5G MiFi M2000$336.005G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)30View on T-Mobile
Verizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot$199.994G LTE, 802.11ac15View on Verizon
NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 4G LTE Mobile Router$429.994G LTE, 802.11 ac20View on Amazon
Alcatel LINKZONE$69.994G LTE, 802.11n16View on Amazon

T-Mobile’s Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 is the most formidable mobile hotspot out there, delivering excellent speeds over T-Mobile’s 4G LTE and 5G networks. It can connect up to 30 devices—making it an excellent option for big groups—and comes with security features to set up guest networks and firewalls. T-Mobile also has the best prices on data plans, offering lots of flexibility for whenever you need it.

Pro tip: 

Keep in mind that you need a data plan to make your hotspot work. Look at our hotspot data plans guide for details on the best (and cheapest) monthly and prepaid options.

Best phone plans for hotspotting

Hotspot planPriceData capOrder online
T-Mobile Magenta MAX$85.00/mo.*Unlimited (phone data), 40 GB (hotspots)View Plans
Verizon 5G Do More$80.00/mo. (for one line)25 GB/mo.
AT&T Unlimited Premium$85.00/mo. (for one line)50 GB/mo.
Visible phone plan$40.00/mo. (after the first month)Unlimited (connects to one device, with max speeds of 5 Mbps)View Plans

Almost any phone plan gives you hotspot data nowadays, and if you don’t have data, then you can likely add hotspotting for a modest fee. You don’t really need to pick out a cell phone plan just for the hotspot data.

But if you’re in the market, you can’t go wrong with AT&T’s flagship Unlimited Premium plan, which gives you the most hotspot data for your dollar. T-Mobile’s Magenta MAX plan also has a generous offer on hotspot data (albeit you get 10 GB less than the AT&T plan). Verizon’s 5G Do More plan comes with the least amount of data, but it includes a discount for a separate hotspot plan.

Best for traveling internationally: Travel hotspots and international SIM cards

The easiest and cheapest way to get internet abroad is to stick to hotel and restaurant Wi-Fi. But if you really need internet while abroad—for example, if you’re working remotely or need to make regular Zoom calls to family back home—we recommend getting a SIM card from a local phone carrier in the country you’re visiting.

Setup can be tricky, especially if you’re in a place where you don’t speak the language: you have to go to a phone store to buy a SIM card and set up an account, which usually requires you to show your passport and sign some paperwork. But these inconveniences are a small price to pay. Many countries have cheap options for phone plans and data, and getting a SIM card is often affordable.

Pros:

  • Affordable prices (many countries have low-cost cellular plans)
  • Flexible plan options

Cons:

  • Time-consuming and potentially stressful setup
  • Limited connectivity if you’re traveling in multiple countries

Best travel hotspots

ProductPriceConnectivityMax devicesOrder online
Huawei E5577Cs-321 4G LTE Mobile WiFi Hotspot$115.234G LTE, 802.11n10View on Amazon
GlocalMe G4 Pro 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Router$169.994G LTE, 802.11n10View on Amazon

Huawei’s E5577Cs-321 may not have the prettiest name, but it’s a handy device. The 4G hotspot is compatible with providers across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, so you can swap in a SIM card and get the Wi-Fi flowing (almost) wherever you go.

GlocalMe G4 Pro is another interesting option. It doesn’t require a SIM card; instead, GlocalMe has its own data plans, which provide coverage in more than 140 countries, according to the manufacturer.

We’re hesitant to recommend devices in general like these because you have no way of knowing how well the hotspot actually works (if at all) until you’ve already bought the thing and gone on your trip. But the G4 Pro gets good reviews online, it’s easy to handle, and it comes with a pre-installed Google Maps app to help out in case you get lost.

Best for budget travelers: Hotel and restaurant Wi-Fi

Nothing beats hotel Wi-Fi, am I right? Most hotels and restaurants nowadays offer free Wi-Fi with their services, and anyone who’s ever spent a long layover in Paris or Istanbul knows how convenient free Wi-Fi can be.

Traveling on a budget? Go ahead and skip all the fancy stuff; don’t worry about adjusting your phone plan or buying a pricey hotspot. Just stick to the free Wi-Fi at your hotel or a nearby restaurant.

See below for a list of places where you can find public Wi-Fi (including lots of free options). And consider investing in a travel router and VPN to boost your signal range and increase browser security.

Pros:

  • Cheap price (included with a hotel room or drink)
  • Wide availability in big cities

Cons:

  • Limited availability in rural areas
  • Slow speeds
  • Higher security risk

Where to find free Wi-Fi

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Public libraries
  • Government buildings
  • University campuses
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Airport terminals
  • Public parks

Popular restaurant and retail chains with free Wi-Fi:

  • Starbucks
  • McDonald’s
  • Burger King
  • KFC
  • Taco Bell
  • Subway
  • Target
  • Best Buy
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement
  • Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts)
  • Peet’s Coffee
  • Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
  • Tim Hortons
  • Panera Bread
  • Arby’s
  • Wendy’s

Use a travel router to give your travel Wi-Fi a boost

A travel router is a small device that improves your connection and increases your security while you’re plugged into a public Wi-Fi network.

It lets you set up a private network using an Ethernet connection from a public hotspot. So if you’re at a hotel, you can plug the travel router into a hotel-provided internet access point like an Ethernet switch or hub. When you run the Wi-Fi through your travel router, it lets you bypass encryption and firewalls, connect more devices, and increase your signal range.

Best travel router

RouterPrice*Wi-Fi bandsMax speedOrder online
TP-Link AC750 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router$39.99Dual-band, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz733 MbpsView on Amazon

Best for road trips: Car Wi-Fi and built-in hotspots

Many newer vehicles—especially deluxe models and family sedans—have onboard Wi-Fi hotspots that give you internet access on the go.

We definitely don’t recommend using Wi-Fi while you’re driving a car. But so long as you’re safely paying attention to the road, an in-car hotspot is great because it lets your friends and family enjoy Wi-Fi access on long drives and road trips to watch movies, play games, and even get work done if necessary.

Pro tip:

Take a look at our guide to car Wi-Fi for details on how to set up a hotspot in your vehicle.

Best car internet plans

Wi-Fi systemCar brandsHotspot priceMax connected devicesDataOrder online
OnStarChevrolet, Cadillac, GM, Buick$25.00/mo.7Unlimited data plans availableView Plans
Toyota Wi-Fi ConnectToyota$20.00–$25.00/mo., $120.00/six mos. or $200.00/yr.5Unlimited data plans available (speeds may be slowed during network congestion)View Plans
FordPass ConnectFord$15.00–$25.00/mo., $120.00/six mos. or $200.00/yr.102 GB/mo. and unlimited monthly plans availableView Plans
Volkswagen Car-NetVolkswagen$20.00/mo.4UnlimitedView Plans
T-Mobile SyncUP DRIVEAvailable on numerous brands; check compatibility with T-Mobile$108.00 plus data plan5Depends on data planView Devices

Many cars with built-in Wi-Fi hotspots need a data plan from AT&T. Prices and features vary based on the make and model of your vehicle, but expect to pay around $15 to $25 per month for a data plan. Some cars let you get data through Verizon or T-Mobile—namely Volkswagens and vehicles that use T-Mobile’s SyncUP DRIVE system.

Pros:

  • Working connection even while driving
  • Affordable prices for Wi-Fi plans

Cons:

  • Safety risk—don’t use Wi-Fi while driving!

Best for digital nomads: Portable 4G LTE or satellite internet

RVs and Sprinter vans typically have built-in systems for utilities like water and gas, but if you’re living on the road then you need to figure out a separate system for the Wi-Fi. Mobile hotspots and Wi-Fi extenders are excellent and affordable tools to get you internet in many places, but both come with technical limitations and aren’t adequate replacements for a proper home internet network.

A 4G LTE or satellite internet plan gives you a consistent connection for wherever you travel. 4G internet is already a popular choice for rural areas, and these plans work as mobile connections that can be set up anywhere. Satellite usually isn’t mobile, but Starlink has just introduced a plan for RVs that provides extensive nationwide coverage. Setup and billing costs can really add up with these plans, but the benefits include sturdier equipment and unlimited data.

Best 4G LTE and satellite internet plans

PlanPriceEquipment/membership feeNetworksData capOrder online
Nomad Internet$149.00/mo.$99.00T-Mobile, VerizonUnlimitedView Plan
Starlink for RVs$135.00/mo.$599.00StarlinkUnlimitedView Plan
UbiFi$129.99–$199.99/mo.$279.99–$524.99AT&TUnlimitedView Plan
Ladybug Wireless$129.99–$219.99/mo.$209.99AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon300–750 GBView Plan

Nomad Internet is one of the best choices for RVs because its portable 4G internet plan doesn’t have a data cap. Hotspots don’t give you enough data to let you stream movies, make video calls, or work remotely for more than just a weekend or two, so having unlimited data makes a huge difference when you’re living out of a vehicle full time.

Starlink for RVs also comes with unlimited data. Its setup price is a lot higher, but Starlink has relatively fast speeds and excellent coverage across wide swathes of the rural West.

Pros:

  • Reliable connection in rural areas
  • Great setup for RVs

Cons:

  • Challenging setup with potential technical issues
  • Expensive price

Our verdict

When it comes down to it, a mobile hotspot is the best way to get pocket Wi-Fi on the road. Hotspots are affordable, easy to use, and compatible both in the United States and overseas (so long as you have one certified to do so). Even your phone’s hotspot and a SIM card with a data plan works wonders in many cases.

If you’re worried about costs, remember you can often find a restaurant or hotel with free Wi-Fi, especially in major cities and tourist areas. For living out of an RV, though, you’re better off with a portable 4G LTE or satellite internet plan, which offers you more consistent connections even in rural areas.

FAQ about getting Wi-Fi while traveling

Does portable Wi-Fi work with a SIM card?

Yes, you can get a SIM card to get portable Wi-Fi. You can sign up for a data plan from a cellular carrier in the area where you’re traveling and install the SIM card into your phone or a mobile hotspot to get Wi-Fi access on multiple devices.

How much does portable Wi-Fi cost?

Portable Wi-Fi ranges in price but usually costs $25 to $60 per month. Your phone plan or hotspot plan gives you enough data to support portable Wi-Fi for a range of devices and usually comes at an affordable price—although you may have strict limits on data use.

Disclaimer

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.