The 8 Best Mini Travel Routers
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in March of 2016. The last thing you want on vacation or a business trip is to find out your hotel's Wi-Fi is unstable, or worry about your data being stolen in public spaces. To avoid those headaches the next time you go away, pick up a mini travel router. They come in portable packages and can get your devices a secure wireless connection through a hard-wired access point or by extending an existing network. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 20, 2021:
There hasn't been much advancement recently in these tiny devices, and the RavPower FileHub WD009 retained the top spot because of its reliability and versatility. We brought in the GL.iNet GL-AR150 because it's so small and comes ready to use with OpenWrt and a VPN client. The GL.iNet AR750S is still near the top, and the GL.iNet GL-E750 makes a debut as the top North America-ready 4G LTE hotspot, which is an impressive showing from the engineers at the GL.iNet.
December 30, 2019:
Quite a bit different from the average home router, a travel router is a compact device designed to access an existing public network and broadcast a private one in order to prevent sensitive data from being compromised. The RavPower FileHub WD009 and RavPower FileHub WD008 are both high-performing units; the main difference between them is that the WD009 broadcasts a dual-band network while the WD008 is limited to the 2.4-gigahertz band, which affects maximum bandwidth as well as the device's ability to navigate the airwaves when there are a lot of different wireless networks in an area. Of course, not everyone needs dual-band functionality; if you tend to be part of the group that doesn't, the TP-Link WR802N may be all that you need, and it doesn't cost very much. Alternately, the HooToo TripMate Titan provides similar functionality and also has a relatively large internal battery, making it great for keeping your various other devices fully charged.
One of the most interesting companies in the field is GL.iNet, and we've highlighted some of their most effective offerings. The GL.iNet AR750S is just about their most advanced travel router, the GL.iNet MT300N their most basic, and the GL.iNet Microuter their most compact. One of the useful aspects of all of these is their pre-installed OpenWRT/LEDE firmware and software control, which, along with native VPN support, makes them perfect for power users who require the utmost in security and customizable settings.
We also included a couple of the more capable 4G hotspots. The Netgear Nighthawk M1 is exceptionally reliable and also quite popular; its only real drawback is its immense price tag. The Huawei E5885M, on the other hand, is every bit as effective, and costs quite a bit less.
Why Use A Mini Travel Router?
Your travel router is likely to operate on higher data speeds than the average hotel WiFi or Ethernet connection.
A mini travel router is a WiFi router that fits in your pocket and can be taken anywhere. It is most commonly used in hotel rooms that require use of an Ethernet connection or only allow one device on WiFi at a time without charging extra fees. The mini travel router expands the existing single connection into a wireless hot spot for multiple devices. This means that you can use your laptop, tablet, and smartphone on the same connection without incurring extra costs.
It is also convenient because it will save you time and effort in connecting to an existing WiFi connection. If you have already set up your travel router at home and connected it to your devices as a saved connection, then you will simply need to plug it in at your hotel or other destination and allow your devices to automatically connect.
It is important to ensure that you password protect your connection so that no one else nearby can access it and slow down your speeds with extra devices, or worse, access your saved content.
The mini travel router will help you to share important files and complete work quickly. This is especially helpful if you take frequent business trips and need continuous access to the Internet across multiple devices. Your travel router is likely to operate on higher data speeds than the average hotel WiFi or Ethernet connection.
You will want to ensure that the internet connection is locked to your travel router rather than your laptop. Ensure that you plug the router in first before setting up internet.
What Do I Need To Know Before I Buy?
Mini travel routers are great for connecting multiple devices and when traveling in a group. Most of them are the size of a credit card or a deck of cards, so you can fit them in your pocket and take them wherever you need to go.
Believe it or not, these handy little devices often come equipped with multiple features that you might not have initially considered. Depending on your budget, think about the features that might be useful.
Mini travel routers are great for connecting multiple devices and when traveling in a group.
Check to see if your wireless router is locked or unlocked. Locked means that it is only usable through a specific service provider. If it is extremely cheap, it is likely that you are going to be trapped with a service provider and be subject to expensive data plans. You will not be permitted to use the router with other service providers. If you value flexibility, it is best to go with an unlocked device, so you can switch between service providers.
Depending on your intended usage, you will need to determine how many devices your mini travel router can support at one time. If you plan to travel with several people or have multiple devices you need to connect at once, high connectivity capabilities are important.
What Internet Service Provider do you think you will be using the majority of the time? You will want to ensure that the mini travel router you choose is compatible with that specific provider. It will also need to be compatible with your USB data card or SIM card. You are also going to want a travel router that supports your 3G/4G data card.
No one wants to deal with a slow Internet connection, so check your wireless router for the wireless standards: B, G, and N. “N” is the most advanced and supports the fastest speeds. It will support transfer speeds of up to 300MB/second and is faster at home and away than “G” or “B.”
Your mini travel router can also double as a portable charger and provide endless charging and WiFi capabilities on the go. It might even come complete with its own downloadable mobile app for Android users.
Finally, check for USB ports. These ports are great for sharing files with other computers connected to the WiFi router.
A Brief History Of The Mini Travel Router
There are several men credited with the invention of WiFi and the Wireless router. Each one of them contributed something that was crucial to the creation of the final product, although it seems that no single person is solely responsible.
Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, one an engineer and both computer scientists, invented Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol which are both essential to communication across the internet.
They worked together to create technology that beams anything you could possibly need directly into your home or office.
Vic Hayes was an engineer that some dubbed “The Father of WiFi” because he played a large role in establishing the 802.11 standard that forged the path for modern WiFi technology.
In the 1990s, five computer specialists worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia. These men, by the names of Dr. Terry Percival, Mr. Graham Daniels, Mr. Diet Ostry, Mr. John Deane, and Dr. John O’Sullivan, created a computer chip designed to improve WiFi signal quality. This technology is still used in wireless routers today.
No matter what device you use or where you log on from, you are using technology that would not be possible without each one of these men. They worked together to create technology that beams anything you could possibly need directly into your home or office.
This technology has made mini travel routers possible and increased convenience for many conducting personal and business affairs worldwide. This technology has enabled people to work from anywhere without the need to punch a clock in the office, and new technological pioneers continue to advance and improve on it today.