A wireless adapter makes it possible for your computer or other device to connect to the Internet without needing wires no matter where you travel. USB WiFi adapters help you connect desktops, laptops, and other electronics quickly to a router, so you can set up a wireless signal and get online even if you aren’t at home or even in your own country.
Traveling is exciting, but it can also be frustrating. This is especially true if you’re relying on the internet to update friends and family about your travels or if you need internet access to work while you’re on the road. Not having a reliable USB WiFi adapter could mean the difference between getting paid and not getting paid.
Your intentions with working or playing online will affect which of the adapters is right for you when you need a good Internet connection. You’ll want to think about things like range and speed when making your choice, as well as the size of the adapter which can affect how easy it is to travel with.
Another of the main factors you need to consider when shopping for a USB adapter is security.
USB WiFi adapters broadcast a signal from your device of about 200 feet, which means you need to be concerned about security when traveling. Anyone in your area can pick up your signal and access your files so make sure if you’re using an adapter while traveling that you protect your information and your signal. A primary concern to consider when shopping for a USB adapter for traveling is that the one you choose supports security protocols.
What do we consider the best USB WiFi adapters for travelers?
The Panda PAU09 is one of our favorite adapters because it’s compatible with most operating systems. It features two large antennae that give you a good range and it comes with a USB extender that makes it easier to adjust for the best signal. It also features a dual-band USB adapter, which works for both 2.4 GHz and 6 GHz bands.
This is a decent USB port WiFi adapter that doesn’t cost a lot of money but gives you reasonable range. It’s bulkier, so might not be the best option if your plans are to travel light, but if you can handle it, it’s a great option.
This is a small, budget-friendly adapter that is really great for traveling. It’s a good all-around adapter and it offers both compatibility and speed. It comes with dual-band and uses 802.11 ac protocol, so it fits into just about any WiFi network. We also found this adapter to have easy setup—something we love when we’re traveling. Windows 10 users barely had to do anything and the system found the drivers as soon as the adapter was plugged in.
Net-Dyn has given us this 300M wireless adapter with 2.4 GHz USB 2.0 dongle. It’s not what we’d consider super fast, but it’s fast enough. It also comes with a low price tag and is tiny so it’s convenient and easy to carry when you’re traveling. The speed was decent but not impressive, with downloading of about 101 Mbps, which is actually pretty decent for a smaller wireless dongle.
OURLiNK is one of the smaller 802.11ac dual-band dongles on the market. It’s reasonably priced and works well with Windows 10. It offers 100 Mbps download speeds, and gives you what you need when you’re traveling.
We love this USB adapter from Dodocool because it’s so small. It’s one of the easiest adapters you’ll ever find for traveling and fits into just about any network. Of course, its size means the range isn’t too impressive, but it is 802.11ac compatible.
TP-Link Archer T1U is another travel-friendly adapter. It’s considered an entry level 802.11 ac adapter and offers decent support, but only if you have a newer router. It also only works with 5 GHz band unless you’ve got a dual-band router. This adapter is a decent option for travelers, but it requires you understand your system and know how to buy the right tool for the job, so unless you completely understand what you’re working with it might be better to choose another option.
Here’s another USB port adapter from Panda we thought was good enough to make our list. It’s a wireless-N 2.4 GHz network adapter and has a screw-on and off the antenna. We found that it gave a decent range, but the speed was slow. It works great for those looking for distance over speed, which is the case for many travelers.
This is a pricier option, but it’s the fastest adapter you’ll find for traveling. It also comes with a cradle. If you need a fast option this is great, but the truth is not everyone needs something this fast, so there’s no need to spend the money unless speed is a priority.
It also doesn’t offer support for Linux, so only Windows users will be able to take advantage of the speed. It’s a little bulkier, so again, make sure it’s what you need before deciding this is the best option for you. For the right person, we think it’s one of the best options available.
This is one of the smallest adapters on our list and is easy to take with you when traveling. It’s an 802.11n 2.4 GHz adapter. It’s not the speediest option on our list and doesn’t offer a huge range, but it’s quick, reliable, and can be purchased at a great price point. We consider it a general workhorse but doesn’t perform miracles, so whether it’s right for you depends on your intentions while traveling.