Should you use a VPN when traveling?
Do you want to be online when traveling? Then you’ve probably tried logging in to all sorts of public networks.
It might have worked for you, but here’s the thing, it’s not the safest option.
If you want to avoid being an easy target for hackers, then getting a VPN is definitely something worth looking into. And the best news is: a VPN doesn’t have to be expensive, nor is it difficult to use!
Continue reading to find out whether or not you should use a VPN and if so, which one and how.
We all know that we have to protect our health, but one thing we often overlook when planning a trip is our online safety.
Free WiFi is available pretty much everywhere these days, but it doesn’t protect our data and information. In fact, it does the complete opposite – using public networks exposes us to some serious risks. Think stolen credit card numbers, passwords, usernames, and hacked emails.
Luckily, we can prevent those cyber attacks by using a VPN.
First things first, you may not know what a VPN exactly is.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s a service that provides private and secure access to the internet by creating a private network from a public internet connection.
In other words, a VPN hides your online actions.
This makes them untraceable and prevents hackers from getting into your private information.
It also allows you to access the internet as if you were in your own country or any other country you want to ‘appear’ to be in – this could be a great benefit when you want to watch your favorite movies and shows.
But for more information about that, read my other article about how a VPN helps you view websites from another country.
Besides protecting our private information, there are many other reasons why I recommend
using a VPN when traveling.
But, let’s talk a little bit more about our online safety first.
As you know now, logging in to a free public network can make you an easy target for hackers. Your personal data and passwords will be out in the open – including sent emails, banking information, and credit card details.
Even WiFi hotspots in hotels aren’t always secure. There’s no guarantee that the person who
set up the hotel’s WiFi network configured all the security features correctly.
When you use a good VPN, you can be sure that all of your data will be encrypted, making it impossible for hackers to see, no matter which WiFi network you use.
Another reason to use a VPN for traveling is because it makes sure you can still access everything the way you could at home.
Your bank, for example, will try to protect you and keep your account safe. That’s great of course, but the downside of that is that they can stop you from accessing your banking apps or even temporarily freeze your account while you are abroad. It has happened to me before, and it is a nightmare when traveling!
And it’s not just your bank. Any app you use or website you log into sees where you are logging in from. If they don’t agree with or support the location you are traveling to they might deny you access.
Using a VPN allows you to choose which location you log in from. So, if you set it to your home country the apps and websites you use have no idea you’re actually somewhere else.
Some countries block certain websites such as Facebook, Youtube, and online newspapers. This happens in more countries than you might think. Yes, China, Dubai, and Cuba are perhaps countries where you expected this to happen. But popular tourist destinations such as Thailand and Mexico have blocked websites as well.
Skype, Facetime, and Whatsapp are all blocked in the United Arab Emirates and in Qatar.
When you have a VPN you can choose to connect to the internet via a country where all of those things aren’t blocked. Your home country most likely. This way you can keep using all the social media, news websites and communication apps as you do at home.
On top of that, nobody, and that included the government, can monitor what you are doing online. In certain countries that is an added benefit of having a VPN.
Ok, enough about that, let’s not get into politics. So, here comes the fun part!
As I briefly mentioned before, having a VPN allows you to watch your favorite movies and shows. Services such as Hulu, BBC, or Starz Play are only available in certain countries and while Netflix and Amazon Prime are available almost everywhere in the world, the catalog differs from country to country.
This means that by having a VPN, you are able to access more movies and shows!
There’s a little “but” here, though – Netflix has been able to stop lots of VPNs, so it’s important to look for the best VPNs.
A website called The BestVPN recently did research on the best VPNs for watching Netflix and found that ExpressVPN
works better than all others. That was great news for me because I’ve been using ExpressVPN for years and it’s true, I’ve never had any problems.
One more benefit of having a VPN, it can make booking flights cheaper! Yes, prices change depending on your IP address, browsing and purchase history.
There are lots of different VPNs out there, including a few free ones. The free ones always come with some restrictions such as bandwidth and speed limit, ads, fewer endpoints, time limits, and slower servers.
I’ve tried plenty of free VPNs over the years and none of them worked well. In fact, most of them didn’t work at all.
So, what is the best VPN for traveling?
At the top of many lists you’ll find ExpressVPN
. ExpressVPN is user-friendly, fast, secure and one of the very best for unblocking streaming sites. It has strong encryption, fast connection speeds, privacy features, and 3000 VPN servers in 160 locations across 94 countries.
ExpressVPN is also one of the best priced ones and they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
One other good VPN that is a bit cheaper and generally gets really good reviews as well is PureVPN. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so they might be worth a try if you find ExpressVPN too expensive.
If you’ve decided to safely surf the web, then you might be wondering how to use a VPN.
It’s actually quite simple – just sign up on the website of your chosen VPN. You’ll then receive instructions on how to install the VPN on your phone, tablet, and laptop. It’s basically like installing an app.
Once you’ve installed the VPN you choose which country you want to connect through and that’s it, you’re connected and protected!
There are a couple of things you should keep in mind, though:
That might sound silly, but sometimes when the WiFi connection drops, the VPN disconnects.
So always check the app’s icon in your task or notification bar and reconnect if you don’t see it.
Some VPNs such as ExpressVPN have an auto-connect feature, which comes in handy if you’re traveling a lot.
As I mentioned, you can choose the country you want to connect through. Choose a country close to where you are for the fastest connection.
Of course, that’s for general use of the VPN to browse securely. If you want to access a website or app that needs to be accessed through a specific country, then choose that country.
As a traveler, you know there might be times when you’re in a location with very slow WiFi.
If that happens, you may not be able to use your VPN.
In that case, limit your online activity to things that don’t need a high level of security.
Don’t sign into anything. Not into apps, websites and ideally not your email either.
Asking the question: should you use a VPN when traveling? My conclusion is: yes, absolutely.
Protect yourself against hackers, browse anonymously and access all the websites and apps you want to use.
I hope I’ve been able to explain why a VPN is important and how easy they are to use.
And although I’d say it’s very important to use a VPN when you travel and sign into different WiFi networks, of course really you should use a VPN all the time!
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