When you travel, you will be quickly reminded about what a wonderful invention the internet is. You can stay in touch with family and friends back home, you can keep yourself updated about the news back home, share photos and videos, and even work while you relax by the beach.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly necessary to focus on security and how to protect your computer, mobile phone or tablet against hackers and others that have malicious intentions. They want to steal your data, identify your devices, and then possibly use your devices to attack other’s computers and systems.
This is particularly the case when you travel, as you often will use others’ WiFi or network connections. This makes you very dependent on the security of their systems and if they have already been infected by hackers or viruses.
The good news is that you can take steps to protect yourself. By using a VPN connection when you travel, you can protect yourself and no longer be dependent on others’ security. At the same time, you also get some additional advantages.
Let’s dive into the advantages of using a VPN connection when you travel:
1. Be Protected When You Use a Public Connection
When you travel, there is nothing like finding a free Wi-Fi hotspot at a café, in an airport, a restaurant, hotel, a shop, or somewhere else where you can update your social media or keep in touch with friends and family back home
Unfortunately, those Wi-Fi hotspots are the perfect hunting grounds for those who want to steal your data and identity. The reason is that all data that is transmitted over the internet is not encrypted per default, so anybody who can snap up the data you transmit will also be able to read them without any problems unless you have done something to encrypt them.
The missing encryption means that you are in great danger of somebody who is going to steal your usernames, passwords for your social media accounts, and your e-mail. When they have got your information, they can not only steal from you but also use your accounts to send out spam, attack others, or do other types of criminal activities. You also run the risk that they could get your credit card information or other things of value like miles from your accounts at the airlines you use.
We can continue forever listing the risks you run, but let’s instead look at what you can do to be more secure. We have seen several experts suggesting that you stay away from using local hotspots or using the internet at all when traveling, but that will make both your trip more cumbersome and less entertaining.
Luckily for us, there is another opportunity. By using a VPN connection, you protect yourself since you can make sure that all the data you are transmitting over a public connection is encrypted. So even if your data is snapped up by someone, the data will just be gibberish for those who snaps it up.
2. Get a Lower Price When You Book Hotels, Plane Tickets, Rent Cars and Other Travel Stuff
A lot of websites track your IP address to determine where you come from and tracking your activities on the website to adjust the prices accordingly. A widely used example is that if you use an Apple product to browse a website, the prices on that page will be a bit higher from the point of view that if you can afford to pay for an expensive phone, you have resources to exploit. Regarding travel, some sites track how many times you search for a particular hotel or plane tickets to a particular destination. In that case, the site will increase the price the more times you do similar searches, as the agency will assume that you are highly interested and hence ready to pay a higher price. The prices can also depend on which county your search comes from. A VPN solution will help you to make it look like they are random searches and make it look like the searches are from a country where you can get a lower price.
Here is a couple of extra tips that will help you to get a cheaper air ticket or hotel.
- Delete your cookies before you do a search
- Make sure you have setup your browser to use ”incognito mode” – this stops your browser from sharing information about where you are located.
You will easily be able to save as much on a single air ticket or hotel stay as a one year VPN subscription costs. Try to experiment with the country settings of the VPN app and see how the prices in some cases will change.
3 Get Better Prices When You Shop
It is not only air tickets, hotels, and other travel related products that can have different prices. It can also be physical products, like Apple notebooks, that can get more expensive if the data the online shop has collected about you indicates that you earn a higher income, live close to the seller, live in a country with higher incomes, or that you are a fan of that brand.
Some products or brands can be more expensive in some countries than in others. A great example is Levis Jeans. In the USA they are sold as a mainstream product whereas in Europe they are sold like a high-end product. Therefore, Europeans can get huge savings by buying the jeans in the US instead of Europe.
You will, therefore, be able to save money by using a VPN connection where you can make it look like you come from another country. This is particularly easy when it comes to digital products like computer games or e-books, but when it comes to physical products, you might risk that the online store refuses to ship the product to your physical address. But you don’t have to despair as several companies have specialized in providing local addresses and then reship the goods to your real address and some even help with the customs if it is required.
To be fair, we have to warn you that some online stores don’t like this and might ban you if they discover what you are up to. If it is vital for you to be able to buy from that online store in the future, we do suggest that you google the company to research what other customers have experienced regarding to the store’s policy about customers using virtual address services.
4 Bypass Foreign Governments Censorship
It might surprise you that you need a VPN connection for this reason if you are traveling, but numerous governments have blocked or put censorship on websites that we would consider to be harmless.
It is a known fact that the Chinese government has banned thousands of websites. News sites like The Independent, New York Times, and Bloomberg as well as social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram. Even webmail services like Google mail and cloud services like Dropbox.
China might be a more extreme case of a government that tries to put censorship on its citizens with their ”Great Firewall” but a long list of of other countries have put censorship on their internet, so you can easily be a situation where you suddenly can’t get access to your emails, files, or social media profiles.
The censorship doesn’t have to be permanent. Several countries have put legislation in place that allows the president or government to close websites temporarily to stop people from gathering together before an election and, in some cases, just if there is a critic or gossip about the leader of the country.This has happened in countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Tajikistan, Bangladesh but also countries like Germany and the UK.
If you have a VPN connection, you will never need to worry about if you will be able to access your emails, files, or favorite social media.
5 Don’t Miss Your Favorite TV Show or Music While Traveling
When you have spent a full day traveling, it is great to be able to relax with Netflix, HBO, or another streaming service. Or if you are traveling with kids, it is great to keep them occupied with their favorite shows from streaming services like Netflix while you are traveling by car or train.
Plus, you might want to watch the newest episode of your favorite show while you are traveling.
Unfortunately, most streaming services block some shows from being shown in selected countries, so you can easily experience problems watching your favorite show during your travels around the world.
The same is true for music streaming services like Spotify and a lot of sites of TV companies that only can be streamed locally. For example, BBC only been seen in the UK. You can also see it on YouTube where you can meet a page like this:
6 Don’t Miss Important Sports Events While Traveling
If you love sports and travel, it is very likely that your favorite team or athlete plays while you travel. Unfortunately, you will often be in the situation that you won’t be able to watch the game locally as the transmission of the game usually will be restricted geographically because of jurisdictional contracts and copyrights.
And unless it is a huge event, it will probably not even be shown locally.
By using a VPN connection, you will be able to make it look like you are back home and get around the geographical restrictions, so using a VPN connection while traveling is a great way to make sure that you can watch your favorite team, event, or athlete anytime anywhere.
7 Do Whatever You Like Anonymously When You Travel
You might think that when you are sitting completely alone with your phone or computer, reading or writing on the internet, or participating in an online chat that this is private and anonymous. However, there can be a lot of people that are looking over your shoulder and this is even more likely when you travel.
Governments all over the world keep track of and save your personal information without your knowledge. Even countries that you don’t expect to do this are often guilty in this behavior. But also a lot of websites track your activities and collect your data. The same holds true for a lot of local internet providers and some might even be forced to log this information because of the legislation of the countries they operate in.
In some countries, you even risk getting into trouble if you express negative opinions about the country, the government, the religion of the country, or about how the country treats its citizens.
The solution is to use a VPN connection, which will encrypt all your data, and you will be totally anonymous when you travel. By this method, no one will be able to look over your shoulder, and you will avoid getting into trouble for something you have said or done on the internet while you travel.
8 Protect Your Identity When You Make Financial Transactions
Financial transactions are some of the most interesting things for hackers, and some of the most profitable things to steal is your identity or information that makes it possible to gain control over your money. It can be something as simple as booking a hotel, scheduling an Uber, or when you transfer money between your bank accounts while you travel or pay your bills.
A VPN connection will encrypt all the data that is transferred between you and your bank or the website where you book or order something so that nobody can snap up your data and empty your bank account.
It has to be said that banks have some sort of encryption already, but with a VPN connection you will step up the security even further. The hackers will not even be able to see that you are looking at your online bank.
9 Be Sure to be Able to Use Your Chat Apps When You Travel
Most countries that have problems with basic rights of freedom seriously don’t like VOIP services like Skype or WhatsApp, as their surveillance of their citizen becomes harder, and the services that make it possible for their population to get access to opinions that differ than the “official” views from the government. They will, therefore, block services like Skype and WhatsApp.
This is true for countries such as China, Egypt, Cuba, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia, and as you can see, there are some very popular tourist destinations among them.
But it is not only countries that block the use of VOIP, as many internet providers set restrictions for the use of VOIP or give low priority to VOIP traffic, so you can run into trouble trying to use Skype in countries like Australia or New Zealand.
By using a VPN connection, you can hide what type of traffic you are sending over the internet, and it will be a lot harder to block the VOIP traffic. This way you will always be able to communicate no matter where you are and you can do it in full privacy.
10 Avoid Geographical Specific Content When You Travel
A lot of websites show different content depending on which country the request is coming from. One example is the search results from Google, which will show different content depending what country or geographical location your request is coming from. The result will, of course, be that when you travel, you will get local content from the place you are staying instead of from back home. This is great if you are looking for a local restaurant, but if you are looking for other information, it might become a problem.
With a VPN connection, you can get around this and make it look like you come from different geographical locations, and easily get the information you are looking for.
11 Avoid Blocked Access to Your Bank Account
Most banks will keep an eye on which geographical location you log into your online bank, and if you suddenly change your patterns, your bank’s systems might raise a red flag. In some cases, this will protect you as it can be because somebody is actually trying to hack your bank account, and if that is the case, you will be happy your bank protected you.
In other cases, it can easily be a problem if you are abroad and need to transfer money. Things like that usually happen when the bank back home is closed, so you can’t call the bank and ask them to remove the blocking of the online access In some cases, you might even have to mail physical documentation to prove you are the rightful owner of the account. Not something easily done while you are traveling
This can also happen when you have a PayPal account, and to get in contact with PayPal is next to impossible. You will end up spending a lot of time trying to get access to your money, and you might as well create a new account.
By using a VPN-connection when you login to your bank while you are traveling, you will make it look like you are back home and you avoid the risk of getting your access to your bank account blocked or lose access to your money.
12 Download Files Anonymously
It is probable that you would like to download material while you are traveling. It could be files that are shared over peer-to-peer networks or directly from the server at your office back in your home. Unfortunately, there is a long list of different organizations that will try to snap up the data you are transmitting. It can be anything from foreign intelligence agencies to lawyers representing copyright organizations. Even if you are careful not to infringe somebody’s copyright, you can easily get into trouble, and this is particularly true if you are in a foreign country.
A wise way to make sure you are safe when you are downloading files is to use a VPN connection, particularly if you are using a peer-2-peer network.
Always Protect You Electronics When You Travel
We are going to round off by emphasizing that you should always use a VPN connection when you travel. Particularly you should never do the following without a VPN connection while traveling – well maybe you shouldn’t do it at home either.
- Book hotels or hostels
- Use Paypal to pay for physical products or services.
- Check your bank accounts
- Watch content from country-specific streaming services.
- Shopping with a credit card
- Book tickets at an airline
- Apply for a visa online
- Checking your emails
- Using Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, or another social media
- Using Skype, Snapchat, WhatsApp or another VOIP app
- Update your blog – e.g., Blogger
- Using Google Search or Google Translate
There’s no doubt that a VPN-solution is a great investment when you are traveling because it will make your trips safer and fun.