It doesn’t matter if you are a solo traveler, group traveler, business traveler, frequent flyer, travel on a cruise ship, or simply travel to your nearby coffee shop.
For the love of god, please use a VPN when you are traveling!
The internet is a far more dangerous place than you may think. Here is a list of reasons why you should use a VPN while traveling the world.
1) Travel VPNs Keep Your Connection Secure:
When you connect to public, or private Wi-Fi networks, there is a risk of hackers accessing your data. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it difficult for others to access, intercept, and/or copy your personal information.
These could be documents saved on your phone and/or computer, or they could be passwords that you use to sign into social media or your bank account.
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) can protect you from hackers gaining access to your private information in several ways:
They Use Encryption:
When your VPN is active, all of the data that is transmitted between your laptop or phone, and the VPN server, is encrypted.
If a hacker is somehow able to get a hold of some of your transferred data, they would not be able to view any of the information because the information would need to be deciphered. Without the encryption code, even the most advanced hacker would not be able to view your files.
This largely depends on how strong the encryption is of your VPN provider. I always recommend this VPN company because of their military grade encryption, along with any other features.
They Use Secure Tunneling:
VPN tunneling is a strong technique used to create a secure connection, or ‘tunnel’ between your device and the VPN server.
This means that the data is first encrypted and then sent through the tunnel to the other network (usually the VPN server), where it is then decrypted and delivered to its destination (usually the website that you are browsing).
This allows data to be transmitted securely and privately, as everything is encrypted.
They Use Hide Your IP Address:
Your IP address is a distinct number that identifies your computer and location in the world, down to the exact street or building you are in.
When you use a VPN, your IP address is replaced with the IP address of the VPN server. This makes it difficult for hackers to track your online activity or determine the real location of your device.
They Use a Firewall:
Some VPNs use built-in firewalls, such as packet filtering, stateful inspection, application-level gateways, and intrusion detection/prevention.
This can prevent hackers from getting unauthorized access to your computer or exploiting vulnerabilities that are currently on your device or network.
They Use Malware Protection:
Some VPNs also offer malware protection by offering strong encryption tunneling, IP masking, or various forms of content filtering which can protect your device from malicious software and/or viruses.
2) Travel VPNs Help You Access Geo-Restricted Content:
Unfortunately, there are some websites or online services that may be unavailable to you simply because you are in a certain country. These online companies prevent you from accessing their service based on your physical location.
For example, if your favorite website blocks Indian computers from accessing it, and you are traveling in India, you will also not be able to access this website.
But if you turn on your VPN and switch to an American server, or any other server that the website accepts, the website will think that you are in the USA and therefore you will be able to access the site again.
This is because the website or internet service sees the IP address of the VPN server and not your actual IP address.
Being able to bypass geo restricted content is particularly useful for accessing streaming services such as Netflix, while traveling abroad.
3) Travel VPNs Keep Your Connection Private:
Think your internet traffic is private? Think again. It is very common for government entities, internet service providers, and social media companies to track everywhere that you go and everything that you do on the internet. This is just about as creepy as it gets.
There are a few ways that travel VPNs can help to protect your online privacy:
Masking Your IP Address:
As mentioned before, VPNs hide your true IP address by using the IP address of the server, rather than your own personal device.
Again, encryption scrambles your online data, making it unreadable to anyone who does not have the encryption key, such as hackers. Your data could be in the form of internet traffic, audio, video, photos, documents, or literally anything else that’s digital.
Some VPN companies block everyone from seeing your search history, but they themselves have access to your history and also keep logs about where you go and what you do on the internet. Your traffic is encrypted, but they have the access key. It kind of defeats the purpose of staying anonymous.
If a government agency calls your VPN company and demands that they hand over your logs, they will be legally obligated to do so.
It is extremely important to use a VPN company that does not keep logs of any type. If they do, they can trace your online activity back to you or give it to government agencies. Only use a company with a strict no-log policy!
Ad and Tracker Blocking:
Some VPNs come with a built-in ad and tracker blocker which blocks features that can prevent websites and advertisers from tracking your online activities.
Google is a big perpetrator of this. If you visit a website and you are served an ad, the cookie is now on your computer. Google can later read that cookie and know that it is you browsing the internet even though your data is encrypted. Sneaky! Using a VPN with an ad blocker provides an extra layer of security and privacy.
4) VPNs Help You Get Around Censorship:
Government censorship around the world is increasing, silently, often without citizens even knowing about it.
Governments may try to hide websites containing certain ideologies that are in opposition to their own political party, for example.
Other times, it is the internet service providers themselves that hide or block websites from loading on your phone or computer. These internet service providers often work closely with a local government.
The good news is that VPNs help to fight back. Most of the censorship is done based on IP addresses and geolocation. A good VPN has the ability to combat both of those.
Using a Travel VPN can help you avoid censorship by providing you with a secure and private connection to the internet that makes it difficult for your online activities to be monitored by unwanted parties. However, it’s important to note that some governments actively block VPNs, so it’s important to choose a VPN that has a strong reputation for privacy and security and has a large number of servers located in different countries.
So when you are traveling abroad, and you want to be able to browse websites outside of the wall of censorship, make sure you turn on your travel VPN.
5) VPN’s Help You to Save Money:
Some travel websites, such as airline or hotel sites, may charge different prices depending on your location. This is called ‘Dynamic Pricing’.
What is Dynamic Pricing?
Dynamic pricing is a technique used by online retailers and travel booking websites which allows them to adjust prices based on factors such as your location, browsing history, and other personal pieces of information.
This means that if two people are searching for the same product or service online, they both may be offered different prices based on their personal data. This is rather frustrating.
By using a VPN, you can mask your IP address and location, making it difficult for dynamic pricing algorithms to target and take advantage of you.
When you are searching for flights or hotels in a specific area, it’s best to take note of those prices, then switch to a different VPN server to see if there is a change in price. Switch servers several times until you find the cheapest price. Be sure to read the step by step process to help you avoid dynamic pricing on your next airline ticket.
Keep in mind that not all websites use dynamic pricing, and so therefore, switching a VPN to different servers may not always result in a price change. But many airline companies use this tactic.
Travel VPNs are a Must-Have
As you can see, using a VPN while traveling can enhance your security, provide access to geo-restricted content, increased privacy, save money on airline tickets, and also give you the ability to avoid censorship.
The main reason why I use a VPN while traveling is for security. The thought of a hacker gaining access to my bank account, my social media, or some other password is terrifying.
The best line of defense is to have a good VPN with many of the features listed above, especially a strong level of encryption. Defense is your best strategy. Don’t wait until it’s too late.