Whether traveling for business or pleasure, it’s often necessary to have access to the same platforms as at home, such as banking, credit cards, and financial services, communication applications (such as WhatsApp and Skype), and streaming services. For instance, you may want to watch content from Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, or Sling TV, yet these services may be restricted depending on your region. Additionally, you face government-imposed restrictions on access to websites like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
To get access to these and other geo-restricted sites, the best option is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). While traveling abroad, a VPN may help by hiding your precise physical location and creating the illusion that you are someplace else, deceiving prohibited websites into granting you access.
A VPN establishes and secures your internet connection, preventing it from being monitored by Internet service providers (ISPs), hackers, or government agencies. This is particularly critical when traveling since you’ll almost certainly be using a cellular connection and exposing your device to public wifi networks, which are great targets for hackers.
How do I configure a VPN?
Using a VPN is quite simple. To begin, just follow these easy steps:
- Install the VPN client software on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
- Ascertain that you are doing so straight from the appropriate app store or the VPN provider’s website.
- Rep for each gadget.
- Open the app and follow the instructions shown on your screen by the firm.
- Restart all devices once the installation is complete.
- When you’re back online, launch the VPN software and connect to a server in your desired area.
- The application will operate in the background, but make sure not to accidentally disconnect it.
- Congrats! You may now use the internet in the same way you did at home but with your online habits kept secret.
Note: Wi-Fi networks and internet speeds are contingent upon the country’s total online connection. Using a VPN connection will not increase speed or provide you with the same level of access as you do at home, and the encryption element will result in some performance degradation. If you’re going to nations with limited internet access, such as those in the Horn of Africa, keep in mind that a VPN is only as good as the internet connection it’s connected to.
The best virtual private network (VPN) service for international travelers
After you’ve grasped the critical nature of a VPN while you’re not connected to a trustworthy internet network, the next step is to choose a service. The following information provides an overview of what we believe to be the best VPN for international travel:
NordVPN is our top pick when it comes to VPNs for overseas travel. This VPN is the quickest we’ve tested and routinely maintains steady connections. It’s tried and true to circumvent government-imposed limits on internet services and unblock geo-restricted streaming services. It works well in China, which is beneficial for individuals who visit there often.
This provider does not retain any user data and hence qualifies as a logless service. Simultaneously, NordVPN adheres to stringent security requirements, which include 256-bit encryption, the OpenVPN protocol, a kill switch, and DNS leak prevention.
You may effortlessly bypass limitations on US Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and ESPN using this service. The software is very adjustable, allowing customers to choose a server location that optimizes certain operations, such as streaming high-definition video, using a double VPN, or using Tor over VPN. The website has a knowledge base that walks you through the procedure if you get stuck.
Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, and MacOS applications are available. The basic package supports concurrent connections on multiple devices.
Should I use a free VPN for international travel?
When traveling overseas, the major purposes of utilizing a VPN are to safely and securely view your favorite entertainment channels, use public wifi networks, and conduct online financial activities. The caveat is that the technology you employ to conceal your location must utilize powerful encryption algorithms and provide a decent user experience. While the VPN we’ve mentioned in this post will undoubtedly do that, don’t hold your breath for free choices.
Free VPN providers invest in insufficient cloaking technology and are not interested in delivering the same product as paying ones. While you may be able to connect to a server, you should expect to be flooded with spammy adverts and frequent interruptions attempting to urge you to subscribe to a premium service. Due to the high number of users and the limited number of servers, free VPNs often experience server overload. As a result, free VPNs are ineffective for data-intensive online activities such as streaming video, playing online games, or even accessing banking and financial services.
Numerous unethical and unscrupulous providers have been detected unlawfully collecting and selling user data to third-party advertising. Others have infected host devices with malware, and one has even gone so far as to use idle bandwidth to develop botnet armies.
Contracts bind streaming providers such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Sling TV to limit their media content to IP addresses from specified regions. They face millions of dollars in fines if they are proven to be breaking this pledge. That is why such entertainment behemoths invest a disproportionate amount of money in bolstering their internet security to identify and ban VPNs. Their network managers are likely to identify free VPNs simply since they lack an encrypted layer.
However, the smart and powerful VPN services that we’ve mentioned will effortlessly protect your location.
How do I choose an international VPN service that is good for me?
VPN services are widely available on the internet. Certain users may fall into the trap of believing they are all identical. However, the fact is that VPN services differ significantly, and you should exercise care and caution while selecting one that meets your demands.
Consider the following things when selecting a service:
Certain VPN providers offer thousands of servers, while others offer just a few hundred. There is no hard and fast rule on which is superior, but one factor to consider is the location of the servers. You do not desire a large concentration in a single place at the expense of the rest of the planet. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are used to connect to content from home and to unblock social media sites that may be prohibited. As a result, you should consider server alternatives in significant nations and the areas to which you want to connect. For instance, if you’re an Australian traveling overseas, you should check the availability of servers in Australia to stay connected to your home country’s content.
Number of concurrent connections
When traveling in a group, such as with friends or family, you may wish to invest in a VPN subscription that enables you to share the service. In this manner, the cost per person may be reduced to less than $1 each month.
Platforms that are supported
Before selecting a provider, ensure that the service is compatible with your chosen platforms. If you use both a PC and an Android device, you’ll want the VPN service to function on both. Not all VPN providers provide applications for every platform. For instance, just a few VPNs provide a Fire Stick app, and even fewer offer a Linux GUI. If you have any doubts about a provider’s compatibility with your device, it’s a good idea to contact customer assistance before buying a subscription.
Simple to install and configure
While VPN services use advanced engineering, this does not imply that they should be difficult to configure and install. The finest services make it simple for customers to register, install, and browse the available alternatives. You should be able to download the native program, log in, and then let the app take care of the rest with a few clicks. Anything above that indicates a clumsy user experience, which you should avoid.
What additional security precautions should I observe when traveling?
While a VPN should take care of most of your concerns, here are a few more actions you should take to ensure your trip works smoothly:
Whenever feasible, choose a strong password and activate two-factor authentication. Certain Android phones feature an option that allows the device to unlock itself if it senses the user is nearby. Turn this option off, since a burglar might steal your phone and quickly have access to its contents. Before leaving your home country, update all your device software to ensure that all security patches are fully working and that you are secured to the maximum extent feasible. Daily backups ensure that critical information, like images or business papers, is securely transferred to the cloud and will always be available, even if your device is lost or stolen.
How can I get WhatsApp and similar applications that are restricted in my country?
Your travels may lead you to distant locations where internet freedom and personal liberty are not guaranteed. As a result, you may notice that commonly used services like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Skype are restricted.
According to Freedom House, WhatsApp, for example, is prohibited or limited in the following countries:
- Saudi Arabia
- The Gambia
- United Arab Emirates
In some of these nations, WhatsApp’s whole feature set will be prohibited, while others will restrict access to voice and video calls solely. In any event, you’ll want to maintain contact with family and friends back home.
In this case, all you need to do is ensure that your device has a VPN downloaded and installed before boarding the airline. It is essential to do so before departure since VPNs are also restricted in some countries. If you wait until you arrive in the target country to visit the VPN website, it is conceivable that local ISPs may prevent you from doing so.
Once you’ve arrived, just activate the VPN software, connect to a server in a location where you’re certain WhatsApp will operate (such as the US, Canada, or Europe), and use the chat program only when the connection has been established successfully.
It’s worth noting that VPNs are themselves restricted in certain regions. We offer separate tutorials on how to use a VPN in China and how to use a VPN in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
VPN FAQs for international travelers
Why should I use a VPN when traveling?
Travelers often have difficulties connecting to the internet through new networks. For example, open wi-fi hotspots are available in hotels, airports, cafés, and restaurants. Hackers and internet service providers may compromise these hotspots. Additionally, hackers may create their own wi-fi hotspots and deceive users into connecting to them.
A VPN encrypts all internet data between your device and the VPN server. This prohibits anybody monitoring the Wi-Fi network from deciphering any data they may intercept.
Travelers visiting countries where the internet is censored may use VPNs to circumvent government-imposed restrictions on websites and applications. This is critical for communication and information retrieval from home.
Finally, VPNs unlock geo-restricted content. If you’re unable to access a streaming service due to geographical limitations, a VPN can often circumvent such limits.
How can I access websites and applications that are prohibited when traveling abroad?
If you’re heading to a country where the internet is controlled, there’s a significant probability that VPN websites will also be blocked. Keep this in mind when purchasing a VPN and downloading the app well in advance of your trip.
After installing the VPN on your smartphone or laptop, all you have to do is run the software, choose a location, and click the Connect button. After a few seconds of connection establishment, you’ll be able to access banned applications and websites. While you are using other applications, the VPN will remain connected in the background.
How can I ensure the security of my wi-fi connection when traveling?
Because hackers might hijack or fake Wi-Fi hotspots, it is critical to utilize a VPN to safeguard your connection. This is particularly important if you want to use any websites that require you to enter a password or financial information.
Simply launch your VPN app and login after connecting to a new Wi-Fi network. Once the connection is established, all data sent over the internet is encrypted.
Certain VPN applications provide an automated connection option that connects your device to the VPN when it detects that you’re connected to a new or unprotected network. This is advantageous if, like me, you often forget to switch on the VPN manually.
Is it legal to use a VPN in all countries?
In virtually every nation, using a VPN is completely legal. You may see a list of countries where VPN usage is prohibited or limited here.
Can I avoid roaming costs by using a VPN?
No, a VPN will not assist you in avoiding roaming fees. Your phone service provider can still tell from which location you are connected to the internet, but not from which location you are connected.
Can VPN service providers be relied upon?
The VPN we suggest has a track record of ensuring customers’ privacy is protected. They do not submit warrantless information requests from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, have not had any significant data breaches, use robust and up-to-date security measures, and do not track your behavior. However, not all VPN companies are trustworthy, and we suggest sticking with established ones.
Is Google Maps compatible with a VPN?
Yes, Google Maps continues to operate on both desktop and mobile devices while using a VPN. On mobile devices, Google Maps determines your position using cell tower and GPS signals, which is distinct from the location information concealed by your VPN—your IP address.
Can a VPN help you save money on flights?
Using a VPN enables you to book cheaper flights. This, however, is not a guarantee. Flight prices (and indeed, many other items and services available online) fluctuate according to your location. As a result, it’s worthwhile to connect to servers in many different countries to compare pricing. Simply remember to delete the cache and cookies on your browser between each new connection to ensure that the website in question forgets about your prior IP address.
Is a portable router required to use a VPN?
No, a VPN does not need a portable router to function. Indeed, not all travel routers support VPNs (and vice versa). All you need is an internet connection to utilize a VPN. This may be accomplished by Wi-Fi or mobile data, for example. Simply launch the VPN software and connect to a server in your desired location once you are connected to the internet. Then you’re ready to go!