Using a VPN When Travelling – What You Need to Know
Using a VPN When Travelling: VPN usage continues to rise throughout the developed world, particularly in the UK and US.
More specifically, some 44% of UK Internet users have used a VPN at some point in their lives, while a further 41% of people in the UK and US have used a VPN at least once during the previous week.
This trend has been observed as awareness surrounding VPNs and their potential applications have increased, with this helping to drive demand across a much broader selection of demographics.
In this post, we’ll look at why you should use a VPN while traveling, and how this can improve your experience when moving between different countries!
What is a VPN?
We’ll start by addressing the question of ‘what is a VPN?’, which may be on the tip of your tongue if you’re new to the technology.
Well, a VPN describes a virtual private network, which essentially creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and a virtual server. It’s through this that your web traffic and data is routed, with the information presented as an indecipherable string of code to hackers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
At the same time, a VPN client utilises its various server locations to mask your device’s IP address and physical location, creating a number of benefits that include safeguarding you from harmful practices such as doxxing and malware attacks.
Why Would You Use a VPN?
The next question to address is ‘what does a VPN do?’, as we look to translate the core benefits of a VPN into practical features that can benefit users.
By establishing an encrypted tunnel through which data is shared, VPNs create an additional layer of network security regardless of what you’re doing online.
This is particularly beneficial when surfing public networks, which are unsecured and often targeted by hackers who create rogue but familiar-sounding access points that unsuspecting users can connect too.
In this scenario, both hackers and network managers can observe and intercept your activity without a virtual private network in place, but installing a paid VPN client can minimise this risk significantly.
This is highly relevant to travellers too, who are often required to connect to public or semi-public Wi-Fi networks (such as those available at hotels and airports) that potentially put the data on your smartphone or laptop at risk.
The key is to select the right type and quality of VPN client, of course, but we’ll have more on this a little later in the piece.
From a traveller’s perspective, another relevant advantage of using a VPN is its ability to mask your device’s IP address and physical location. It does this by enabling you to connect to an international server location of your choice, tricking ISPs and other service providers into thinking you’re somewhere else entirely.
This affords you access to sites and apps that would otherwise be restricted by geographical laws and regulations.
Take Netflix, for example, which operates complex licensing agreements with creators that dictate precisely where content can be shown. As a result, the streaming service features different content libraries in alternative jurisdictions, meaning that you may be unable to access your favourite shows while travelling abroad.
The range of content available varies widely from one country to another. Certainly, you’ll find considerably more programs in the US and UK content libraries, especially when compared to regions such as Spain.
So, by identifying a VPN client that operates multiple server locations and provides an impressive density of coverage, you can optimise your access to Netflix content even when travelling from one region to another.
The same rule applies to other sites and streaming platforms too, including Hulu, BBC iPlayer and international websites that offer access to global sporting action.
The Bottom Line
On a similar note, a VPN can also circumnavigate censorship restrictions, with popular sites like Facebook, Amazon and Netflix banned in certain countries (such as China).
This is a huge benefit when traveling extensively or spending considerable amounts of time overseas, although you should note that the use of VPNs itself is illegal or heavily restricted in certain countries.
So, while there are huge advantages of utilising a VPN while travelling, it’s important to check the laws and regulations in specific locations so that you can make an informed decision going forward.
When it comes to locating the best VPN client, we’d recommend prioritising those that are paid and offer access to the highest density of international server locations.
This affords you access to superior privacy features and makes it much easier to maintain a strong connection while travelling, without forcing you to invest in an expensive subscription.