When you travel, you probably bring your cell phone, tablet, and laptop. This is especially true if you work while traveling abroad. One challenge you could face is that your personal data, passwords, and files get exposed.
The reason this happens with greater frequency while traveling abroad is that to access the Internet you must rely on public Wi-Fi networks, perhaps in your hotel or at a coffee shop. Using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks offers hackers one of the easiest ways to steal information from your device.
You have probably experienced the frustration of wanting to watch your favorite show on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime only to realize that the show has been blocked or that the show is not available in a particular country. This is frustrating but easily solved by connecting to a VPN. Let’s look at seven reasons you should be using a VPN when traveling overseas.
1. Protect Your Personal Data When Using Public Wi-Fi
Many public Wi-Fi networks are open. This means their connection is unencrypted. As a result, it’s easy for hackers and other nefarious individuals to use these networks to steal your credit card information, information sent via email, and other personal details. Hackers can infiltrate unsecured Wi-Fi networks using tools like packet analyzers.
Public Wi-Fi networks allow for man in the middle attacks. These are where attackers will eavesdrop on the information being sent and received by your computer and exploit real-time transactions with the goal of stealing your personal information. Other dangers include malware and fake networks. These can be negated with a VPN.
2. Get Access to Blocked Sites
A VPN allows you to disguise your activity from government entities. This may not be something that you need to think about if you live in countries with free access to the Internet. However, when you travel overseas, especially to countries like China, Iran, Oman, or the United Arab Emirates, this becomes a big deal.
In these countries, the Internet is heavily censored. Websites that you visit freely in your home country, including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Skype, may be blocked or monitored. The only way that you are able to access these social media sites is by using a VPN. For example, if you are in China and connect to Facebook using a server in France, you will access Facebook because they do not ban it in France. But first, you need to check where your VPN provider’s servers are placed around the world to ensure more stable and faster connection.
3. Access Content from Your Home Country
Did you know that companies that do business around the world tailor the content on their websites to the audience they are targeting? Therefore, if you log into a website for electronic manufacturers, like Canon, Dell, or Gateway, from outside of the country, you are given the option to view the website design for the United States. The products and services that are offered to the US may differ from those offered in El Salvador.
If you are a gamer, you may like to download content off of Steam. However, if you are in Panama and your Steam account is based in the United States, you may not see offers that are available in the United States. And since your credit card is linked to the US, you can’t buy new services or update your games. Having a VPN can help you get around this.
4. Avoid Government Surveillance
Many countries around the world lack the restrictions on government surveillance that people have become accustomed to living in countries like the United States, Great Britain, or Switzerland. In these countries people can say just about whatever they want to say about politicians or political parties online. They do not have to fear reprisal from the government.
However, there are many countries where saying something negative about the government online is illegal. The government monitors the Internet activity of its citizens. It has surprised many foreigners to find themselves arrested overseas because they commented on a political issue. They received a rude reminder that free speech is not a guaranteed right in every country.
While it’s best to measure your speech, especially what you write online, when visiting a foreign country, a VPN could help you avoid government surveillance and give you the freedom to discuss topics that would otherwise be considered taboo.
5. Get Better Deals, Including Cheaper Flights
Believe it or not, airlines will adjust the cost of their flights based on the country of origin of the purchaser. A VPN could allow you to choose a lower income country and see how the price changes. You may not see hundreds of dollars of difference, but you may find the same ticket for between $50 and $70 less.
Another option is to change your IP to the country from which the airline originates. Again, it will not cut the price of your flight in half, but it could save you $50 or $60. Those savings add up, especially if you are a world traveler.
6. Prevent Your Bank Account from Getting Frozen While Traveling Abroad
Every traveler has had the experience of swiping their credit card in a new country before they informed their bank they were traveling. Their credit card shuts down, and they are unable to access their funds.
The same thing happens if you check your online account from a foreign country. Your bank may see this as a suspicious activity and block you. The same thing can happen if you try to access PayPal. Nothing can be worse than being on vacation and not having access to the money that you need. However, if you use a VPN, it will be as if you were checking your bank account or your credit card account from your country of origin.
7. Keep Your Internet Activity Private
Using a VPN, regardless of where you are in the world, will prevent your ISP from viewing your Internet activity. Some people don’t care about this type of surveillance because they say that they are not doing anything illegal or morally wrong. Still, there are valid reasons for you to want to protect your privacy. The information that’s being stored about you can be sold to others or can be used to target you with advertisements online.
If you travel this year, take steps to protect your digital security. By installing a reputable VPN, you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your online activity is not being tracked, intercepted, or manipulated.