Full disclosure I am an affiliate for the product mentioned and if you buy using the provided link, I get a small commission.
Like many people I have read for years about the dangers of using open wi-fi when Traveling but I didn’t do much about it. Today I use a VPN when traveling and also at home. Why use a VPN? It’s simple, it keeps your data safe from prying eyes and creates a safe, private browsing experience by giving you an encrypted connection to the internet.
What Is A VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure tunnel between your computer or smart phone and the internet.
Reasons To Use A VPN
There are several reasons you should use a VPN when traveling or anywhere for that matter.
Hide your internet activity
Your Internet Service Provider knows everything that you do online. Have you ever done a search for something online and afterwards you start seeing ads for those products? Done a search for health insurance and start getting phone calls from companies? That is because everything you do is tracked and in a lot of cases your data is sold.
Bypass government censorship
Many countries restrict access to certain internet sites. For example in China restricts access to Google, Facebook and YouTube. Sometimes during civil unrest countries will deny access to social media sites. Some countries block outside news services or other websites. Using a VPN allows you access to these websites.
Use public Wi-Fi without risks
Public Wi-Fi is everywhere. From supermarkets, hotels, coffee shops and airports you can find a Wi-Fi connection almost anywhere you go. The danger in using public Wi-Fi is cyber criminals use public Wi-Fi to steal your data, see all your internet traffic, steal credit card info, install malware or spyware and more. You may not even be connecting to the right Wi-Fi. Let’s say you check into a Hilton and the available Wi-Fi connections show “Hilton”, “Hilton Lobby” “Hilton Patio” “Hilton1”, etc. Which one is real and which one is a hacker looking to steal your info? A VPN makes you untraceable on public Wi-Fi.
Access Streaming Services anywhere
Depending on where you are, you might not be able to get Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime streaming services. By using a VPN you can connect through another country allowing you to enjoy streaming services no matter where you are.
Secure your VOIP phone calls
VOIP services offer you a cheap way to make phone calls over the internet. For a hacker with a little knowledge it isn’t hard to gain access to your calls. Using a VPN will ensure your phone calls remain private.
Services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Snapchat make it easy to chat to anyone, anywhere. Most of the time it is just personal conversations but sometimes you might use it for business. You might also be discussing a lot of personal info that you don’t want shared. Using a VPN can give you peace of mind knowing your conversations are secure from people trying to gain access.
Bypass restrictions in work/school
Many business and schools restrict access to certain websites while using their services. Many social media sites are blocked along with YouTube and torrent sites. While it may not be wise to violate your company or school policy a VPN allows access to these blocked sites.
Stop Google from tracking you
Like the commercial says, “What did we do before Google?”. We had a lot more privacy for sure. Google tracks everything you do when you use it. It tracks, location, buying habits, search history, search preferences and more. I have pretty much quit using Google and rely on Duck Duck Go. They do not track anything. In fact they recently released DuckDuckGo Tracker Radar showing all the people tracking you online. But using a VPN will also stop Googles prying eyes making your internet searches and history untraceable by them.
Stay Anonymous When Booking Flights, Hotels and Car Rentals
They will deny it but the fact is airlines, hotel and car rental booking sites use something called dynamic pricing. A fancy term that means you and I get different prices when searching for the same thing. Some of these factors include the country you are searching from, frequent-flier status, brand loyalty, past buying behavior, and several other factors. By using a VPN you bypass all of that since they have no idea who you are and you can connect from a server in another country. In many cases you will see a huge savings.
While a lot of people use BitTorrent to illegally download TV shows and movies, there are a lot of people that use it for legal reasons. BitTorrent allows you share large files such as audio or video and many ISP’s don’t support Torrent downloads due to a lot of people using it for piracy. If you do find an ISP that allows using Torrent you will probably be tracked by the government and various copywrite agencies. While I do not recommend using BitTorrent for illegal uses, a VPN makes your use of BitTorrent anonymous.
Secure Your Online Banking Activities
You probably don’t want people knowing about your bank or credit card accounts and all the info they contain. If you are using your smartphone to do a little banking, traveling or sitting at home on your PC you don’t want your identity stolen because of a hacker checking out your activities. Using a VPN adds another layer of security to your banking activities by cloaking your device so hackers can’t access it. When traveling your bank might deny online access if you are in another country but you can use a VPN and connect using a server in your home country.
The bottom line is that when you are online everything you do is being tracked and anyone with a little knowledge can access your unencrypted data. Things like usernames, passwords, browsing history, credit cards, bank accounts and more are open for the taking. By using a VPN your data is encrypted making it impossible for a hacker to access it.
Is Using A VPN Legal?
As long as you are not using it for illegal purposes, VPN’s are legal in most countries.
There are some activities that violate the VPN terms of Service, such as:
Email and account hacking
Spamming via email or other ways
Fraud, theft, scamming
There are some countries where VPN’s are regulated or are illegal.
China – Banned unless the VPN provider is approved by the government
Russia – Banned unless the VPN provider is approved by the government
Iran – Banned, punishable by up to 1 year in prison
UAE – Banned for private use, fines range from $136,130 to $544,521. Legal for corporations.
Oman – Banned for private use. Legal for institutions.
Turkey – Restricted, rules change frequently.
Iraq – Banned for all use.
Turkmenistan – Banned for all use.
Belarus – Banned for all use.
North Korea – Banned for citizens. Tourists can legally use.
The best VPN for Travel
I only recommend products and services that I use. When I began looking at VPN services to find the best one I did a lot of research. I looked at the ones that had the best ratings, had been around for a while, offered good internet speed and one I felt completely comfortable recommending. Only one company met all my requirements, Express VPN
Tech Radar rated Express VPN as “The best all-round VPN service for speed, privacy and unblocking”
Toms Guide rated Express VPN as “Simply the best VPN money can buy – ExpressVPN came top in almost all aspects of our testing”
Express VPN allows you to connect from 160 locations and 94 countries.
ExpressVPN does NOT and WILL NEVER log:
IP addresses (source or VPN)
Traffic destination or metadata
What ExpressVPN collects and why:
ExpressVPN collects minimal information about your usage of their services:
- Apps and app versions successfully activated
- Dates (not times) when connected to the VPN service
- Choice of VPN server location
- Total amount (in MB) of data transferred per day
None of the above data enables ExpressVPN or anyone else to match an individual to specific network activity or behavior. They are unable to answer questions related to data that we do not possess, such as how a customer has used their VPN service.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN service for those that
- Want the fastest VPN on the market
- People who want the most secure VPN
- People who travel and want secure connections worldwide
- Travelers that want the ability to stream videos and access social media sites
- People who use their smartphone to connect to the internet
I use Express VPN all the time whether at home or traveling and have been very happy with their service. So much so that I signed up as an affiliate and partnered with them to offer readers a great incentive.
For less than the price of a burger meal at a fast food joint you can have peace of mind when it comes to your online activity. You take precautions for safety when traveling isn’t it time you locked down your online data and secured it?