One of the most important parts of my travel is being able to access Internet when on the road – my work and travels are no longer separated compared to back when I started this site in 1996. I am continuously creating content when traveling, working with various travel related brands including tour operators, hotels and tourism boards and doing select social media projects. Perhaps some might look at this as always taking work with me when traveling and not being able to enjoy trips – but that is not the case. I’m able to set aside time specifically for work while having enjoyable experiences traveling. This blurring of work/travel is the reason why I can travel so much.
Having a secure form of Internet is also very important in an age where public wifi is seemingly ubiquitous and not always secure. Watching a friend hack into secured networks numerous times and retrieve the passwords in about 10 minutes is a testament to how easily networks can be broken into if they are not setup with security in mind.
Which brings me the need to use a VPN when travelling. Virtual Private Networks, VPN’s have been around for quite some time; I first discovered a need for a VPN many years ago when I was traveling in China. I had read that numerous sites were blocked such as Facebook and Twitter but it didn’t really hit home until I was Couchsurfing in Shanghai, connected to my hosts’ wifi and needed to communicate with friends and post some social media updates for clients.
Here I was in a major city and I was completely blocked from sites I used on a daily basis. Needless to say, it was quite frustrating. Fortunately at the time I was able to connect to a remote server based in California via special software and bypass all the security lock-downs on these sites. However that was in the earlier days of the Internet – fortunately today connecting to a VPN is much easier.
I’ve also been in a number of countries (usually in Asia) where seemingly harmless sites (non social-media sites) are censored by the local Internet Service Provider. Using a VPN, one does not have to worry about being censored like this.
Using a VPN as a work around to access blocked websites is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of using a Virtual Private Network.
Connecting to a VPN overseas mimics being in your own country – and as a result has numerous benefits when traveling overseas. Loading websites will appear as you are in your home country rather then in the language of the country you are currently in. This is especially advantageous when traveling in countries where you do not speak the language. It is always a hassle when trying to load a site like PayPal in say French (I don’t speak or read French) and having to figure our where to click on the convert to English link. Or when browsing news items overseas – often I’m presented a limited amount of items or articles in other languages.
A VPN will help avoid security issues especially involving transferring sensitive files from the cloud or a remote server.
And often a real hassle when trying to book airfare from overseas for security reasons and overseas booking often triggers a security code texted to your home base cell phone number and either your home sim card doesn’t work overseas or you have no way to access this code. A VPN mimicking an IP address in your home country will often (but not always) help mitigate this.
And I’ve heard about airline sites offering different prices for tickets based on the destination location showing from particular IP addresses. And furthermore I’ve personally experienced airline price changes after querying the same route multiple times from the same IP. Using a VPN to show a different IP may help counter act this practice.
Do you have any experiences using a VPN when traveling? Have you been in situations where you wished you were connected to a VPN? Drop us a note in the comments field below!