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VPN for Travel: The Complete Guide [2019]

TLTR: VPN are an essential tool, especially for travelers, to protect the internet users from leaking sensitive data such as banking information, passwords, and private information. They are also useful to navigate on blocked website (such as gmail, facebook, youtube, whatsapp, netflix, etc.) in certain countries. Travel Center recommend to use one of these 2 of the best VPN for travel in 2019: ProtonVPN for their strong security and strong legal policies and No-Logs feature, as well as NordVPN for their high number of endpoints.

man using a laptop on a rooftop

Travel takes us into different worlds and culture, exposing scenery, foods, and people we would otherwise not have encountered.

Yet even as we immerse ourselves in the unknown, there is a desire for connection that leaves us grasping for a tether. In the 21st century, this tether is none other than the internet.

Whether it is to keep track of things going on at home, or we are flailing about for linguistic translations, the internet has become an integral tool for any traveler.

We seek airport networks upon landing, connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi before unpacking and hunt down every open network out there. And in this hunt for connection, we often forget to protect ourselves against virtual dangers.

Here is where VPN (Virtual Private Network) comes in.

I- What is a VPN?

In very simple terms, a VPN acts like a smokescreen.

The issue with connecting to any random internet network is that open connections are often vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as sniffing.

Hackers can easily access your computer and data through the connection point as its shared nature means lowered protection.

Even if your privacy settings are on high, it doesn’t mean that other people using the same network as you can’t read your data.

As its name suggests, a Virtual Private Network secures a digital bubble around your connected device.

When you use your laptop, smartphone or tablet, the VPN connects these devices to the internet through a different server at another location on the planet. These servers are known as endpoints.

If that particular endpoint is in a different country, your computer will appear to be operating from that country instead of your real-time location.

In essence, you browse the internet using another computer’s internet connection.

People use VPNs for various reasons, including safeguarding themselves from unsafe Wi-Fi networks to hiding their location or to access websites with geographic restrictions.

A VPN is a digital bodyguard and a door opener at the same time.

So, by using the VPN while traveling, you will be able to:

  • Bypass geographic restrictions on websites for streaming audio and video.
  • Save money and find better deals (more on this below).
  • Binge stream media on Netflix and Hulu.
  • Safeguard yourself from snooping on unsafe Wi-Fi networks.
  • Protect yourself from being spied on.

II- Do I Need A VPN When I Travel?

Working on a laptop

Yes. Almost everyone who uses the internet benefits from using a VPN, especially for travelers, as it lowers substantial risk of digital dangers.

For one, business and casual travelers alike have no choice but to use open and free networks when the occasion deems it necessary. Putting their devices on shared connection points means a higher risk of discovery by unsavory internet lurkers, with the threat of getting their data exploited or stolen.

For those who like to work outside the confines of home or the office, VPN acts as a safeguard against open or semi-open networks like the free Wi-Fi provided by cafes, hotels, libraries and other public spaces.

Having a password protected device does little to prevent hacking as the medium is digital; at most, it will deter random passerby.

People who shop online face a major threat as well. While most verified sites have their own security procedures when it comes to digital payments (such as sending confirmation codes to your phone), skilled hackers can bypass your security measures.

In fact, experienced scammers may reroute your payment windows through their servers instead. Take note of the website’s payment process (you want them to be thorough even at the expense of your time) before sending money through, but to be on the safe side, apply a VPN to add another layer of security.

And of course, VPN is a one-for-all solution that also protects your entertainment rights.

Some countries such as China and Indonesia have blocked popular online streaming sites, and content sites including Netflix and Hulu are region locked.

If you would like to access geographically restricted content, VPN is the known key to the digital door.

III- Why Do You Need A VPN?

We have briefly covered what a VPN can do for you, but here we have outlined exactly why VPNs are a yes, please and not just a maybe:

1. You can have online security and privacy against hackers and governments

There isn’t much you can do against a determined hacker (although you are unlikely to come across one) but what you can do is make it much harder for casual sniffers to steal your passwords and access your emails.

Travelers, in particular, are driven towards public Wi-Fi where a lack of password makes it easy for other computers to connect to yours – your data becomes accessible.

Anything from the emails you sent, banking and transaction information, credit card details, various passwords and IDs you have saved on your device can be read.

With a VPN, you can make sure that data is securely encrypted.

2. You can access blocked websites

If only entertainment was globally ensured!

Using VPN, your access to blocked sites are two-fold – first, you can access sites that are only available in certain regions, and second, you can bypass media-blocks that a country enforces on certain websites.

Case in point – China blocks many conventional media and social media sites including Google and Facebook. Other countries such as Burma, Vietnam, and Thailand similarly limit the use of certain streaming sites.

Voice over Protocol services (like Skype, Facetime, and Whatsapp) are also blocked in the United Arab Emirates.

Use a VPN to select a country or an endpoint where the website is available, making it easy for you to stream, browse, chat, and share your adventures without any hindrance.

3. You can save money and find cheaper deals

A lesser-known benefit of getting a VPN is that by changing your location digitally, you get shown offers of the endpoint you are connected to.

Depending on your actual location versus endpoint location, you may score a better deal off flights and travel activities since prices are often based off location.

I, myself, I have already saved hundreds of US dollars on flights and car rental using this method! 🙂

4. You can securely access online banking, Paypal, and other money-services from abroad

By setting up a security wall between your data and the borrowed network, you can handle online payments without any stress.

Bank and Paypal digital security might not be something to scoff at, but your access point is a risk factor.

By buffing your computer with a VPN, you wrap yourself in twice the digital protection.

5. You can avoid problems with content censorship

Expanding on the entertainment angle, setting your endpoint in a different country also allows you to avoid potential media censorship.

VPN is a good way of swerving around the issue of posting or commenting on social media content that are not allowed in certain countries.

IV- What to look for in a VPN

When choosing a VPN provider, consider what fits your needs the most and what is most cost-effective.

You should compare the features and services of several VPN before settling for one; know that cheaper options tend to have a smaller number of endpoints but remain highly secure, whereas more expensive providers boast more functions.

Nevertheless, start with this checklist of things to look out for.

1. It should be user-friendly

Seek out a VPN that makes you want to use it!

It should have an excellent user interface and smart features like auto-connect and a speed calculator.

These small but effective tools help you decide how and when to best use the internet.

2. It should be compatible with your devices

Whether you are an Apple user or you prefer Android, make sure that the VPN app can be installed and used on your device.

If you carry an Android phone but own an iPad and a Windows laptop, you will want a VPN with multi-software compatibility.

Do your research carefully.

3. It allows multiple devices connection

It never hurts for your VPN to be able to hook up to more than one device.

Most travelers carry at least 2 devices on them – a phone, computer or tablet.

Ensuring coverage for all your devices also ensure smooth data transfers between them.

4. It works in as many countries as possible

Some countries have started blocking VPNs (China is notorious for this) so make sure the one you get is applicable in all the countries you have planned to visit.

This is especially important for travelers who country-hop on trips.

5. It has the No-Logs feature

This means that the VPN company does not collect or store any of your data.

Perhaps the most important feature that ensures identity and information safety.

6. It is fast

VPNs generally slow down internet speed as data is being channeled through other servers, so try and choose a VPN that adjusts and provides the best possible speed.

At the same time, you might be able to get cheaper VPNs for lower internet speeds so weigh on your preferences.

7. It has multiple endpoints

The higher number of endpoints the better!

Sites know to block particular endpoints, so give yourself a few fallbacks in case one doesn’t work.

If a server in Georgia (United States) is blocked, for instance, you can use one in Europe or Asia instead.

8. It doesn’t have a data limitation

Many VPN companies have a cap on the amount of data you traffic.

Aim to get one that won’t limit your internet usage, or calculate how much you’re likely to need and apply for a VPN with reasonable rates.

9. It should be reliable

As an extra tip, try and avoid free VPNs.

You may be tempted to go for VPNs that offer long, free trials but those are likely to have malware hidden inside them or simply contain tracking libraries, letting a third party access your data.

Get a paid plan that is much more secure and reliable.

V- What Is The Best VPN For Travel?

1. ProtonVPN All The Way!

ProtonVPN

Created by CERN, the Switzerland based Proton VPN is committed to the security and privacy of its users.

For this reason, the creators chose Switzerland as their base since it has strong privacy laws and is outside the jurisdiction of Europe and the United States.

Operating on over 479 servers and with endpoints available in 37 countries (including China), ProtonVPN’s private ownership and multi-system coverage make it as a top-tier contender; maybe the best VPN for travel and the best VPN for travel to China.

While ProtonVPN offers a (slow) free version that offers three endpoints and a secure channel, we highly recommend you sign up for the fast full-package, $8/month bestseller. With this you get:

  • Access to all endpoints
  • High-speed connection
  • Unlimited data bandwidth
  • Can be used on five devices simultaneously via the P2P feature
  • Access to Plus servers, Tor servers and secure connection
  • No-log service (default setting for all their packages)

Excellent support services and a focus on encryption make ProtonVPN a top-tier and reasonably priced choice.

In particular, they are known for their unique Secure Core feature. By first routing your connection through servers owned and controlled by ProtonVPN before bouncing it off another VPN server, the multiple endpoint passage weaves a secure net over your computer address and data traffic. Detailed security maintained on the Secure Core servers further ensures your privacy and data safety.

While ProtonVPN does not embellish their services with Ad-block features, static IP addresses and so forth bonuses, they do offer an accessory called the ProtonMail.

This is an encrypted email service with the unique feature of self-destructing emails and other privacy settings. Designed like the VPN itself, it guarantees an immense security.

Considering the layered protection, range of endpoints, secured servers in highly private countries and smooth user interface, ProtonVPN offers a great deal and at a more than reasonable price.

Since it is compatible across multiple software, you need not worry about device match either. Unlimited bandwidth and the allowance of up to five device connections mean you get stable connection on all devices, and at a relatively high speed.

If you are looking for a well-rounded product, we consider ProtonVPN to be the best VPN for travel.

Get ProtonVPN Here

2. NordVPN, The Alternative

NordVPN

As an alternative, we recommend the VPN service provider of NordVPN which is one of the best VPN for travel.

Founded in Panama by four entrepreneurs, it is one of the most highly encrypted VPN services currently available.

Like ProtonVPN, NordVPN’s vast range covers almost 45 countries, its high-speed connection altogether secure.

Where ProtonVPN chooses to focus on VPN services, NordVPN branches out to offer other internet conveniences. A highly appreciated feature is their Ad blocking service; you can look for more of their exclusive features on their website.

If you choose to sign with NordVPN, go for the one year plan! Highly reasonable, NordVPN prices their yearly plan slightly lower than ProtonVPN at $6.99 per month. This includes access to all its servers and simultaneous use up to five devices.

There is also a much cheaper 3-years plan for those who budget tightly. While it offers pretty much the same features, it is priced at only $2.99 per month.

Get NordVPN Here

VI- Setting Up Your VPN

The best time to get a VPN is now!

Since you use the internet on a daily basis, there is no need to procrastinate until your next trip.

In fact, we recommend you to set one up as soon as possible and familiarize yourself with the interface. Use it as often as possible now to avoid mishaps when traveling.

Another reason to sign up now rather than wait for your trip is because you might not be able to register once you are overseas.

You also don’t want to run the risk of having your payment information stolen on public Wi-Fi.

To set up on your computer, simply download the VPN software and run it – it will automatically install.

For mobile set ups, follow the quick steps below.

1. How to setup ProtonVPN on your mobile

ProtonVPN on mobile
ProtonVPN on mobile – Photo via AndroidCentral
  • Download the ProtonVPN app from your respective safe play store (Google Play for Android and Apple play store for iOS users.)
  • Download the configuration files, as the app will suggest
  • Once you download the extensions, log into the ProtonVPN dashboard.
  • Click on the downloads option on the left corner of the navigation bar.
  • Locate the open configuration files section and choose : PLATFORM: Android/iOS (whatever OS you use) and PROTON: UDD or TCP (if you are experiencing lower speeds)
  • Once you have filled in the above check boxes, a new screen will open and ask you to log in your credentials once again.
  • After successfully logging in, hit the connect button and watch the server connect on your above status bar.

3. How to setup NordVPN on your mobile

NordVPN on mobile

  • Download the NordVPN from the respective secure play stores (Google play for Android and Apple Play Store for iOS)
  • Fill in your details, and click on the activate cybersec feature.
  • Once activated, click on the quick connect which will instantly link your device to the fastest server from the list.
  • You can manually choose a country from the interface, and the server as well. Once connected you will see a green notification saying that you have successfully connected.

VII- Conclusion

Consider the VPN as a digital bodyguard for all the travelers.

They have become an indispensable part of any traveler’s digital toolkit, and for good reason.

While the less computer literate might struggle with the interface at first, most VPNs are relatively user-friendly.

Any hassle of downloads are worth the cost, as VPNs guarantee security of personal information and your day-to-day data.

It also has the dual function of keeping you relatively off-the-grid while maintaining a barrier between you and malicious people online.

In the case of pricing, long-term deals are always more worthwhile as they come with a full range of services and special features.

Relatively cheap and easy to use, get ProtonVPN or NordVPN, and make VPNs your new travel friend! 😉

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