Being connected to the Internet is a necessary part of life nowadays. Even if you were resistant to using the Internet regularly, you’ll find that the more we advance with technology, the more essential it is for us to stay connected. Whether it’s traveling overseas by plane, train or automobile, or just checking in online at the local mall, we need easy, safe, instant access to the internet 24-7. Enter the VPN (Virtual Private Network).
VPNs are basically apps that trick the internet into believing that you’re logging on from another country. Since you can’t be traced online, your data is secure, you have privacy, and you bypass any firewalls that may have been set up that might slow your internet down or impose restrictions on certain sites in certain countries. Having a VPN for travel is just as important as having access to the Internet. In fact, they go hand in hand. Let’s have a closer look at why a VPN is a ‘need to pack’ item you shouldn’t leave home without.
A VPN Offers Privacy
Nobody likes nosey busybodies poking into their business, whether they’re doing something totally innocent or otherwise. When you go online, there are eyes everywhere, especially when you travel. Your ISP logs your every online move. Search engines track your internet activities for their target marketing. Even your supposedly secure messages through your chosen email service provider are rarely truly encrypted, so there is a possibility that they may end up becoming free viewing for all. VPNs give you an extra layer of privacy to shield you from prying eyes.
VPNs Keep Your Personal Information Secure
No doubt you’ve thought about ways to keep your personal information safe while using the Internet. But the sad truth is, security is getting easier and easier for hackers to breach, even on password-protected networks like the ones you may have for your home or office.
And of course, if your password-protected networks are becoming easier to hack, how much more are unsecured public Wi-Fi networks like those at hotels, airports or cafes, let alone shared computers that we might be obligated to use while on the go. Your precious personal information is up for grabs the minute you get online. To put this into perspective, I’m talking about your login information for various sites, including banking institutions. Basically, anything that someone could use to steal your identity. Scary, isn’t it?
Using a VPN for travel will ensure that your information is secure as you browse, watch streaming videos, use your email, and even make voice and video calls. Dave Dean, travel technology writer, likens the internet to a river of sensitive information flowing at a furious rate. Your unencrypted data is like dye splashed in – it quickly spreads throughout the river and is totally visible to anybody and everybody.
They can see everything from what color it is to where it is flowing. If you want to hide that information, attach a small pipe starting from where you want to drop the dye to where you want it to go. The quality of the dye is shielded from sight, and protected from contamination to boot. The VPN is your pipe that allows you to be safe in the knowledge of guaranteed encryption and uncompromised privacy.
VPNs Can Break Down Firewalls
The best VPN services also serve to bypass firewalls and blocks that don’t allow you access to certain websites and information that you might need while traveling. Certain countries like Spain, Thailand, Portugal and China impose heavy censorship and block access to sites that are deemed unsuitable by their governments. This is especially the case in China, so much so that there are even jokes about the Great Firewall of China. Many travelers have reported not having access to their banking information online because of China’s strict censorship.
As in the river analogy, VPNs simply reroute the data that you need from another country into the country you’re in, bypassing the ‘dams’ that block the flow. Using a VPN for travel will ensure easy access to your favorite websites and apps.
VPNs Have Invisible Digital Footprints
For certain people, anonymous research is important for their livelihood and, indeed, even their safety. Whistleblowers, political dissidents, activists or journalists need total anonymity in order to do what they feel they need to do to expose certain truths. Even the opinionated average Joe off the street might find themselves in trouble for that very opinion if they happen to be in a country where speech isn’t as free as what they’re used to. VPNs hide your online activity from the ‘wrong’ eyes.
A VPN Will Keep You From Being Targeted
Seasoned travelers will tell you that location matters. Companies are tracking your online activity, and they use that information to tweak things to their advantage. Say, for example, you’ve been browsing information about Bali. When you finally get onto an airline website, they will have tweaked their ticket prices to Bali a little higher because they know you are looking to go there. Shielding your internet browsing history allows you to see the real prices.
The same goes for where you are in the world. If companies see you’re logging in from Africa, they will lower their prices for you, whereas if you’re logging in from Japan, the prices will be hiked.
Now that you’re up to speed on the importance of having a VPN for travel, here’s one more tip for you. Have your VPN in place before you travel since many VPN websites are now also blocked in various countries. As with everything in the tech world, things advance at a rapid rate, so keep on top of increasing VPN blockages by constantly updating your VPN apps. Stay in touch with your VPN customer support teams to get the latest workarounds to keep you well connected. Here’s my curated list of the best VPN services for 2019. Happy travels!