VPN While Traveling Abroad: Is it Worth the Investment?

I needed a VPN when living abroad, although I had lived for many years without one.  But the more we could do everything online, I was limited without a VPN as I could not access some things from abroad.  I first started with a VPN to have more independence, complete daily tasks, and not depend on friends and family members from home to help me out.  Later I realized all the features that a VPN encompasses.

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I use Surfshark as it meets my needs, and I have not had any problems. I live between a few countries, and a VPN is a necessity.  There is a lot to know about VPNs, especially why you need one when traveling.

Understanding VPNs While Traveling Abroad

If you're planning on traveling abroad soon, you may be wondering how to keep your online activity secure and private while on the go. One solution is to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. A VPN can encrypt your internet connection and route your traffic through a secure server, making it much more difficult for anyone to intercept or monitor your online activity. 

A VPN easily changes your IP address, so your location becomes invisible.  For example, if you have to pay bills like electricity, gas, or your internet bill in some countries, you must have an IP address showing you are in that country to pay.  A VPN solves this problem, allowing you to pay bills or access accounts from anywhere worldwide.

Understanding VPNs

Definition and Functioning

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure and encrypted connection between two networks over the internet. It creates a private network from a public internet connection by masking your IP address and encrypting your data. This means that when you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server, making it difficult for anyone to intercept or spy on your data.

VPNs work by creating a secure connection between your device and the VPN server. When you connect to a VPN, your device creates an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server. All internet traffic is routed through this tunnel. The VPN server decrypts your internet traffic.

Benefits of Using VPNs

The number one feature is online security that travels with you. Travel the world with peace of mind! Surfshark lets you explore the online world and access websites safely as if you were at home. Whether using home or public Wi-Fi, with server locations all over the world, you can browse seamlessly, ad- and cookie-free.

Secondly, VPNs can help you bypass internet censorship and access blocked websites. This is particularly useful if you are traveling to countries with strict internet censorship laws. By using a VPN, you can access blocked websites and content, and browse the internet freely.

Thirdly, VPNs can help you save money on flights, hotels, and car rentals. Some airlines and travel websites offer different prices based on your location, so by using a VPN to change your IP address, you can access lower prices and save money.

Lastly, your search history should be kept between you, your computer, and no one else!  You can surf the web without being tracked and get local search results by changing the location of the search engine to any country in the world.

Common Types of VPNs

There are several common types of VPNs, and here are a few:

Remote Access VPNs: These are used by individuals to connect to a private network from a remote location, such as a home office or a hotel room.

For example, a remote worker can use the remote access VPN to work in their company’s network or system.  Or if you are traveling and use the remote access VPN for connecting to your company’s system.

Site-to-Site VPNs: These are used by businesses to connect multiple networks together over the internet.  This works when companies have office in different areas and a site-to-site VPN brings together two networks on different sites. Remote access VPN differs as it lets the individuals connect to a network while site-to-site VPN unites the two networks.

Mobile VPNs: These are used by mobile devices to connect to a VPN server and encrypt their internet traffic.  But more importantly, you use this if you have an unstable connection.  With the mobile VPN, the connection continues even if you are switching from your data or Wifi.

Personal VPNs: Just like the name, personal VPNs are used by the individual for personal use, such as access to streaming and privacy and security when browsing the internet.

Why Use VPN While Traveling

Using a VPN while traveling abroad has many benefits. Here are some reasons why you should consider using a VPN:

Secure Your Internet Connection: Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured and can be easily hacked. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it more secure and private.

Access Geo-Restricted Content: Some websites and streaming services are only available in certain countries. With a VPN, you can access geo-restricted content from anywhere in the world.  

A good example here is Netflix.  When you log into Netflix from a different country, with your IP address from there, you have a different selection of tv shows, movies, etc.

If you use a VPN, your IP address can be shown from the country where you purchased Netflix, and gives you the selection you are used to.

Avoid Government Surveillance: Some countries have strict internet censorship laws and monitor online activities. A VPN can help you bypass these restrictions and keep your online activities private.

Protect Your Personal Information: Using a VPN can help protect your personal information from hackers and identity thieves.

Choosing the Right VPN for Travel

When choosing a VPN for travel abroad, there are several features to consider:

Server Locations: Look for a VPN with servers in multiple countries to find a server anywhere easily.  Research a VPN with servers in the countries you plan to visit.

Encryption and Security: Make sure the VPN uses strong encryption and has a no-logs policy to protect your online privacy and security.

Speed and Performance: A VPN can slow down your internet connection. Look for a VPN with fast servers and good performance to ensure a smooth browsing experience.

User-Friendly Interface: Look for a VPN with a user-friendly interface, so you can easily connect to a server and start browsing securely.

Price and Features: Consider the price and features of the VPN. Look for a VPN with a free trial or money-back guarantee to test the service before committing.

Setting Up Your VPN

Setting up your VPN is important to ensure your online security and privacy while traveling abroad. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you set up your VPN and troubleshoot common issues.

Step-by-Step Guide

Choose a VPN provider that suits your needs. Look for a provider with a good reputation, strong encryption, and many servers in different countries. 

  • Download and install the VPN software on your device. Most VPN providers offer software for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Follow the instructions provided by the provider to complete the installation process.
  • Launch the VPN software and log in with your account credentials. If you don't have an account, you must sign up for one first.
  • Select a server location from the list of available options. Choose a server location that is close to your physical location to ensure faster connection speeds. If you need to access content that is restricted in your current location, choose a server location in a country where the content is available.
  • Connect to the VPN server by clicking the "Connect" button. Once connected, your internet traffic will be encrypted and routed through the VPN server.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you encounter any issues while setting up your VPN, here are some common troubleshooting steps you can try:

Check your internet connection. Make sure you have a stable internet connection before connecting to the VPN.

Restart your device. Sometimes, restarting your device can resolve connectivity issues.

Try a different server location. If you're experiencing slow connection speeds or connection drops, try connecting to a different server location.

Turn off your firewall or antivirus software. Sometimes, these programs can interfere with VPN connections.

Contact customer support. If you're still experiencing issues, contact your VPN provider's customer support for assistance.

Overall, I am really satisfied with Surfshark as it meets all my needs while living abroad.  Check out options that work best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is it necessary to use a VPN when traveling internationally?

A1: Using a VPN while traveling internationally is not necessary, but it is highly recommended. A VPN can help protect your online privacy and security while using public Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsecured and vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Additionally, a VPN can help you bypass geo-restrictions and access content that may be blocked in certain countries.

Q2: How do I choose the right VPN for traveling overseas?

A2: When choosing a VPN for traveling overseas, several factors must be considered. Look for a VPN with strong encryption, a no-logs policy, and a large server network in the countries you plan to visit. Also, make sure the VPN has a user-friendly interface and offers reliable customer support.

Q3: Can I use a free VPN while traveling abroad?

A3: While you can use a free VPN while traveling abroad, it is not recommended. Free VPNs often have limited server networks, slow connection speeds and may sell your data to third-party advertisers. Also, free VPNs may not offer the same security and privacy as paid VPNs.

Q4: Which VPN is best for international travel?

A4: The best VPN for international travel will depend on your specific needs and preferences. I use Surfshark. It offers strong encryption, a large server network, and reliable performance.

Q5: What are the benefits of using a VPN while traveling?

A5: Using a VPN while traveling can offer several benefits. It can help protect your online privacy and security, bypass geo-restrictions, and access content that may be blocked in certain countries. Additionally, a VPN can help you save money on flights and accommodations by allowing you to book from a different location.