“How do I watch my favourite TV shows from home while abroad?
How can I not worry about checking my bank account online when on holiday?
And when I’m in China, how can I check my Facebook?”
All valid questions my friend. And all ones that can be answered by the VPN.
– Post in collaboration with surfshack.com
I’ve asked friends about VPNs before, and never quite understood what they were or how they could be used, but as part of my internet education, I’ve been to VPN school today.
And now I’m convinced we all need access to one, our internet security depends on it.
VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’
By using a VPN you’re creating your own network. When you’re travelling, especially travelling and working, this will help keep you protected against a multitude of potential online threats, you can be more anonymous online and you can also surf the internet as you would in places like the UK and Australia.
Therefore, without the online restrictions some countries place on their citizens. If you’re travelling long term, a VPN can be especially useful.
You might have used a VPN before and you don’t even know it. If you have ever connected to a school internet, or one with work, chances are, you have.
Why use a VPN while travelling?
1. To avoid hackers
One of the main reasons to travel with VPN is to help keep your site, information and details secure from hackers. By utilising the encryption and security that a VPN offers, you are helping keep your computer and internet activity more secure.
Some networks, like public Wi-Fi in cafés, are super vulnerable. This is where hackers can get to work and steal your information without you even knowing.
When you use a VPN your data is sent through an encrypted tunnel, which means your information and details are more secure, making it more difficult for anyone else outside of the network to read information transferred by you.
2. To bypass government and other geo restrictions
Of course I’m not condoning this – never broken a law in my life, me. Probably. But sometimes when you’re travelling a lot, especially within different countries, you’ll need a way to access information that governments will censor.
For example, Facebook is banned in China and intermittently in other countries. You may also have trouble watching your favourite TV shows from home when you find yourself outside the UK.
Y’know, innocent little bypasses like these.
A private VPN can help bypass censorship a country might have, so you can explore the internet freely and, perhaps even more importantly, safely.
Make sure to take a look at the local laws, though – some countries threaten to punish users of a VPN (or certain uses of a VPN).
3. To remain anonymous online
Using a VPN as you surf the net means that your online activity and identity is better protected. Your traffic and data is encrypted to make it much harder for anyone trying to look in or watch what you do.
This is really good for public Wi-Fi hotspots because you can never guarantee their security. You can’t trust them. Especially if, like me, you need to access sensitive information like bank details, on public networks in cafés.
I’ve always been nervous accessing my bank account online as I’ve travelled the world, but, as I’ve now learnt, I don’t actually have to be so scared – as long as I am using a VPN.
Just a little internet security story
One of my friends once had her online payment system account hacked on a dodgy internet connection and the hacker bought two VIP tickets to Justin Bieber, seriously.
The online payment system won’t refund, her bank won’t help because it looks legit, she’s basically left with the bill, and she could only find out who did it by buying two VIP tickets herself and going to the gig.
Not gonna happen!
You have to be so careful online.
A VPN secures your connection so you know that any data you send and receive is encrypted and secured from others. If you’re worried about your internet security, then check out the VPN situation at Surf Shark, and see how they can help your internet life be as secure as possible.
More travel advice for you
How to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Holidays
How to Go Backpacking in Your 30s