VPN Travel Guide – Stay Secure on Your Journey Abroad!
Exploring different sights, cultures, foods, and beliefs is probably one of the biggest joys of traveling. Nothing is more therapeutic than giving that brain a little rest from everyday exhaustion to breathe in the beauty of the world while sharing those moments with your loved ones. Now, avid-travelers have for long used technology for traveling i.e. packing their smartphones, laptops, and tablets, along with other handy gadgets like Video Recording Sunglasses, Foot Warmers, Travel Drones and more.
However, while it is awesome to stay connected when traveling abroad for posting photos and status updates on your social media, it is imperative to know that your digital privacy and security are at risk by connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. And, if you do not want your visits to different hostels/hotels, train stations, cafes, and airports to turn into something traumatic, you need to use the Best VPN! Subscribing to a VPN for traveling is no different than locking your valuables when visiting an unknown destination.
These online privacy tools protect you from the digital dangers of your endeavors while making life easier in countries where social media platforms and other handy websites are inaccessible, due to tough internet laws. For instance, expats in China and UAE, often have to suffer a lot as they are unable to access Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Google Services! This leaves them pretty much handicapped, as they do not know a life without such names.
How Does a VPN Protect Your Data?
Now, this is where things get interesting, especially if you do not know what a VPN does. To understand how they work, consider the internet as a connection between two points. One from the power wall outlet at your home and the other your local ISP provider. The problem with this is that the connection is not really protected and your entire data is at risk of being hacked or corrupted by viruses. VPNs are typically the median between the two points of connection, not visible to the naked eye.
This obscures your network connection! In simple words, it encrypts the connection from point one to two, by making it pass through different nodes worldwide. This makes your data available to you and invisible to everyone else. As a result, nobody can know where you are located, who you are, and what is your IP address. This ensures all internet activity from users is safe from prying eyes hackers, governmental agencies, and third-party service providers.
In turn, this allows you to bypass content limitations and geo-restrictions wherever you are located in the world while protecting your identity to ensure to stay away from legal concerns – especially in countries with strict internet laws like China. The “Great Firewall” prevents any user from accessing well-known apps and websites, and restricts the internet to an enclosed local space.
What Can a VPN Unblock while Travelling?
When you start traveling to different countries around the world, you will soon start realizing that the internet is very different, based on where you are. While using a VPN does indeed boost your digital privacy and security, protecting your data when connected to public Wi-Fi’s, it also offers unmatched capabilities for unblocking all sorts of useful sites/apps. These include:
- Sites like BBC iPlayer, HBO Go, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, all of which impose geo-restrictions that prevent users from outside the US from accessing the VoD services and their content. This is due to copyright laws in the country, which demands to receive a permit for every movie/TV show released online, before being available to people in different countries.
- Chat applications like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and various others, which are not easy to use in places like Egypt, Iran, and Morocco. Even Google Services, as mentioned above, may be banned in highly restrictive regimes like China. Many Belizean and Mexican ISPs also block VoIP services and until recently, WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil too.
- VPNs even help in circumstances where some services become very inaccessible due to localization issues. For instance, if you live in the US and have always made all your payments using local credit cards, you may realize that your Skype may give trouble in other countries. You will face issues in adding credit to your Skype account, as it defaults to the local version of the country, hence only accepting location-specific credit cards.
- Some sites and apps that you use on your mobile phone may also start giving the same issue of locality, constantly requiring you to switch things back to your proper hometown and language. For instance, if you ever visit Thailand, Google maps will often activate the Thai script. This turns everything into Thai, making life a hell for you. However, by using a VPN, you can keep things consistent and will only need to change settings unless you demand it.
Keep Your Online Identity and Personal Data Safe when Travelling
Most people are not aware that using public Wi-Fi’s are very insecure and put your personal data at great risk. Since you are using a variety of different Wi-Fi access points every day when traveling, this further hinders your online security. Consider it this way that just like you may get targeted by pickpockets and thieves abroad, using public Wi-Fi’s open your information to cybercriminals.
These banes of your personal information can use public Wi-Fi signals for capturing your credit card numbers, social media passwords, and other data, especially if you access these services when using an unrecognized network. And since travelers need to use the internet for online banking, only a VPN can ensure your protection against cybercrime and identity theft, as they boost your online anonymity.
By connecting to a server in a different country, preferably more local to your residing destination, VPNs mask your IP address and shift your location. This makes it impossible for any hacker or cybercriminal from figuring out your online activity and subsequently use your information against you, which may even include usernames/passwords and activity from your mobile apps and browsers.
Hacking Is Real and How Your Data Can Be Compromised
As mentioned earlier, public Wi-Fi’s that are found in public places like hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, coffee shops, and airports are all unprotected and unencrypted. Since they are free and so widespread, many may not think twice before frequently establishing connections with them. And if we think about it, simply connecting to a network does sound pretty harmless. What is the most that can happen if you browse some news article or check your social media accounts?
Well, there are tremendous amounts of risks that go along with these networks, with the most real being HACKING! Yes, you heard that right. This is why travelers should know the importance of VPNs, and how they can protect you from various attacks that could lead to your data being compromised. Now, we have already elaborated on the ways VPNs operate for protecting your personal data and digital identity online, so here is a rundown on the types of risks of unprotected networks:
One of the many hacking techniques used by cybercriminals for stealing personal data and user information is to trick victims into connecting to “rogue access points”. These malicious hotspots act as a legitimate network by carefully choosing reputable names. For instance, if you are staying at a hotel called GoodMorning Inn and want to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, you may think you are selecting the right one by clicking on the network “GoodMorning Inn”. However, you have just connected to a rogue hotspot, which though may provide access to the internet, but also can now view your sensitive data.
Snooping and Sniffing
As the name implies, this form of hacking by cybercriminals usually involves using special software kits and even devices that assist with eavesdropping on different Wi-Fi signals. As a result, it allows the attacker to access everything you are doing online. All it requires is a simple connection and you can grant them the ability to see entire websites you have visited, along with the information that you might have filled out. This puts your banking information and other accounts at risk of being hijacked! Using a VPN prevents will shift your IP address, which technically makes you invisible.
Another way that most hackers use for attacking innocent users and their personal data, particularly banking information is to take advantage of software vulnerabilities and lack of knowledge on online security. Cybercriminals may slip malware onto your computer without you even knowing, by simply forcing a prompt to appear to update a software program. Recently many fell victim to fake Adobe Flash updates that injected malware onto user devices.
As one of the most common threats and attacks on public Wi-Fi networks, you may have heard of Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks, which is another form of eavesdropping like the snooping and sniffing method. It typically works by intercepting a connection from your device to the Wi-Fi and gaining access to the incoming/outgoing transmissions, which allows them to see all that you are doing online. So what you think was really private is now in the hands of cybercriminals.
— UNILAD (@UNILAD) May 5, 2017
Tips for Staying Safe on Public Wi-Fi
By now, you are probably well aware that using a VPN is crucial for protecting your identity and personal information, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. However, there is more to leveraging security than just using a VPN. You need to use other methods for receiving the best security online, whether you are surfing the web on your tablet, smartphone, MAC, or a desktop PC. Follow these DO’s and Don’ts below to protect your information:
- Use a Tor Browser
- Disable File Sharing on all devices
- Only connect to HTTPS sites or download HTTPS Everywhere
- When done using your account, make sure to log out!
- Log onto unprotected networks that do not require a password
- Access websites that require entering of sensitive information
- Leave your Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection open when not using them
- Log into any account via an app until confirming it uses HTTPS
- Allow your Wi-Fi to auto-connect to networks!
Leverage Cheaper Pricing on Bookings via VPNs
A huge benefit of using VPNs for traveling is that you can leverage cheaper pricing on hotel bookings and airplane tickets. By connecting to servers in different countries/cities, you can gain access to special discounts and pricing, which you may otherwise not be able to leverage. Bear in mind the pricing of bookings and tickets with each user in different countries is varied.
For instance, let us say that you are traveling to Mississauga, Canada and are looking for good hotel accommodation. If you access a particular hotel website from your US location, you may have to be expensive rates, as you are not a local. If you connect to a server within the city, then you can gain access to the local pricing for the same booking, which can drastically reduce the costs.
This results in massive savings, especially if you are traveling on a budget. The same goes for airplane tickets booking. Though the process may appear complicated to some, it is actually quite simple. However, before we go into details as to how you can get cheaper pricing for tickets, it is imperative to know how flight comparison websites track your location. The sources include:
- Wi-Fi – If you use the internet by connecting to Wi-Fi, then upon accessing an airplane booking or flight comparison website, services might be able to detect your location using your Wi-Fi. Oftentimes, different websites may even ask you for permission to access your location to provide more specific results and ads.
- HTML5 Code – This markup language used for presenting and structuring content on the internet and all websites is another method websites use to detect your location. This location-tracking technique works best for tracking users of personal computers and hence gives relevant results after assessing the location you are residing in.
- IP Address – Even if you are not a tech-savvy person, everyone knows what an IP address is. This Internet Protocol is easily traceable by all websites and browsers. Subsequently, it is the easiest way for travel sites to detect your location and hence provide you with flight prices accordingly. You can use a VPN for hiding your IP address and leverage better pricing.
- Mobile Tracking – It is true that the online world leaves no stone unturned in recording user data, despite how much you try leveraging good privacy online. If you have activated the GPS feature on your mobile device, it can easily indicate your location and subsequently provide you different prices based on your location.
Tips on How to Use A VPN to Save Money on Flight Tickets
When it comes to receiving the best pricing for air tickets, most travel websites will consider your location via the above sources. However, they also assess the currency you will pay with and the point of sale. This is why it is common for customers, who are located in different countries, to receive different prices for the same travel date, destination, and airline.
Now, this can either work in your favor or result in emptying your pockets, especially considering that some websites even increasing their pricing, upon visiting a particular page several times. To protect you from these unjust practices, it is wise to use a VPN service and mask your IP address. For more information on how to save money on flight tickets, follow the below tips:
Browse from a Low Income Country
One of the best ways to get the cheapest quotes on airline tickets is to use a VPN and connect to a server in a low-income country. You will notice a huge price difference. For instance, if you browse Kayak.com from the USA, you will see higher pricing, as compared to visiting the website with an IP address from India. Despite the timings and the airlines being the same, you will notice a considerable difference in pricing, saving you many dollars and boosting your motivation for budget traveling!
Use International Airline Websites
Another way to receive the best pricing for your airline ticket is to change your IP address to that where the airline is based. This means you need to connect to the international airline website. For instance, if you reside in the USA and want to use the Brussels Airline. Upon searching on Google, you will probably go to the local version of the airline. Changing your IP address to that of the official Brussels website will show you a different pricing, saving you almost a $50 to $70 minimum.
Clear Your Browsing History
Search Prices by Date Using Google Flights
One of the best things about Google Flights is that it offers plenty of benefits for the budget-friendly traveler. Among the many include the ability to select pricing based on varied dates. For instance, if you already have a destination that you want to travel to, all you have to do is choose specific dates to and from your destination. Google Flights will then use its algorithm for assessing various deals on different flights to find the best listing in each day. It is the best tool for those who have flexible travel dates!
Wrapping Things Up
The last thing anybody needs during vacationing or traveling abroad for business is getting all their accounts and IDs hacked by simply being a little careless about your online privacy. The only way to truly enjoy any experience outside your home country is to cover all aspects of your digital security, and a VPN is crucial to meeting those needs.
We hope this guide helps you understand the importance of a Virtual Private Network for leveraging anonymity on public Wi-Fi’s while leveraging cheaper booking rates! Do share if our tips help you out in any way, and of course do not hesitate in sharing the article with your travel buddies, who are unaware of the increasing online vulnerabilities!