Why You Need a VPN While Travelling
The Internet has truly changed everything. It allows us to communicate easily across vast distances and access information with the click of a button. Unfortunately, it has also made it easier for criminals to access our personal data. For instance, if you're using an airport's Wi-Fi, your credit card information could be accessed by anyone else who is on that airport's network. Luckily, there is a way to secure your information in a public setting, and that's by using what's called a virtual private network, or VPN. You should always use a VPN when travelling, and while get more into the reasons why below.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a way of making you anonymous and untraceable on the Internet. Whereas the Internet as a whole could be referred to as a public network, a private network such as a VPN can only be accessed by certain individuals - think of it as a fort within the Internet that only those who have the password can enter. All data - such as important personal details - is encrypted, meaning the date is scrambled so it is unreadable to people who desire to access it.
Why Do I Need One?
Protecting your personal information is one of the most important reasons you should be using a VPN when travelling outside of your home. This applies equally to travelling to another continent or simply setting up your laptop at a local coffee shop. You're not going to want to access your bank account in a public place without a VPN, for instance. People intent on stealing information can lurk on public W-Fi hotspots, preying on those who don't know the importance of using a VPN. Data protection isn't just necessary when it comes to hackers; even the Wi-Fi network provider could be taking note of what you're browsing and then sell it to advertisers!
The next reason you should be using a VPN when travelling is that the laws regarding the Internet will be at least a little different in each country you visit. Some countries have data retention laws, meaning they're permitted to keep information on what exactly you've been doing on the Internet. Additionally, some countries have ignored the idea of the Internet being a free and open place and decided to censor, by law, what their citizens can and cannot access. A prominent example is China, known for its "Great Firewall." A common why for travelers to solve this problem is to use a VPN to bypass Internet blocking in China.
This has another practical use: you are able to access material that may only be available in specific countries. For instance, Netflix's selection is different in each country, so if you're in Italy you will have a different library of movies and TV shows than what you would have in America. This is known as "geo-blocking." If you travel to Italy and don't like Netflix's regional selection there, you can simply use a VPN so that it appears to Netflix you're still in the US. Alternatively, if there's some show on Italian Netflix that you liked and want to watch back home, you can use a VPN in the States to make it appear you're in Italy!
Another reason you should use a VPN when travelling is that public networks are going to be very crowded, especially in bustling areas such as airports or shopping centers, which means connectivity will be slow. Using a VPN means your access to the Internet will be much less congested and therefore quicker. It will also protect you from the controversial practice of "bandwidth throttling," where Internet Service Providers can intentionally slow down your Internet speed.
We hope that you now see it is a matter of common sense to use a VPN while travelling. Not only does it protect you from the many people who would be interested in stealing your data, but it also allows you to bypass things such as censorship and data retention you may not be used to in your home country. Therefore, be sure to check out some VPN reviews and add downloading a VPN for your computer to your to-do list before you set out, and happy travels!