Why A VPN is a Traveler’s Secret Weapon

This post is brought to you by Hotspot Shield. All opinions are my own.

No matter how you travel, certain equipment is just essential. Stuff like a good suitcase (or sturdy backpack), comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen. Since we live in the twenty-first century I would add a decent camera, my kindle and of course, my laptop.

And, If you are also carrying a laptop (and who isn’t these days), and especially if you are a digital nomad, you will probably want to add a VPN to that list. This downloadable computer program has a ton of uses that make life on the road way easier.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it is a small program that runs in the background on your computer and allows your computer to send and receive data from a remote destination, essentially shielding your actual location (that is a very basic explanation, but it’s all I’m capable of).

Here are a few ways that a VPN can enhance your travel experience:

Security

The world is full of sketchy internet connections, at hostels, cafes and airports. Skilled data thieves can hack these internet connections, take control of your computer and learn your important passwords and information. A VPN adds an extra layer of security by encrypting your data.

 Skirting Firewalls

A VPN can be super handy when you are traveling in countries with restrictive internet rules. In China and Vietnam for example, Facebook is entirely blocked for the average internet user. Trying to access it will bring you to a blank page. In Turkey, Twitter is now off limits. Even here in Mexico certain sites are inexplicably blocked.

With a VPN, you can cleverly skirt these firewalls. Because the VPN program disguises your connection, it is as if you were actually on a computer back in the United States.

Misdirection

Long-term travelers already know how annoying it is that Hulu doesn’t work outside of the United States. Netflix works in some countries but has a different selection than you would find at home. With a VPN you can again cloak your identity and use these, and other US-only websites.

You can also turn on your vpn when you visit paypal or your bank websites to keep them from locking you out for “unnatural activity.” I’ve even heard you can use your vpn to get better flight deals (link).

 Hotspot Shield: A Review

When Hotspot Shield commissioned me to write an article, I was more than happy to do it. For the past year I have been using Hotspot Shield as my VPN, after it was recommended to me by another blogger, Jeremy from Living the Dream.

I come from a decidedly un-techy background, so my main requirements for a VPN are that it works reliably, easily and well. What I like about Hotspot Shield is that it’s geared for personal use, not towards companies. It’s user-friendly and simple to turn on and off. It’s very easy to use and I like the fact that I can tweak the settings based on whether I want the service to connect automatically when I open my computer.

Their is a free version with ads and a premium version that is $4.99 a month or $29.95 a year. The premium version can be used on up to 5 devices, so Mike and I share the connection. I have the premium version.

How to get Hotspot Shield:

Do you have a VPN? What do you use it for?

This post is brought to you by Hotspot Shield. All opinions are my own.

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Steven Smith
Steven Smith

Thanks a lot for sharing such useful information. I agree with you that VPN is really important for most of the users. Different countries have different internet policy. A VPN can help you to access any websites regardless where you are staying. I always use “Hide-My-IP” VPN.

carryscott
carryscott

You shared an impressive information about vpn, before i look this post i don’t have knowledge about vpn, but now i’m very impressed and going to take vpn for my next traveling.

christy@sweetandsavoring
christy@sweetandsavoring

My husband and I use another company called VPN Secure, I think it is, but I’m so glad you wrote this review because now we might switch for a.better deal! I love being able.to ‘pretend’ that were in another country and watch shows on BBC online 🙂

Rebekah
Rebekah

I’ve been using astrill in China but its sort of fussy and kicks me off a lot. Also their help staff were sort of mean to me when I was IMing them questions. Granted my questions were dumb… but I might switch companies.

Shannon
Shannon

I live in China and I’ve been using Astrill. It worked great until last night and now I can’t access Hulu. I’ll give it another day and then contact customer service. It’s odd that you had a bad experience as they’ve always been very polite and helpful.

Joe
Joe

VPNs are stellar. I use one often. Not just for getting US Netflix, but also for varying my Netflix selection and seeing what other countries have. Sometimes use it for torrenting. and you can use it for sports viewing as well, to get around local blackouts in the US.

Emily
Emily

We got VPN about a week into our trip and I think it is one of the most essential items we have purchased. We feel less worried about our important information and love the access to US Netflix!

Richelle
Richelle

A VPN is definitely a must-have in China. I have a different VPN (Strong VPN). It’s a little more expensive but extremely reliable. Thanks for providing info on how a VPN can give you extra security when traveling. I hadn’t really thought about it because I use it 100% of the time in China anyway (unless I’m watching tv shows on Youku!). But I agree with Justin above, I didn’t need my VPN to access any sites in Vietnam except Hulu and Netflix.

Justin N
Justin N

While Facebook (and Twitter and every-damn-site-you-can-imagine) was blocked in China, my wife and I had no trouble getting to the unfiltered Internet in Vietnam last summer.

I still agree that VPN is a great idea for digital nomads and other long-distance travelers. I use WiTopia myself, or my university’s connection.

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