What is a VPN and Why Should You Use One When You Travel?

Almost all of us went on a longer trip and mid holiday the weather just went crazy and rained the whole day. Those are the days when you don’t really fancy getting out to walk so it’s a good idea to stay in the accommodation and catch up with your series, movies or even do a bit of work. You are ready to hit the website of choice and all of a sudden… it’s not available in your region!

Crickey! What should you do now? First of all, don’t panic since VPNs come to the rescue.

What the actual heck is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network.

via Wikipedia

And why should you use a VPN when you travel?

Back to that issue we were talking about. That’s a content regional lock, as some production companies limit their content only for some regions because of the fees and copyright issues.

This is one of the main reasons people use a VPN as it offers the option to browse the net or use apps as you were in another country. Not all VPNs are allowing all type of service (like HBO, Netflix or Amazon) but most paid ones allow and have specific settings for those services.

The second usage for VPN is to secure your passwords and sensitive data from the watching eyes. Sometimes you need to use private networks at the airport, train station, or even the hotel (lobby or room wi-fi connection) and you don’t want to risk someone getting your login details or you may just want to block your location or other info. Many of the VPN services offers firewall protection, social media protection (like identity, statistic information blocking) or just spam filters. Or maybe you remember that you need to pay your car insurance and you have to use your online banking. The VPN can help you there too because there are secure services which are not allowing logins if your location and IP changes or you just don’t want to risk any theft of personal information.

Another use of which I personally benefited of is to get relevant search results for a specific area. Google, as well as other search engines, show the content of searches dependent on your location. So if you search for the same keywords in the UK you won’t get the same results as in Germany. Let’s assume you searched for something before you left the UK and forgot to save it, but now that you are in Germany, it would be harder to find the same results unless you use a VPN.

You convinced me but what should I use?

Glad to answer this question, too. There are plenty of free solutions for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and IOS, as well as tons of add-ons for your browser. You should always search for the right one. There are unlimited traffic free VPNs but they don’t work for Google products (so no youtube in China, sorry), or there are free VPNs letting you use Google services but they limit you to 500 or 1 GB traffic unless you upgrade to a subscription.

If you are looking for specific recommendations, here is what the team at LooknWalk has used and is using when we travel (or even at home):

Windscribe : the free plan supports only one device, 8 locations, and 10 GB of data a month but you can also pay only for the months you are traveling and you unlock unlimited data, unlimited devices and 45 locations. It has both apps and browser add-on. Google, HBO Go, and Netflix work on it.

Unlimited Free VPN – Hola : they have a super useful Chrome and Opera add-on which has saved us in several cases. HBO and Netflix work on Hola but Google isn’t supported.

TunnelBear : the free plan gives you 500GB traffic usage per month. They have apps for everything you can think of plus browser add-ons. Oh and Google works on this one, too.

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