When it comes to travel safety and security, most people are largely concerned about keeping personal items safe. We all worry about our phones, cameras and wallets, and usually take precautions to ensure they don’t get stolen whilst travelling. But what about electronic security? How safe is your personal information and your bank accounts whilst travelling? Arguably if these are compromised whilst travelling, the consequences could be far worst. Here’s how to avoid an electronic security nightmare whilst travelling and get the best VPN for travel.
Electronic Travel Security: Hackers
Before we left for our travels we had heard of a few instances of people’s details being stolen and bank accounts hacked, because they were logged on to insecure WiFi networks.
We knew that we would be relying a lot on airport, hostel, bar and restaurant public WiFi networks. When I say a lot, I mean most of the time. We do get local sims in some countries we visit, but it is still possible, albeit a lot harder, to hack 4G than public WiFi networks.
VPN For Travel
After doing our research we decided that signing up to a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) would be the best idea to digitally protect ourselves whilst travelling.
What Is A VPN?
When you connect to a public WiFi network, you go onto the VPN app and switch on the VPN (or you can set it to do it automatically). In simplistic terms, this then creates a digital tunnel from your location to a remote server operated by the VPN company in a different location. From that remote server you can access the internet and do whatever it is you want to do as if you were in that remote location.
The VPN connection to the internet is secure. It uses the public WiFi to pass on all your internet activity, through the tunnel, to the secure network operated by the VPN provider. You do what you want on the Internet and the VPN server sends back all the information like the websites you are trying to load, back through the tunnel to your device.
Encryption at both ends of the tunnel helps to prevent a hacker on the public WiFi seeing what you are doing. This is particularly helpful if you are typing in your personal bank details or accessing internet banking from your device. They might be able to see you are accessing a VPN, but if the provider is good enough they shouldn’t be able to see anymore than that.
Servers Across The World
The best VPN for travel companies have servers located in most countries around the world and often multiple servers in the same country. The more servers, the faster the connection speed.
VPNs Sometimes Get Bad Press
VPNs sometimes get bad press because they can be used to protect your anonymity on the internet. This protection, often supported by the ability to pay with cryptocurrency has led to people using it for illegal purposes. Such as purchasing things they shouldn’t, illegally downloading movies and music via torrenting sites, committing hacking crimes and even digital terrorism.
However, most people just use VPNs to keep themselves safe and secure online. It’s like saying all knives are bad because some people stab other people with them, whereas most people just use them to chop up fruit and veg.
Operating From Different Locations
As well as protecting you from being hacked on public WiFi networks and protecting your anonymity, a VPN also makes it look like you are accessing the internet from whatever location the server is based in. It changes your ISP address.
So if you are in Thailand and set the VPN server to a UK server then it looks like you are still in the UK. This allows you to access geo-restricted sites you may not be able to access in Thailand. For example you can stream and download UK-based Netflix content.
One random perk to getting a VPN for travel, is that when you can get around geo-restricted sites you can sometimes access cheaper flights. For example, if you want to book an internal flight in Argentina before you arrive, some flight companies can charge you more when you book online, if you are accessing their site from outside Argentina.
If you set your VPN server to Argentina and select the local currency (Argentinian pesos), often the flights can work out cheaper! This is especially true when paying for checked luggage. My top travel tip when it comes to paying for checked luggage is to select a US server and pay in USD. It is actually the cheapest way to pay for checked luggage on LATAM flights randomly!
Best VPN For Travel
So which VPN should you get to keep you secure whilst travelling? After doing lots of research on which one works best and offers best value for money, ExpressVPN came out on top due to ease of use, functionality, server coverage and reviews.
- ExpressVPN is blooming easy to set-up and use. It has an app or you can add it to your browser by downloading an extension.
- You can set it to launch automatically on start-up. You can also set it to block you using the internet until you switch the VPN on. This means if the WiFi cuts out and comes back, you can’t start browsing without the correct protection.
- There are 160 servers in 94 countries.
- Connection speeds are pretty damn fast.
- Customer service is pretty awesome and quick to respond. If you experience an issue, they’ll go through every possible setting with you until it is fixed.
- We haven’t had many issues streaming videos. The only problems we have had have been due to dodgy WiFi.
- On our chosen price plan we can login with unlimited devices, using a max of 5 devices at a time.
- Express VPN comes out consistently as top, or at least second in almost all comparison reviews. It gets a crazy high score of 5 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot.
- If you are a VPN expert there are loads of different settings you can play around with to suit your needs in different scenarios. If you are a novice, the default settings are all you will need.
- You can get a pre-loaded router for your home.
- Express VPN can be set up on your smart TV and games consoles.
- On the best value price-plan you get a 49% discount for signing up for a year. Costing $99.95 in total and you get an extra 3 months for free.
- Express VPN have a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee.
We’ve now been using our Express VPN for over 11 months, and it’s working amazingly well. I really recommend it. Find out more and sign up for Express VPN.
Cheap VPN For Travel Options
Not everyone can afford a VPN, although I would argue they are really worth the money. There are a few free or freemium options out there. However, when we looked into these VPN options, they didn’t always have servers in the countries we were planning to visit and the speeds weren’t great. Customer service wasn’t always that good and they weren’t necessarily as secure as they made out to be.
If you are planning a short trip and don’t want to fork out money for a paid for VPN, then you may want to look at the free version of TunnelBear.
Awesome Products To Keep You Safe And Secure
Travelling is exciting, but also scary. You can’t always avoid travel nightmares, but we have compiled a list of the best products, accessories and gadgets you can get to keep you as secure and safe as possible whilst travelling. This includes belts, bags, wallets and more. We’ve been travelling for years and have found these travel safety products really helpful.
More Travel Safety & Security: Essential Steps To Take Before You Leave
Booked to go travelling? Avoid unnecessary travel crises. Here’s a helpful list of things you need to think about (and sort out) in regards to travel safety before shoot off. This includes getting travel insurances (and what things you should watch out for when it comes to travel insurance!), sorting out your vaccinations and checking out the countries you want to visit on the Foreign Office website.
Found Our Travel Safety Products Blog Useful?
I hope you now have more of an idea of why electronic security is so important when you travel. We are only small, so do share this blog if you found it helpful