10 reasons to use VPN when travelling outside of the UK  

Are you planning on traveling abroad for business, family, or fun?

Going to another country can be a fantastic adventure. But it can also be a serious pain. And one of the first roadblocks that you’ll run into isn’t going to be a physical one. Accessing the internet is a critical part of most of our lives. From social media to work email, people need to access the digital world.

But, that’s not always possible abroad. Here’s why using a VPN can save you some serious headaches by unlocking your ability to go online securely — no matter where you are.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) is a service that encrypts all of your network data and tunnels it to a private server before sending it into the web. So, when you use a VPN, you aren’t connecting to the internet through your ISP (or public WiFi.) Instead, the VPN is encrypting your data and transferring it to a server located somewhere else. Then, that server sends your data to the web. So, websites, apps, and everything else sees the connection as coming from that private server — not your computer.

For example, let’s say that you travel to China. Instead of connecting to the internet through your hotel, you could connect to a VPN server and choose a server located in the UK. This would give you a fast UK IP address that you could use to connect to the internet instead of the IP address in your hotel.

Why is that useful? Here are 10 reasons that you absolutely NEED to use a VPN while traveling outside of the UK.

  1. Avoid Pesky Government Censorship

While traveling abroad can open you up to new experiences and cultures, it can also introduce you to some serious local government frictions. In countries like China, Turkey, Iran, Cuba, and Vietnam, the government is actively involved in censoring what you can (and can’t) see online. In fact, some government have massive networks of internet firewalls (e.g., the Great Firewall of China) that will prevent you from browsing even the most basic websites (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, etc.)

Luckily, VPNs can help you bypass these overwhelming government restrictions so that you can get back to doing what you do best — browsing the internet your way. Since VPNs encrypt your connection and tunnel it to another server, government firewall methods (like port blocking, DNS masking, RST packet flooding, etc.) can’t impact your online sessions.

After all, you don’t need foreign governments trying to enforce their agendas on you. You just want to watch a little YouTube. But… you still may not be able to.

  1. Bypass Annoying Region Blocks

If you think that government censorship is going to be your biggest hurdle when it comes to content, you may be wrong. Region blocks exist to prevent you from streaming the same content in every country. Since copyright law isn’t universal, different companies may own the rights to certain movies, television shows, music, and, yes, even YouTube videos. Because of this, major streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix base what you’re allowed to watch on where you’re currently located.

So, if your IP address is coming from India, you will only have access to the Indian version of Netflix. And that can be a big problem. Are you in the middle of that amazing new Dr. Who episode on Netflix? If so, you’ll want a VPN, because you can’t watch it in India. This problem persists throughout almost every single content provider on the planet. That can make traveling abroad a serious pain. After all, who wants to sit in their hotel room and watch season 7 of a TV show that they’ve never seen that’s filmed in a completely different language?

With a VPN, you can tunnel your connection to a server in another country. Then, when you access Netflix (or any other service provider) they’ll see that you’re coming from that other country — not where you’re currently located. For example, if you were using a VPN provider like Surfshark, you could connect to one of that VPN provider’s servers in Britain, and no matter where you were, Netflix would think you were in Britain.

  1. Access Public Wifi Without Sweating

When you’re traveling abroad, you’ll likely access public WiFi at some point. Since your cellular provider likely won’t give you stellar service in another country, the WiFi in your hotel may be your only source of internet access. Here’s the problem; It’s incredibly easy for threat actors to spy on your activity when you use a public WiFi source.

Not only can they quickly see your IP address, computer name, and other private information, but they can use man-in-the-middle attacks to steal any of the data you’re transmitting. That means that email passwords, usernames, credit card information, and more can be vulnerable the minute you access public WiFi without protection.

With a VPN, all of your data is pre-encrypted. So, you can rest easy knowing that malicious threat actors can’t poke their prying eyes into your private data.

  1. Location-based Pricing

As crazy as it sounds, some companies actually charge you a different rate depending upon where you’re located. This is especially prevalent in the travel industry. Hotels and airlines will price packages, tickets, and rooms based upon where your computer is currently located. And, for some travelers, this can be an issue.

Why should you have to pay $30 more for the same ticket as someone else? Well, with a VPN, you don’t. Since you can pick-and-choose which country your computer’s traffic is coming from by connecting to a physical server in that country, you have the flexibility to change your location at any time.

  1. Search Without a Trace

This (like most of the benefits on this list) is something that’s certainly useful at-home and abroad. When you browse the internet, you leave behind little digital blueprints. Sure! Some of these blueprints are harmless. But, sometimes, you may leave some information that you don’t want anyone else to see. Unfortunately, without a VPN, it’s easy to leverage this digital footprint to pry into your personal life.

You may be thinking, ‘what can threat actors possibly learn simply by me searching Google.’ The answer is, well, a lot. For starters, they can get a pretty good estimate of where you’re located. Really, anyone can get a general idea of your location without a VPN (to see this in action, click here.) But, by following all of the data and network connection information you leave behind, serious malicious actors can get a really good idea of where you are (as in, exactly.)

VPNs act as an automatic footprint eraser. Since all of your data is encrypted (typically using military-level encryption techniques), you can safely browse without anyone having any idea who or where you are.

  1. Bypass Firewalls

Government censorship isn’t the only type of digital barrier that you may run into abroad. Local firewalls can put a damper on your digital behavior. For example, the hotel that you’re in may restrict you from visiting certain websites or playing certain games.

These firewalls come in a variety of shapes and sizes and may use different security protocols (e.g., RST packet flooding, SYN-ACK packet spoofing, etc.) This makes bypassing those firewalls a pain, right? Well, not with a VPN. The core function of VPNs involves encrypting and transferring data before that connection data hits the open internet. So, no matter what type of firewall protocol they’re using, your VPN has you covered.

  1. Make Secure VOIP Calls

Making phone calls abroad is complicated. Your primary provider likely isn’t going to be much use to your out-of-country. And, whatever local service they transfer you to (or you’re forced to deal with) may be expensive or barely-function. So, you may end up relying on voice over IP (or VOIP) phone calls. These are internet-based services (e.g., Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) that allow you to make phone calls directly over your internet connection.

Finally! You can make calls. What a relief. Well, at least, you may be able to make calls. Remember that government censorship we were talking about? Sometimes that prevents you from using VOIP services. Plus, some VOIP services don’t work in certain countries, and some may even charge you extra.

With your handy-dandy VPN, you can make calls using any VOIP service. Again, your connection appears as if it’s coming from another country entirely. So, the VOIP service and the government firewalls won’t be blocking you from accessing the service.

  1. Game Like a Pro

Traveling abroad is filled with sightseeing, delicious foods, and incredibly fun adventures. But, when the day comes to an end, sometimes you just want to sit in your hotel room and boot up your PC and dive into some dungeon-crawling excitement. Alas, you may not be able to.

Why? Your game may prevent you from playing in another country. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be placed on the servers of the country your in. And that can make multiplayer games a serious pain.

But what if you could connect to the same servers you were connected to in the UK and game with your buddies? With a VPN, you certainly can. Again, you simply connect to a UK server, and you’re back in the action.

  1. Peer 2 Peer

Torrenting is an incredibly easy way to access files rapidly via shared data. But, it’s not always an option abroad. Not only will some countries downright block peer 2 peer resources and websites, but some countries will deny you from even using torrenting applications.

For many people, document sharing is a critical component of their work and entertainment life. VPNs not only bypass region and firewall blocks for torrenting, but they mask your identity while they’re at it. Because, believe it or not, it’s incredibly easy to figure out the IP addresses of everyone connected to a torrenting pool.

  1. Hide From Surveillance

When Edward Snowden broke the news about NSA activity in the United States, it was a wakeup call to the rest of the world. Governments are probably watching. And, while your own government spying on you is bad enough — having a foreign government spy on your activity is undoubtedly a nightmare scenario.

But, a plethora of governments across the world do just that. With a VPN, you can mask your traffic and ensure that no one is peeking in and trying to track your digital behavior. After all, you’re there to visit, not be spied on.

This feature is brought to you by Strictly Digital.