How to Use Wi-Fi Safely While Traveling Overseas
Your cell phone provides you with some of the best security protections for using the Internet while traveling.
However, if you’re traveling overseas, on an ocean or river cruise, or perhaps in a remote destination, Wi-Fi might be your only option. And frankly, with some Wi-Fi connections, you’d have more privacy running down the street naked than you would by connecting to some of the Wi-Fi networks out there.
So, what is a traveler to do?
Free Wi-Fi has become relatively ubiquitous. But we have always had a rule in our house to never connect to free Wi-Fi as many of these systems are easily hacked. And so, we’ve often found ourselves unable to connect to the Internet because we had a weak cellular signal and didn’t trust the free Wi-Fi.
To solve this problem, I have been testing the use of a VPN over the course of the last month.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure tunnel between your device and the internet. VPNs are used to protect your online traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship.
6 Benefits of Using a VPN
- Hide your IP and location: If you don’t want snoopy folks to know where you are, then a VPN can mask your location. Carol and I might be in France, but we can connect to a VPN server here in Phoenix and no one would know that we are half a world away.
- Encrypt your communications: A good VPN will use strong 256-bit encryption to protect your data. So, browsing the Internet from airport Wi-Fi spots is totally secure and will protect your valuable passwords, emails, photos, and other sensitive information.
- Watch your favorite content anywhere in the world: Carol and I were on a river cruise and I decided that I would like to watch a movie using our Netflix account. When I tried to connect, Netflix said, “sorry Charlie”, your account isn’t available outside of the U.S. With a VPN, I could have connected to a U.S. VPN server and watched my movie.
- Unblock censored websites: Some countries block sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you use a VPN, you can mask your location to nearly anywhere in the world. If you’re headed to China, a VPN is nearly a must if you desire to use the Internet and connect by Wi-Fi.
- Avoid spying and throttling: With a VPN guarding your online activity, no one can read your data, see which sites you visit, or restrict certain kinds of traffic, like streaming video.
- Find deals and fight ads: When you’re shopping on the Internet, hiding your IP address and location will help prevent targeted advertising based on location. With a VPN, if you don’t like the price of airline tickets in your location, log on to a VPN server in another location and see if you get a better price. It’s a fairly well-known fact that if you live in a prosperous zip code, you are going to pay more for many things while shopping on the Internet.
- Bonus Tip: Consider using a web browser that is also dedicated to protecting your identity. I am writing this article using Google Chrome as my browser. However, I know darn well that if were to open another tab and look for a pair of shoes, I am going to immediately see shoe ads all over the place because Google has sold my Internet search. So, I have Firefox and DuckDuckGo on my computer to use when I’m shopping in conjunction with my VPN. That way, I’m nearly invisible and no ads.
I haven’t personally used our VPN outside of the country yet, but so far, I’m very happy with this service as we’ve been traveling around the U.S.
Carol and I are using a company called ExpressVPN for our service. If you’re so inclined, use this link to get a free 30-day trial and try it out for yourself.
Disclosure: if you use that link, we will benefit with some free time on the service for ourselves as well. Just keeping it real and upfront. 🙂
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