Cyber crime is on the rise. Often when traveling you’re relying on free Wi-Fi and so putting yourself at risk of being a victim of online crime.
Wearing a money belt doesn’t seem to be as big as a priority now as protecting your data and privacy online. It’s time to focus on travel internet safety.
It’s time to focus on travel internet safety
I’ve been oblivious to internet safety and data protection for many years. I can be very blasé about things like security, often leaving my bag wide open for someone to walk by and nimbly swipe out my wallet.
I thought if I was connecting to a hotel wi-fi with a password it would be safe, right?
Many people are getting access to that password as they come in and out of the cafe or visit the hotel. Who knows how often they change the password or if they even do?
It’s pretty scary to think you could be enjoying some cool Jack Johnson tunes and a creamy cappuccino while uploading your favourite travel photos to Facebook, while an innocent looking fellow cafe lover secretly scans your computer and steals all your private information over that insecure internet connection.
With the rise of the cyber crime comes the rise of tools to help keep you internet secure and your data protected.
One of those is a VPN, otherwise known as a Virtual Private Network. They have other benefits aside from keeping you safe!
Travel VPN’s have other benefits aside from keeping your internet secure, which I’ll share below.
Now that I understand the benefits VPN’s offer, and the small cost to use a VPN, I won’t be traveling, or using unsecured Wi-Fi, without a virtual private network again.
Note to self Caroline: You went to the local cafe yesterday and forgot to use your VPN. It doesn’t just apply to the travel road!
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network technology that creates a secure network connection over a public network such as the Internet or a private network owned by a service provider.
To access the private network, you connect to the server with a unique personal ID and password.
When you connect to a VPN, you launch a VPN client on your computer (or click a link on a special website), log in with your credentials, and your computer exchanges trusted keys with a remote server.
Once both computers have verified each other’s identity, all of your internet communication is encrypted and secured from eavesdropping.
It all sounds so complicated, but it’s easy to use and keeps you secure. Internet safety check!
Why use a VPN when you travel
- Protect your online activities when you are using public Wi-Fi. For example, if you are shopping online or doing online banking, you are vulnerable to hacking attacks, even by a hacker or software. The VPN gives you an added layer of security so no one can steal your personal details.
- Access banned sites: Many countries ban access to certain sites, like Facebook in China. If you use a VPN you can connect to these banned sites. You can choose to connect to a VPN network from multiple countries. So connect to a VPN via Australia when you’re in China and you get Facebook access.
- With a VPN, you can access most streaming services that have local restrictions just as if you were in your home country. You can also connect to live streaming from other countries. For example, with our VPN service provider, we connected to the US Netflix the other night and had access to different movies than what is in our Australian account. Did you know US Netflix has way more on offer? There are very few VPN providers that get this Netflix access anymore. NordVPN, is our provider and one of the only ones that still can!
- Save money on flights. We’ve written a post on this trick before. If you can make it appear like you are accessing a flight booking website from another country, you may be able to buy flight tickets at a much lower price. That alone makes the small cost of a VPN worth it. Experiment by switching between different countries with a VPN to find the lowest airfare.
What to look for in a VPN service provider
- Ensure that the VPN provider you’ve chosen is open and honest about its traffic and security policies.
- Find a VPN service with accessible documents that detail how your data is handled from point to point.
- Make sure that the VPN provider you sign with won’t cap the bandwidth or the quantity of the data going through the tunnel. Sign up to a plan that doesn’t limit your traffic or cap you based on certain download quotas. What’s the point of paying for a VPN, only to have it cut you off halfway through the month?
- Keep an eye out for a VPN provider that will give you mobile options as well as desktop support. The internet goes everywhere with you on your smartphone, so your VPN should be able to as well.
- Easy to use and install – and look for a VPN provider that gives you instructions on how to do this and use the VPN service.
- Fast and reliable speeds. A VPN will slow down your internet connection as it is passing through a server rather than direct. But, find a provider that can give you the best possible speeds. Test it with their trial versions first.
- Use a VPN that works in multiple countries. China probably has the strictest rules so if a VPN service works there you will most likely be covered in a lot of countries.
- Use a VPN that can connect multiple devices. We rarely travel with only one device anymore. Geez! Remember when we travelled with none!!
NordVPN – our VPN service provider
There are many VPN providers to choose from. Do your due diligence and find one that suits your needs. I have not tried multiple VPN service providers so cannot tell you what the best VPN service is.
We use NordVPN, are happy with them and are now affiliates of them.
I did some research, tested NordVPN and liked them. I’m not great at shopping around – I bought the first wedding dress I saw and the only one I tried on. if you find something that works, why bother wasting your time trying to validate or verify your gut decision?
I used NordVPN recently for my trip to Downtown LA for the BlogHer conference. I used it as soon as I arrived at LAX because I had to top up my AT&T phone account so I could text my friend and order an Uber.
I went to do it using the free LAX Wi-Fi. It wouldn’t let me top up my account because it was an unsecured connection, which reminded me to use my VPN. I manage to connect straight away, top up my account and wipe the sweat from my brow.
It was easy, effortless, and secure.
Pricing (updated Jan 2020)
- The 1-month plan costs $11.95
- 1-year plan is $6.99/month
- 2-year plan is $4.99/month
- and their special 3-year deal is only $3.49/month.
Server number and countries
Currently they have 5500+ servers in 60 countries.
NordVPN offers encrypted proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers.
NordVPN has CyberSec feature that blocks dangerous websites and lets users avoid annoying ads.
How to access NordVPN
Accessing NordVPN is a simple as installing a software on your computer and the clicking the connect button when you want to use the VPN.
Sometimes I don’t get connected straight away. I have to try a few different servers first, which can be annoying. Once I do get connected through NordVPN, the speed, so far, has been fast and secure.
We’ve been able to watch Netflix on it without any interruptions, so speed has been good.
I love the cool way the NordVPN interface helps you choose the right connection for you. Select what your main aim is for when using the VPN for your session and it will show you which country the best servers are to fulfil that purpose.
You can also choose your server based on the map or a list of servers.
Internet security and VPN’s aren’t really a sexy topic so all I can say is it does its job of keeping me securely connected to the internet and allowing me to continue my current obsession with Bloodlines and Netflix streaming.
A few facts about NordVPN and their VPN service
- NordVPN has been in business since 2012 and is registered in the Republic of Panama. This is useful for VPN purposes as the country does not include legislation to spy on internet users through enforcing communications providers to maintain logs of their customers’ internet use.
- NordVPN is a free download with a subscription. Pricing is very flexible, with three tiers: $8 per month, $42 every six months, or $69 annually. NordVPN does offer a 30-day money back guarantee, but it applies only if the NordVPN service doesn’t work.
- NordVPN lets you select one of the company’s 80 VPN servers located in 27 countries. NordVPN lets you select the type of connection and server location. Connections are grouped by type, including ultrafast servers for streaming video along with DoubleVPN and Tor-over-VPN servers to better protect your privacy. There are FAQs and tutorials to help you understand what they all mean. I still don’t get it. I just choose the fast one for Netflix streaming. It does tell you when you go to connect which ones are for Netflix!!
- NordVPN also provides a Kill Switch feature. When configured, this monitors applications and processes you select. If your VPN connection is interrupted or dropped for any reason, those processes on the Kill Switch list are automatically closed. This is great, as it ensures that no unsecured data sneaks out.
- NordVPN also allows unmetered access for up to six devices, so you can keep all your devices secure at the same time.
- As mentioned, NordVPN is one of the few that can get you access to Netflix in other countries.
- NordVPN has global network (i.e 51 countries covering every continent except Antarctica), a 30 Day Money back guarantee (if the service doesn’t work) and excellent support.
VPNs are becoming the future in the world of tightening online security, and soon using a VPN will be as common as going online.
It’s cheap, effortless and gives me a lot back in return – security, safety, access to variety, and freedom to move around geographical restrictions!
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Do you use a VPN? Have you been a victim of cyber crime?