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The Four Best VPN Travel Hacks
Chelsea Corarito
Chelsea Corarito

Director of Marketing @ Batten

Why You Need a VPN Before and While You’re Traveling

Whether you are traveling home to see family for the holidays or finally booking that dream vacation you put on hold for the last two years, everyone can appreciate a good travel hack. When you use a VPN, or virtual private network, has a multitude of benefits when it comes to protecting you online. But did you know that virtual private networks also offer several massive benefits for travelers? Once you know about the pros and cons of a reputable VPN service, you’ll recognize a few of these benefits and probably want to take advantage of the others you may not have thought of.

Find the Best Airfare and Hotel Deals

A VPN provider reroutes your internet traffic through servers abroad to keep your online presence anonymous. That’s how it hides your website traffic from hackers, your internet service provider, and tracking software. One consequence of this is that depending on where a server is located, your airfare website could present you with cheaper flights. Flight prices to a foreign country often depend on the destination of where a website thinks you are located. If I am looking for a flight from New York to Tokyo, airline tickets are going to be expensive. But if I use a VPN to reroute my internet data to a server in Singapore, those same tickets will appear much more affordable. And when you use a VPN on booking sites to find the best airline deals, you can find some significant savings. With a VPN, a cheap flight can be found to nearly anywhere!

Just like when looking for airfare, the best VPN services will help you book hotel stays with better prices as well. By concealing your IP address and encrypting your data, hotel websites can’t use that information to charge you a more expensive price. The price difference will be most notable when booking stays out of the country. Since you can use a VPN to change your location to a destination closer to where you are looking to book a hotel, you’re likely to see lower prices. You may or may not notice such drastic price fluctuations when you’re booking out of state, for example.

To find the best deals on airfare and hotel rooms while using a VPN, remember these tips:

  1. If you are looking for domestic flights, choose the closest server to your destination. A cross-country flight can be on the pricier end. But if your server shows up as the next closest metropolis, you’re likely to get a better deal.
  2. Many booking sites penalize you for looking for the same flight over and over again. By using a VPN, you can avoid seeing the same flight go up in price just because you’re comparison shopping.

Happy airfare and hotel hunting!

Connect to Public Wi-Fi Safely While Traveling Abroad

Free Wi-Fi can be a major help when traveling abroad, especially when it comes to keeping in contact with friends and family, checking your accounts via online banking, or accessing travel plans and directions. However, just like here in the States, there could be threats lurking in publicly available internet connections. The numbers reveal an epidemic: 25% of travelers were hacked while abroad.

A public internet connection is a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals looking for easy ways to access your information. It’s one of the methods that can lead to identity theft. It’s also an easy avenue for malicious viruses to attach themselves to your personal computer, tablets, and phones. It’s best to avoid open internet connections like public WiFi networks as much as possible. Whether it’s at the airport, on a plane, at a coffee shop, or even in your hotel lobby. It’s better to wait for a network that has at least some security, including requiring a password to join.

However, if you have a virtual private network, worries about public WiFi can be forgotten. Since one of the main benefits of a good VPN is that it encrypts your device’s data, it’s nearly impossible for a hacker or cybercriminal to access your data or devices. So if you need to pull up the directions to your AirBnB for the third time and are desperate for an internet connection, your VPN software can protect your internet usage from hackers looking to access your bank account or credit card details when you aren’t looking.

Avoid Hackers While Using In-Flight Wi-Fi

Did you know that in-flight Wi-Fi has almost no security protections to speak of? When you’re excited about international travel to other countries, you aren’t thinking about whether your internet connection is secure when you’re looking at your online banking account or credit card limit.

Tourist-frequented locations are highly targeted by cybercriminals. Remember that 25% of travelers being hacked statistic up above? Travelers are focused on enjoying their trip or worrying about a business presentation when they’re traveling for work. Cybersecurity protection isn’t top of mind, particularly when traveling abroad. Excitement, preoccupation, and even sleep deprivation all lead to missed opportunities for travelers to protect themselves from hackers while going online.

In fact, it isn’t only cybercriminals who could be watching your every digital move as you use your personal device on a flight. Government agencies use insecure connections like the ones on planes to gain access to a variety of individuals’ data. In a leaked NSA document that’s dated as far back as 2010:

“What do the President of Pakistan, a cigar smuggler, an arms dealer, a counterterrorism target, and a combatting proliferation target have in common? They all used their everyday GSM phone during a flight, and were tracked by the SIGINT system.”

While many average citizens aren’t typically concerned with their information being accessed by a government entity, it proves the point of how unsafe connecting to public Wi-Fi can be.

A woman lays out by the side of a pool

Access Banned Content in Countries with High Censorship

For anyone traveling to a country known for their online censorship (China, North Korea, Iran) VPNs have the capability to bypass those lockdowns. Because a VPN works on the basis of having your encrypted data bypass through another (or several!) server located in another country, you can access banned content. So, even if you are in China, your VPN will cause your online traffic to look like it is located in another country, bypassing restrictions from the Chinese government. This can be especially effective if you have a good VPN that allows for multiple server redirects. NordVPN, for instance, calls this feature “Double VPN”: it encrypts your data twice, making it nearly impossible for your data to be tracked.

While not having access to the same streaming content through apps like Netflix or Hulu is one low-risk reason people use a VPN, accessing banned content can be very important. Government employees and journalists, for example, may need to work around firewalls and content bans in order to effectively do their jobs. In cases such as these, you could be required to access a government network before going online or using a mandated VPN service.

Our Top Expert-Recommended VPNs

Now that you know the top four ways that a VPN can benefit you as a traveler, it’s time to choose the right VPN for you. We have a handy guide that we wrote to break down what features make the most sense depending on your lifestyle. But to keep things simple, we’ll share our top two VPN picks based on our cybersecurity advisor’s recommendations:

Nord VPN
Nord VPN
$59.00 / yearly
buy on nord

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT

  • Hides your IP address on public WiFi like airports or coffee shops from hackers.
  • It has a fast setup, a friendly interface, and a notably pleasant user experience all around.
  • The browser extension is discreet and can be paused to access VPN-restricted sites.
  • They don’t blast you with emails or cross-selling.

BEST FOR

  • Anyone looking for a simple, quiet, and reliable VPN.
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
$80.00 / yearly
buy on expressvpn

WHY WE RECOMMEND IT

  • It offers a simple user interface that makes it easy to use while providing excellent browsing protection.
  • Block your internet provider’s ability to track and share your online activity data.
  • Compatible with virtually any device ranging from your router to your computer to even your AppleTV.
  • 24/7 support over live chat/email to troubleshoot your connection any time of the day or night.

BEST FOR

  • Individuals who want a simple VPN for secure working, whether in a coffee shop in their hometown or while traveling worldwide.

Time to Get Your Travel On

You’ve got the tools, you’ve got the tips, now it’s time to use your VPN to take advantage of its many benefits when planning a trip and while traveling.

Curious about other cybersecurity tools that can keep you safe online? Check out our full Resources blog about cybersecurity and all our expert-recommendations in our Marketplace.