Though most travellers view themselves as tech-savvy and tuned in, mention VPNs to one and you might just be met with a perplexed expression. Well, first things first, a VPN is an app that you can utilise on your phone, computer or pretty much anything that connects to the internet, to secure your internet connection through another server. Sounds dry, sure, but the benefits are boundless, especially for those abroad wanting a slice of home. In short, it helps you access online content from any country in the world, safely and securely.
We know what’s coming next; travellers may protest that they’d much prefer to watch a sunrise than being cooped up in a hotel room watching something on iplayer. But sometimes, just sometimes, a few home comforts are a brilliant way to punctuate all those brushes with the unfamiliar that a great adventure brings. And as if you need any more persuading, here are 6 IDEAL reasons a VPN will make your travel experience so much better.
YOU CAN UNLOCK FILM CONTENT ACROSS THE GLOBE
We’ve all been there, trying to access a film online only to find its availability doesn’t coincide with the country we’re in. Perhaps you’ve got your eye on a movie which is out in the U.S but hasn’t reached these shores yet. Well, a VPN can place you, virtually of course, in any place you wish to be, therefore allowing you to watch any films released in that country.
Netflix, for instance, has wildly varied libraries according to country – the US Netflix has almost double the content than the UK Netflix – and the only way to access them without actually going there (which would be pretty expensive, wouldn’t it?) is to harness the power of your computer, using a specially designed VPN for Netflix.
WATCH TV CHANNELS FROM HOME
Feeling a bit homesick? Longing for the intro music on Match of the Day or Evan Davis’ cheesy puns as he introduces Dragon’s Den? Well, even when abroad, travelling and getting immersed in another culture, there’s no shame in occasionally longing for these domestic comforts. VPNs allow you to tune in – even live, if you so wish – to T.V from back home via iplayer, itv od, channel 4 od and so on. And although the typical ‘traveller’ may turn their nose up at a night spent in catching up on your favourite British soap operas, you’d be surprised how many fellow explorers are crowded around your laptop once you’ve fired up your VPN.
UNLOCK BLOCKED CONTENT
We’ve all heard the one about the ‘Great Firewall of China’. But a surprisingly large number of countries block websites they deem inflammatory, treasonous or in some way corrupting of the status quo. Want to access the beeb in Vietnam? Think again. The Daily Mail (why would you?) in Thailand? No chance. Need to network on Linkedin while in Russia? You’ll have to find another way. That alternative is, you guessed it, via a VPN.
KEEP-UP-TO-DATE WITH THE NEWS
Trying to keep up-to-date with the news when you’re travelling can seem like an impossible task. And even if you do try to keep up with current day events, there’s only so much BBC World News or CNN one watch in their hotel room. If you’re lucky enough to have a TV, that is. While it’s often easier to live in a world of blissful ignorance while you’re globetrotting, it’s important to know what’s going on in the real world.
With a VPN you’ll be able to keep abreast of current affairs by accessing those aforementioned blocked news sites like the BBC. Not only will be well informed about how world events might affect your travel plans and budget, you’ll also have intelligent, thoughtful conversation starters far removed from the usual ‘which bar is good for a cheap beer in….?’.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH LOVED ONES
Speaking of blocked content, many social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are censored – partially or completely – around the world. And genuinely, there’s often no great need for logging on to Facebook, for instance, then when you’re on your travels. Parents need to know you’re alive, friends need to be made jealous of your adventures, incriminating photos need to be desperately untagged before colleagues see. Some of the most desirable places in the world to travel in (Cuba, Vietnam, Sri Lanka….) have blocked social media, so a VPN is a good idea for easy contact with home when travelling.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the security a VPN can bring to your online activity when travelling. By now any seasoned traveller should be aware that public wifi represents an open door to hackers and those unscrupulous folk wishing to steal details from your online world. By using a VPN, you can surf and make transactions securely, as your I.P address is hidden when using the internet in a shared space.