Best VPNs for International Travel: Stay Anonymous While Traveling

article by Nicky Hoseck
January 14, 2020
There’s nothing more exciting than heading off into the unknown to discover new countries, new cultures, and new cuisines. Depending on your destination, however, you’re bound to experience some disappointments, one of which could be the inability to share your experiences on social media because such sites are blocked by the government of the country you’re visiting.

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, knowing you can unblock the online content you want, when you want it, is important not only for keeping in touch with friends and staying up to date on the news back home but also in terms of accessing important services, like your online banking service.

Just as not every country has the same laws controlling internet access, so not all VPNs are made equal and some are more versatile and effective than others. That’s why we’re offering some handy tips on how to choose the best VPN for international travel.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here’s a summary of the best VPNs for overseas travel:

  • ExpressVPN – international coverage and reliable high-speed connections, coupled with a proven no-logging policy make ExpressVPN our choice as the best VPN for overseas travel.
  • CyberGhost – easy to use with a huge server network, NoSpy servers for extra security and the latest military-grade encryption.
  • Surfshark – allows unlimited simultaneous connections while providing fast speeds, an inbuilt adblocker and a dedicated No Borders mode.
  • ZenMate – adept at bypassing geographical restrictions while maintaining high speeds and using the latest encryption and most secure protocols.
  • ProtonVPN – P2P support, international coverage, and the option to include an encrypted mail service earn ProtonVPN a place in our list of the best VPNs for international travel.

Our choice for the best VPN for overseas travel is ExpressVPN.

Why You Need a VPN for International Travel

Do I need a VPN for traveling? In a word, yes, although the reasons why are both numerous and wide-ranging. Frequent flyers traveling for business will want to ensure any work documents or online communications stay safe while also staying in touch with friends and family back home.

Similarly, those on international business trips may want to while away an evening in a hotel room watching their favorite series on Netflix. Due to copyright restrictions, not all the content available on US Netflix is accessible from outside the country, which is where a VPN comes in. By masking your original IP address with one allocated to a US server, a VPN can bypass geographical restrictions and give you access to the entire Netflix library, or even the latest NFL action.

Another issue facing most travelers is that they rely on public Wi-Fi networks for their internet connection. Whether in the airport, a hotel, or an internet café, public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously vulnerable to cyberattacks. A VPN for overseas travel is the best way of protecting yourself against malware infections, identity theft and similar cybercrimes that are rife on such networks.

Certain destinations carry more dangers and limitations than others. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, numerous VoIP services are banned, including Skype, while authorized services, like the controversial ToTok VoIP service, could be channeling the contents of your private communications straight to government spies.

Meanwhile, according to the latest Freedom on the Net report, China “confirmed its status as the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom” as censorship expanded even further in light of the anti-government protests in Hong Kong and the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

During the first quarter of 2019, the Cyberspace Administration of China documented “the closure of over 2,000 websites for “illegal” content and the deletion of more than 89,000 social media accounts and chat groups for containing “harmful” information”.

Even before you start your trip, the best VPN for traveling abroad can prove beneficial in keeping the costs of your trip to a minimum. Airlines, car hire companies, and accommodation providers all use a system known as dynamic pricing which means you could be spending more than you need to on your flights, your hotel booking, and other similar services.

Dynamic pricing is one of the reasons it’s more expensive to fly to Paris for Valentine’s Day than it is at any other time of the year. In other words, it is partly related to demand. Another aspect that can influence flight prices, however, is your geographical location, which websites can ascertain via your IP address. If you live in an affluent country like the US, you’re liable to be shown higher prices than if you lived in a poorer country like India.

By using a VPN to create a fake IP address in a less affluent country, you could save tens or even hundreds of dollars on your flights, your hotel bookings, and even on pre-booked activities. For example, if you search for flights from New York to Beijing using a US IP address, Kayak.com will quote $963 as the cheapest flight available. Doing the same with a Slovakian IP address, however, will reveal a cheaper flight for just $863, meaning you save a whopping $100 before you even leave your house.

If you’ve been wondering, “Should I get a VPN for travel?”, this section should have convinced you that, not only is a VPN important for online security and anonymity, but the best VPN for traveling abroad can also save you money and mean you can travel the virtual world just as easily as you do the physical one.

How to Set Up the Best VPN for Overseas Travel

In some countries, VPNs are banned and therefore trying to secure a VPN subscription or even visit the site of the best VPN for traveling once you’ve already left can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. In China, for instance, VPNs have been banned altogether, which means a China travel VPN needs to be particularly adept at bypassing censorship and making encrypted VPN traffic look as much like regular internet traffic as possible.

Because of these issues, it’s important you select and subscribe to your chosen VPN service before you set off on your international journey. Of course, having a VPN in place before you start planning your trip is even more advantageous as it means you can save money on your flight and have more spending money to enjoy once you reach your destination.

While choosing the best VPN for travel is quite tricky, unless you take the advice laid out in this article, getting started once you’ve made your selection is surprisingly simple. Most VPNs are relatively lightweight pieces of software which makes them quick to download. Installation wizards facilitate the setup process, making it so easy your dog could do it if only he had opposable thumbs. Once the download and setup processes are complete, all you need to do is click on the connect button and away you go.

There are some tweaks and adjustments you might need to make to boost your VPN experience and turn it into the best VPN for traveling, but most reputable VPN providers will offer in-depth advance and troubleshooting guides to make this as simple as possible.

Once you’re up and running, it’s well worth turning on the auto-connect or always-on option so your VPN will automatically protect you the moment you connect to a public Wi-Fi network. For those simply wanting a little privacy while browsing, local VPN servers usually provide the best speeds, while those wanting to access US content will be looking for a VPN with plentiful servers in the US. Enabling your VPN kill switch is also advisable as this will prevent any leaks if your VPN connection suddenly fails.

The Best VPN for International Travel: Stay Anonymous While Travelling

When choosing a VPN for international travel, there are certain criteria that you need to look out for, including:

  • A large server network with servers in multiple countries
  • Ability to bypass censorship and geographical restrictions
  • Strong encryption
  • No-logging policy
  • High speeds and reliable connections
  • 24/7 online customer support
  • Auto-connect or Always-on feature
  • Kill switch or Network lock
  • Split-tunneling
  • Cross-platform compatibility

The best VPN for international travel includes all these important and more, with some including special servers or preset configurations for dealing with the problems users experience in highly restrictive countries like Bahrain or Belarus.

With these criteria in mind, we’ve come up with the best VPNs for international travel that will keep you connected and safe wherever you are in the world.

The Best VPN for Travelers

#1 ExpressVPN

Express VPN 210X100

With high-speed connections, cutting-edge technology and an unprecedented commitment to user privacy, ExpressVPN is not only the best VPN for overseas travel, but it’s also the best VPN for every situation and activity under the sun. While ExpressVPN doesn’t have the largest international server network, it does have servers in more countries than any other VPN provider.

ExpressVPN uses the latest encryption, coupled with exceptional DNS leak protection and zero-knowledge architecture to keep its users and their online activities both safe and anonymous. It is one of the few VPNs to have proven its no-logging policy in court while its commitment to transparency and reliability goes beyond the call of duty.

While ExpressVPN doesn’t offer all the advanced features of some of its rivals and limits the number of simultaneous connections to just five devices, the consistency, speed, and reliability of its service more than makes up for it.

ExpressVPN’s customer support service is as exceptional as its VPN technology and a 24/7 online chat service means you can get help troubleshooting regardless of international time differences. The network lock feature protects your device in the unlikely event of your VPN connection failing, while split-tunneling means you can send some data via the encrypted tunnel while allowing other traffic to bypass that tunnel. This means that you can use a US IP address to connect to your online banking service while using an IP address in the country you’re visiting to access local content.

ExpressVPN comes highly recommended as the best VPN for travelers and we can think of no reason you shouldn’t sign up today and take advantage of ExpressVPN’s highly competitive and affordable 15-month special. If you’re not sure you want to make such a long-term commitment, read our full review here and we’re sure you’ll be convinced.

#2 CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost boasts an impressive network of nearly 6,000 servers worldwide in 90- different countries while using the latest military-grade encryption to protect both its users’ identities and their data.

CyberGhost consistently bypasses even the most complex of geographical restrictions, meaning you can access Netflix or even watch the latest NFL action while overseas. This is hardly surprising given that it hosts a whopping 1070 servers in the US alone, ensuring users can always find a server with limited traffic that can provide a secure and fast connection.

Preconfigured profiles mean you can click on a single button and be instantly connected to your favorite US content, be it on Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix. CyberGhost’s “Unblock Basic Website” profile is particularly useful for those in countries with restrictive internet legislation as it allows users to surf freely, bypassing locally blocked platforms such as Facebook or Google.

Meanwhile, the “Protect my Internet” profile offers excellent protection and anonymous surfing on public Wi-Fi connections and includes automatic Wi-Fi detection so it can establish a secure VPN connection the moment it identifies an unsecured Wi-Fi network. By focusing on user activity rather than location, CyberGhost is more user-friendly than many of its rivals and means it’s giving ExpressVPN some serious competition when it comes to being the best VPN for travel.

CyberGhost ticks all the boxes in terms of the criteria we set out for choosing the best VPN for travel and its competitive pricing tiers make it an affordable alternative to ExpressVPN.

Curious about just how effective CyberGhost is? Find out more in our full review. If you feel you know enough to give it a whirl, you can sign up for CyberGhost here.

#3 Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

This lightning-fast VPN appeared on the cybersecurity scene in 2017 and since then appears to have gone from strength to strength. It may not have as large a server network as the best VPN for international travel, but it manages to produce reliable connections that are fast enough to stream or even torrent on.

With 1,068 servers in 61 countries, Surfshark’s service is geographically diverse and it has made operations easier by offering a variety of modes, each of which is designed for a specific purpose. If you simply want an anonymous browsing session, then the camouflage mode is the perfect choice.

If you’re in a heavily censored country, like China or the UAE, however, then its NoBorders mode can detect the kind of restrictions you’re dealing with and will automatically provide a list of special servers that will allow you to bypass those restrictions.

Another unusual feature of Surfshark is that is one of the few VPNs offering a double VPN service which adds another layer of security by diverting your traffic via two secure servers instead of one. For those dealing with sensitive material in a country with widespread censorship, this is particularly handy, although it can also be advantageous for those in countries with sluggish internet speeds.

Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands where the lack of data retention legislation means it can legally operate under a strict no-logging regime. Surfshark has a robust privacy policy and affordable pricing plans, although one of its most attractive features is that its one of the few VPNs to offer unlimited simultaneous connections.

If you want to find out more about Surfshark, check out our full review here. Alternatively, why not jump in at the deep end and sign up with Surfshark today?

#4 ZenMate

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As we move down the list, so the VPN providers become more limited in terms of providing the best VPN for travel. ZenMate has a host of advantages, including surprisingly fast speeds, the latest encryption, secure protocols, and P2P support, but don’t expect to be able to download it once you’ve left the country.

Although ZenMate is available in many places in the world, it has publicly announced that it no longer works in China. Having said that, for almost any other international destination, Zen<ate promises consistent speeds and excellent security, even for those opting for its limited free VPN service.

ZenMate offers one of the few free VPN services that gives users unlimited data, although free users will find their speeds capped and can only connect to four of ZenMate’s 1,500 or so servers. The ultimate plan is one of the cheapest premium VPNs currently available. Not only do ultimate users get support for P2P traffic and streaming, but they also benefit from being able to connect up to five devices at any one time and get both an adblocker and identity shield thrown in for good measure.

Although reliable and secure, ZenMate doesn’t operate the same kind of no-logging service as our best VPN for travel for the simple reason that it’s based in Germany and is therefore required to adhere to GDPR. ZenMate’s logs aren’t exactly intrusive, but it is required to keep a log of each user’s original IP address.

ZenMate may not be the best China travel VPN, but it’s not behind the best VPN for travelers when it comes to bypassing geographical restrictions or providing a secure connection. IF this sounds like the answer to your cybersecurity prayers, why not sign up with ZenMate today? Alternatively, read our full review to find out more.

#5 ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN 210x100 bg

With its comparatively small server network of just 648 servers in 44 countries, ProtonVPN may seem an odd choice for the best VPN for overseas travel but it has some surprising advantages. ProtonVPN evolved out of an encrypted mail service designed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). If that’s not enough to convince you of its security, then I don’t know what is. Certainly, ProtonVPN uses the latest AES 256-bit encryption coupled with Perfect Forward Secrecy to prevent your encrypted traffic from being intercepted or decrypted.

Despite its high level of security, ProtonVPN is no tortoise when it comes to connection speeds and, while some servers maybe a little more sluggish than others, overall ProtonVPN’s speeds are fast enough for streaming or torrenting and quick enough to compete with the best VPNs for international travel.

Based in Switzerland, ProtonVPN enjoys some of the world’s strongest privacy laws and operates an almost entirely no-logging service. The only thing ProtonVPN keeps a record of is the timestamp of each user’s last successful session – so nothing that’s going to expose you to cybercriminals or attract the attention of repressive government regimes.

ProtonVPN has a range of packages available, starting with a free version that gives users unlimited bandwidth, average speeds, and access to servers in three countries. At the other end of the scale is ProtonVPN’s visionary package which includes ProtonMail and access to Tor servers, while giving users the following benefits:

  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Fastest possible speeds
  • P2P support
  • Access to Secure Core servers
  • Safe streaming

If you’re looking for both speed and security but prefer to back the underdog, sign up with ProtonVPN today. If you’re not sure it offers the versatility and international coverage you require, however, find out more by reading our full review here.

How Do I Stay Safe Online While Traveling?

The best VPN for overseas travel is certainly the best way to protect yourself when heading out of the country, but there are few other tools and safety precautions you can take to boost your security even further.

With airport charging stations threatening the safety of both your device and your data, not to mention the manifold dangers of public Wi-Fi connections, the best VPN for traveling is only one aspect of a holistic approach to online security. A VPN can only go so far and using it in conjunction with the best antivirus software can bolster that protection.

Before you start packing, it’s well worth going through your passwords and making sure they’re all up-to-date and suitably secure. Using a password manager is one of the best ways of doing this, although some antivirus and internet security suites include some password management features.

Conclusion

For those still wondering, “Should I get a VPN for travel?”, this article should have convinced you of just how effective and crucial the best VPN for travelers is. The best China travel VPN will stop government spies from prying on your private communications and online activities by using advanced encryption technology to wrap everything you do in a virtual cloak of invisibility.

Not only that, if someone asks you, “Do I need a VPN for traveling?” be sure to remind them that without one, they could miss out on the new season of BoJack Horseman, due for release on Netflix at the end of January 2020.

It’s not only Netflix that the best VPN for overseas access can unblock and in countries where access to popular social media platforms is blocked, without a VPN you won’t be able to share any of your news or holiday snaps with your friends until you get home.

The best VPN for international travel is ExpressVPN which, by virtue of its geographically diverse server locations, consistently fast connections, and excellent privacy features, promises access to all your favorite content even if you’re stuck in the backwaters of a non-democratic country with heavy internet restrictions.

A VPN is the best way of ensuring you stay safe online as you travel the world and means you’ll always be able to access your favorite content and stay in touch with friends and family without the fear of cyberattacks or government spies.

Why You Need a VPN for Traveling

A virtual private network (VPN) uses end to end encryption, keeping all of your online activities private and safe from cybercrime. Here’s why it’s a good idea to use one while traveling abroad:

  • There’s no chance of being observed by overseas governmental institutions as you check ‘blocked content’.
  • You can access blocked content in your destination country – which you might not have even known was blocked to begin with.
  • In certain countries, for example: China and the UAE, access to some social media is restricted including Skype, Snapchat and WhatsApp – with a VPN, these are accessible.
  • You’ll be able to keep up with your favorite shows; for example geoblocked content such as access to the US library for Netflix.

With a VPN, you’ll be able to access all of these geo-sensitive channels and applications. Plus, you’ll also be able to log onto public Wi-Fi in your hotel or local cafes without the fear of someone stealing your ID and password, or any sensitive information. You can totally go to town and no one has to know any of your business. So what is the best VPN for international travel?

How to Setup a VPN for Traveling

Setting up a VPN for traveling is straightforward, and similar to using your VPN as you would at home!

  • Choose the VPN which works best for you – we have a selection you might like to try, below,
  • Install and run the software. Once the VPN is installed, choose the location you’d like to surf from – this is known as the ‘server’ location, although some VPNs will have a world map of locations, which you can choose from too,
  • Choose your location, click start – and surf to your heart’s content.

It’s incredibly simple install a VPN – no need for a tech expert (or sufficiency in your destination country’s language!).

The Best VPNs for International Travel

There are a few things you need to take into account when looking for best VPN service for international travel, you need to make sure that the VPN:

  • Has multiple servers available based in different countries, and which you can use to access international content,
  • Is secure and private – you can never be too sure as to the level of online security when abroad,
  • Has fast speeds – so whatever your location, you can freely stream, watch movies or video call without frustrating glitches.
  • Has auto-connect features – so you can connect instantly, hassle-free.
  • Preferably has unlimited bandwidth, you don’t have any extra costs to consider while abroad,
  • Allows for multiple devices to connect – particularly good for if you are traveling with friends/family/colleagues or have multiple devices.

#1 ExpressVPN – The Best Travel Mate

ExpressVPN Logo

Being the number one trusted leader of all VPNs, ExpressVPN is pretty hard to beat making it the best VPN service for international travel. With such a huge variety of VPN locations to choose from (145 to be precise), you would have to be extremely unlucky to not be able to find a server in your destination country. You can literally connect from nearly anywhere worldwide.

With ExpressVPN you can be sure that you’ll be getting top speeds and the added bonus of unlimited bandwidth so you can stream to your heart’s desire. With 256-bit AES encryption (super high for the technophobes), you can remain certain your sensitive information is secure while abroad. If you need to transfer some money or get some private business done on your trip, you can be sure that with a totally hidden IP, your data is in safe hands. ExpressVPN is compatible with all devices, so no matter what device you have, you can be sure it’ll work. ExpressVPN has our vote in being the best VPN for international travel.

Price:

  • $12.95 a month
  • $9.99 a month for a six-month plan
  • $6.67 a month for a 15-month plan (including three months free!)

Try Now ExpressVPN – Risk Free – 30 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on ExpressVPN features, read our extensive ExpressVPN review.

#2 Hotspot Shield – Notuouris Travel VPN

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Hotspot Shield is perfect for those with an un-techy background, being very user-friendly. It’s a great overseas VPN for personal use and would be a worthy travel companion. If travelling with family or friends, Hotspot Shield has the advantage of being able to connect to up to five devices at one time, meaning everyone can be browsing simultaneously. It’s not so much geared towards companies but more for personal use – that’s all you really need if your VPN is geared towards traveling abroad. With SSl encryption, Hotspot Shield is available on Windows, Mac, IOS, and Android and you can browse with confidence in knowing your IP is secure, allowing for total online anonymity.

One of the main issues we found, however, is with their tech support, if you do run into trouble whilst abroad it could be tricky getting a prompt answer. They do have a live chat option, but when we tried using it, it simply wasn’t available when we needed it most.

Price:

  • $12.99 a month
  • $8.99 a month for a six-month plan
  • $5.99 a month for a one year plan
  • Current limited offer: $119.99 Lifetime plan – one-time payment!

Try Now HotSpot Shield – Risk Free – 30 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on HotSpot Shield features, read our extensive Hotspot Shield review.

#3 CyberGhost – 45 Day Money Back Guarantee

CyberGhost VPNThis Romanian-based VPN service offers over 5,900 servers in as many as 90 countries all over the world. When traveling you want the freedom to stream all your favorite shows from all the popular streaming platforms like Netflix as well as protect your WiFi connection at all times. Luckily, CyberGhost allows this for you with its military-grade security and high-end encryption.

Having around 150 million users makes CyberGhost one of the most popular VPN service providers. This is due to the easy to navigate interface and fantastic 45-day money-back guarantee. Whilst other VPN services make you jump through hoops and tie you down with contracts, CyberGhost will return your money within the 45 days, no questions asked.

One of the only downfalls of this VPN is that it has trouble with getting around the Great Firewall of China, so it might be a good idea to look at other options if you’re heading over there.

Price:

  • $11.99 a month
  • $7.99 a month for a 6-month plan
  • $2.75 a month for an 18-month plan

Try Now CyberGhost – No Risk – 45 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on CyberGhost features, read our extensive CyberGhost review.

#4 SurfShark – Enjoy Unlimited Simultaneous Connections While Abroad

Surfshark VPNKeeping your online connection completely safe is essential when traveling, especially when you don’t know of the constantly changing internet laws in different countries. A lot of the time you will have to rely on public WiFi, which is often not secure, leaving you and your personal information vulnerable. You can be sure that any public WiFi hotspot is secure with this VPN provider.

Use online banking freely without thinking about who can potentially be getting a hold of your bank account information. Having jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands means that not even the authorities will be able to get their hands on your data logs because Surfshark doesn’t keep them. Lightning-fast speeds and built-in ad tracker, and malware blocking as well as unlimited simultaneous connections, all make this VPN a great choice for those going traveling.

Price:

  • $11.95 a month
  • $5.99 a month for a yearly plan
  • $1.99 a month a two-year plan
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Try Now Surfshark – Risk Free – 30 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on Surfshark features, read our extensive Surfshark 

#5 ZenMate – Perfect for Beginner VPN Users

 zenmate 210x100This VPN service has hundreds of servers around the world in thirty countries, but that number is quickly growing as ZenMate has only been around for a couple of years. You can secure as many as five devices simultaneously and ZenMate will work with all the major platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

This straightforward VPN is well designed for non-technical users so it’s a great option for beginners wanting to secure their online activity when away. Premium users get a web firewall as well as ad-blocking and tracker blocking, but you will have to download them separately. Should your VPN connection fail for some reason you can rely on the ZenMate kill switch to end all your online activity so you remain anonymous at all times.

Price:

  • $9.99 a month
  • $3.99 a month for a yearly plan
  • $2.05 a month a two-year plan
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Try Now ZenMate – Risk Free – 30 Days Money Back Guarantee

For more information on ZenMate features, read our extensive ZenMate review.

How Do I Stay Safe Online While Traveling

A VPN is a traveler’s secret weapon and the ultimate protection whilst traveling, but there are other ways you can stay safe online:

  • Make sure all devices are password protected with strong passwords
  • Keep devices updated and back up your devices
  • Don’t shout out on social media that you are traveling
  • Stay away from public WiFi, especially without a VPN – big no no.
  • For laptops – disable file sharing and turn on firewall, make sure to set it to block incoming connections
  • Again, top advice: Use the best VPN for overseas travel – ExpressVPN!