As anyone who’s ever been abroad before knows, when traveling you’re desperate to connect to any open Wi-Fi network which will allow you in. But, simply put, using a shared network – especially internationally – is dangerous business.
Yes, you might want all of your home comforts – your favorite TV shows, news sites and more, keep in touch with your friends and family, or even if you’re abroad on a working holiday and need to access all of your files and documents (some of which may even be on a secured, geoblocked company network).
Surfing the web abroad has many increased risks and frustrations, including:
- Blocked access to social networks, including WhatsApp and Skype, making it difficult to connect to loved ones or make business calls,
- Geoblocked content – not having access to your go-to sites, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more.
- Posting updates or sending information without a secure connection,
- Identity theft – either as a result of social media stream posting or an unsecured network – as there are literally thousands of other international travelers all attempting to connect to the same network as you.
The list of risks are worryingly long and the only way to keep yourself protected when traveling abroad and surfing online is by keeping all of your online activities totally secure and private. How you ask? By simply using an overseas VPN.
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
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.
- $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!)
For more information on ExpressVPN features, read our extensive ExpressVPN review.
#2 Hotspot Shield – Notuouris Travel VPN
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.
- $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!
For more information on HotSpot Shield features, read our extensive Hotspot Shield review.
#3 VyprVPN – Value for Money
Golden Frog’s VyperVPN offers an excellent VPN service and has extremely fast download speeds (perfect for downloading your favorite movies or large documents when travelling). Its basic service supports all devices but only up to three connections. If you decide to upgrade and pay a little more for premium it does allow for five devices (if you’re a solo traveler this might not make any difference to you, but if traveling with your family or in a group, then it’s something to consider).
One of the major issues with this VPN is that there’s some session logging, VyperVPN will retain the user’s source IP address for 30 days, which is important to take into account. If you’re looking for complete anonymity, no matter what, then perhaps this is not the VPN for you.
- $9.95 a month
- $5.00 a month for a 12-month plan billed annually
- Premium plan: $12.95 a month or $6.67 a month for the one-year plan.
There is a three day free trial, which we feel is a little bit stingy especially when comparing to the 30 day money-back guarantee that some other VPNs offer (such as ExpressVPN).
For more information on VyprVPN features, read our extensive VyprVPN review.
#4 PureVPN – Helpful P2P features
With a massive 180 country locations, just beating ExpressVPN, PureVPN is a monster putting it up there in being almost the best VPN service for international travel, in terms of its server locations. From a technical perspective it is one of the best VPN vendors out there. One reason they aren’t quite at the top is that they do log connection information (but we are grateful for their honesty in explaining exactly what they do and don’t log). One other downside that should also be noted, is that they don’t (yet) support bitcoin payments which may be good to know for those of you doing business abroad.
With that said, they have a very fast performance and should be able to support all your VPN needs.
- $11.95 a month
- $8.95 a month for a six-month plan
- $2.91 a month for a two-year plan
PureVPN isn’t quite as generous as some of the other VPN and only offers a seven-day money-back guarantee.
For more information on PureVPN features, read our extensive PureVPN review.
#5 IPVanish – Fair Speed for a Fair Price
IPVanish claims the same mightily strong 256-bit AES encryption levels as ExpressVPN and deletes all traffic logs and previous searches. Fast streaming should be a breeze, you can surf abroad safe in the knowledge that all your tracks have been covered. The app and software in general is very user friendly and if you are having any issues, simply contact their customer support team via email (unfortunately there’s no live chat but you should get a reply within a couple of hours).
One of the main downsides to IPVanish is that it is not compatible with iOS (sorry iPhone users) but it is still up there in being one of the best VPN for overseas travel.
- $7.50 a month
- $6.74 a month for a three-month plan
- $4.87 a month for a 12-month plan billed annually
Like PureVPN, IPVanish also only offer a seven-day refund policy.
For more information on IPVanish features, read our extensive IPVanish 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!