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 CyberGhost – 45 Day Money Back Guarantee
This Romanian-based VPN service offers over 3,000 servers in as many as 60 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.
- $11.99 a month
- $7.99 a month for a 6-month plan
- $2.75 a month for an 18-month plan
For more information on CyberGhost features, read our extensive CyberGhost review.
#4 SurfShark – Enjoy Unlimited Simultaneous Connections While Abroad
Keeping 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.
- $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
For more information on Surfshark features, read our extensive Surfshark
#5 ZenMate – Perfect for Beginner VPN Users
This 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.
- $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
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!