Preparing for travel is already tricky but most of us instinctively think about packing our essential clothing, toiletries, first aid kit etc, our phone, laptop, camera, phone etc…. but wait did you pack your VPN Account? Some of you may say yes, but when travelling most people look at me stunned or confused when I asked if they have a VPN because they do not know what it is.
VPNs are not just used for privacy and security, which are very important on their own when travelling whether in the airport, or hotel and especially any “open/unescured wifi connection” your valuable information, details and pictures could be intercepted without a VPN.
VPNs are also used to make sure censorship, filtering and throttling cannot impact you and of course for your privacy and anonymity, it is a good idea and practice to use one all the time.
All VPNs are not created equally, there is a whole industry around providing VPN accounts but like with anything there are good and bad VPN providers and price varies wildly. But definitely expect on the average that the cheapest priced providers will give you more problems, this is because they attract people who often use the service for nefarious purposes that often result in DOS attacks or other service impacting problems.
This does not mean you need to spend a fortune on a VPN account but just be prudent in your choices and also beware of “VPN Review sites” they are mainly created to make money, that means they rank companies according to which one pays them the most commission! Trust independent websites and professionals to give you proper recommendations and also look to see if the company at least has a phone number you can call.
It’s also important to understand a little about VPN technology and products, there are 3 main types of VPNs which are important to know and understand.
There is PPTP, it is not as secure as the other types but it is easy to use and setup, virtually all computers and phones support it without any extra software. The problem is that PPTP is the most likely not to work or be blocked by different networks or countries
L2TP and IPSEC is very secure, slightly more tricky to setup and also widely supported on most platforms.
OpenVPN is one of the most versatile but is also sometimes blocked, sometimes this can be sorted out by some smart providers who will use different ports and protocols or will have many open/options in such a case.
Remember to buy and setup your VPN before you travel and also keep their e-mail address handy for support in case you cannot connect when you reach your destination (eg. if the service is blocked where you travel to).
Here is one of the better blog articles I found about VPN providers and helped me make me decision, mainly because the author explained what I mentioned earlier, how the VPN Review sites are biased (due to commissions paid). This blog article does not seem to make any money from the VPN companies because there is no affiliate link at all and I went with their #1 pick “Pro VPN Accounts“.