As a traveler, there are very few services quite as important as a Virtual Private Network, or “VPN”. Not only does it secure your internet traffic no matter what public network you use, it could also open up a whole new world of entertainment and save you hundreds of dollars. Wait…how is that possible, you ask? Check out these three pro tips for using a VPN while traveling to find out.
While for some travelers a VPN is a luxury, there are an increasing number of countries where internet censorship requires the use of a VPN.
China is a great example, where a VPN is needed to access blocked websites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and others.
VPNs offer both data encryption (online security) and the ability to circumvent internet censorship, but there are added benefits that most people don’t realize exist.
Not only can these VPN tips open up a new world of content for you, it may even save you hundreds of dollars.
How is that exactly?
Take a moment to see exactly what I mean and perhaps you can start using these three VPN tricks today!
Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use the services listed. I only recommend what I use personally, however, and I appreciate your support of this free website!
Use a VPN to Unlock Streaming Content
One of the most well-known tips for using a VPN as a traveller is to allow you to stream Netflix, Pandora and a few other sites that restrict access to content based on my physical location.
This is called geoblocking content, and as much as I hate it, it’s a reality that you’ll face as a traveler.
What I didn’t realize until this past year, however, was that Netflix had a treasure-trove of content I didn’t know existed. I started streaming Downton Abbey, Modern Family and now I even watch the Big Bang Theory on Netflix!
Keep in mind that none of these shows are available on Netflix in the U.S.
How did I do it?
Simple: it was available to stream from other countries.
Taking Advantage of International Licensing Deals
You see, Netflix has different licensing deals with different countries, so the library of movies and TV shows in the US is different than that of Canada, which is different than that of the U.K. By switching my VPN to a server in either Canada or Great Britain, I am able to access quite a few different movies that weren’t available to me before. I love it!
So to demonstrate, I did a quick search for Denzel Washington movies (he’s one of my favorite actors). This is how my search turned up using a United States-based VPN server:
Ok, not bad, but not a great representation of the movies that have made me really like him.
A total of 7 Denzel Washington movies, only 2-3 that I would really care to watch.
So then I switch my VPN to Canada. Here’s what that same search looks like:
Hmm…that’s more like it!
I now have six more Denzel Washington movies to choose from, a few of which I would like to see rather than “Out of Time”.
One last try here, this time using a server in the United Kingdom:
Crimson Tide! Now that’s a great Denzel movie.
As you can see, by using a VPN in three different countries, I’ve increased the number of movies I can watch from 6 to 16!
What’s crazy is that I just gave you an example from 3 different countries. Netflix has service all over the globe including France, Germany, Australia, Switzerland…the list goes on. Imagine the streaming options!
“Is this illegal?” It’s a fair question you may be asking yourself.
I pay for my Netflix service and I hold a US passport so I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. The fact is that Netflix knows that this is happening and could stop it if they want to…but they won’t.
The day they block me is the day I cancel my subscription.
2. Use a VPN to Get Cheaper Flight Tickets
Have you ever searched for a flight online, compared prices and then gone back to the original site to search only to find that the flight price has increased?
How does that ALWAYS happen?
Online ticket agencies know how easy it is to shop prices so they have combated that by promoting a mentality “If I don’t get it now…the price will increase!”.
That’s not to say that ticket prices don’t naturally rise and fall, but within the span of an hour or two?
One of the ways I avoid this problem is to search for flights using one server and then buying that same ticket using another VPN server in the same country.
This is one of my favorite tips for using a VPN for travel!
As far as the search engine can tell, I’m two different people searching for the same flight. 90% of the time I never experience the price hike.
Here’s one more pro tip for using a VPN as a traveler: did you know that online ticket agencies have different pricing for different countries? They will sell a ticket to somebody buying from the US at a different price than that same person buying from Australia – no matter what passport they hold.
In the above test done by VpyrVPN, they searched for a flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, United States. Searching Kayak using servers in different countries they found a flight priced at $2,929 for people in New Zealand. That same flight was priced at $5,424 using a server in Lithuania!
That’s a difference of almost $2,500 for the SAME FLIGHT!
They found out that the same is true not only for flights but also for car rentals. Click here to see the entire results of the test.
3. Use a VPN to Access Time-Restricted Content
Along these same lines, another useful tip for using a VPN as a traveler has to do with resetting time limits.
There are times while I’m watching something online – usually sports related content – or using a free service when I am told that I have either spent too much time watching or using their service without being a paying subscriber.
It might look something like this:
All I have to do is change my VPN and all of the sudden…BAM!…my limits are reset.
I try not to take advantage of this too much as this to me is a questionable usage of a VPN.
Still, I justify it in some cases because if they kept me from streaming that sporting event (say a football game) I would just have to go find it elsewhere, robbing them of advertising dollars.
Final Thoughts | Pro Tips for Using a VPN
As you can see above, in addition to providing online data protection and censorship fixes, a VPN can also:
- Give you access to tons of great entertainment from different countries;
- Unlock thousands of dollars of savings on flight and car rental prices;
- Provide a way to watch time-restricted services;
Again, I recommend using either ExpressVPN or NordVPN – both excellent options that have been around for many years and used by millions of online users. For me, there are a number of great VPNs for China, but in the end, these two always rank as the best.
Make sure you set up your VPN before you start traveling and then enjoy the benefits!