Travelers nowadays use a plethora of gadgets and love to be constantly online. It's impossible to go somewhere without seeing everyone face down over their phone, tablet or computer and however you might feel about this, the fact still remains that people are connected more than ever, even in the most remote corners of the world. And being connected also means that others can be connected to you, not always in a good way.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is basically a method for keeping your internet activity really secure from peeping outsiders. I'm not going to go into much more detail about it since the internet is flooded with information about the VPN technology, but our friend Wikipedia has the full definition: Wikipedia - Virtual private network
So why do you want to use it? Here's a few real life examples.
Safety on public wifi
Usually I don't care that much about my traffic on a public wifi connection since I mostly just waste time on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit (except in Indonesia, read more about that below) or look for useful information about the place I'm in. But if you are shuffling more sensitive data, it's wise to do whatever you can to make sure you're not being spoofed or hacked. Since using a VPN encrypts your data, it's nearly impossible for your malicious neighboring coffee drinker to get hold of your precious information.
The Internet Service Providers are evil
While traveling you will connect to a number of different ISPs since they are the ones handling your internet traffic. These are not regulated like we're used to in Europe and more often than not do evil things without your consent. Here's an example I came across recently in Indonesia when connected to the Telkom network. Looking at the source code of any website, you will see the following code being inserted:
What they do is basically inserting advertisment on every site you visit so they can make an extra buck or rupiah out of your internet usage.
In the Philippines, Globe Network is doing a similar thing by inserting a toolbar they call "my web acceleration" or something, which also is a mean to display ads wherever they want. And to track what you are doing.
Sites are blocked
In Indonesia, most (if not all) ISPs are blocking reddit.com. You either get an alternative page, most likely advertisment or nothing at all. And you will not be able to access your favorite porn sites either.
What about Bittorrent?
Most of the time the traffic is "just" throttled so you get a speed of 0.2kb while downloading, but in other places it might be blocked altogether. So no more downloading Game Of Thrones.
Reclaim your privacy
So what can you do to evade the above privacy intrusions? Subscribe to a VPN service. There are free options, but they are choppy at best, so it's better to get a paid subscription. It's sad that one even have to pay for privacy, but it's currently the best option you got if you want your internet freedom back.
So, sign up for a VPN provider and start using it as soon as possible. There's a ton of different VPN providers out there, but after doing some research I decided to go with Torguard, mainly because they have VPN servers spread out all over the world and I can choose to connect to one close to where I currently am and their software is really easy to use.
Note: The Torguard link above is an affiliate link. If you use it, Torguard gives me a little percentage to help pay my bills. It doesn't cost you more, I promise. It's like you helping me helping you :)