What is a VPN?
A VPN is an acronym for a Virtual Proxy Network. A VPN adds an extra layer of security when browsing the internet.
5 places to use a VPN when traveling
We have all been there where we have a long layover or experienced a delayed flight. One of the easiest way to pass the time is to get on our phone or use our laptop and connect to the free complimentary Wi-Fi. I connect in airport lounges all of the time when I travel, like the KAL lounge at LAX or the Dnata Lounge in Singapore.
While connecting to the free complimentary Wi-Fi sounds like a good idea, once connected you put your personal information at risk. Without the proper security to protect you, you are left vulnerable and an easy target.
The airport poses a very dangerous place for travelers for a few reasons. Let’s say you’re browsing and decide to purchase a few items on Amazon before your flight. A hacker could grab your credit card information and purchase items and while you’re flying and you would not know anything. Another example, your credit card can be charged while you’re traveling overseas and you might not have access to a phone or have reception.
After checking into your hotel, all you want to do is relax and just browse the internet while you adjust to the new timezone. Some might turn on their laptop to catch up on some work emails or video chat home to their loved ones.
Hotels typically offer free Wi-FI to their guests. But realize that, just because you’re in a room and feel the comforts of home – it doesn’t mean that your information is safe. Since all the hotel guests are connected to a common network, it can be just as easy for someone to penetrate the hotel wifi and exploit the users who are on it.
Every time I attend conferences, I notice that more than half of the attendees are on their laptop typing notes from the speaker. More often than not, the conference host will provide free Wi-Fi for attendees to connect and engage better throughout the conference.
Similar to Conferences, trade shows bring in many vendors and consumers will be drawn under one roof to interact with one another. For example, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), media and other people will want to stream live about new products. Depending on their phone service provider, they will opt-in use Wi-Fi to get a better connection. If you have sensitive information on your phone it can be attacked and exploited, which is more reason to get a VPN during business shows.
4. International Travel
Traveling abroad for vacation is always exciting. Travelers get caught up in the excitement of experiencing a new country that most often than none they leave themselves vulnerable. It’s easy to get complacent quickly when you are on a dream vacation. If you have traveled enough to exotic destinations around the world like myself, you know that it’s very easy to spot a tourist in a foreign country. This is why it’s important to never let your guard down. Beware of cities that offer Wi-Fi at iconic landmarks or near city government buildings.
5. Coffee Shops
Traveling, especially to different time zone will get you get jet lag. A quick fix to overcome that is a visit to the local coffee shop to wake up and plan your day. If a hotel doesn’t offer free WiFi to their guests then I normally find somewhere that offers it. As innocent as a coffee shop may seem, you put yourself at risk at any given time when you don’t use a VPN. Watch the video below as unsuspecting customers take advantage of free Wi-Fi and get caught off guard when this good guy hacker shows how easy it was to steal their personal information.
Make sure that your credit cards have fraud protection. Most banks have text or app banking capabilities that will alert you to suspicious activity.
Although it can be hectic and stressful right before leaving for a trip, call your bank and let them know where you’ll be traveling. Some banks allow you to notify them via a secure message on their website or mobile app. They will then continue to monitor for suspicious activity without locking down your card when you charge a credit or debit card transaction in a destination outside your normal spending patterns.
Pro Tip: When you call your credit card company to tell them you’ll be traveling, make sure to mention the cities that you’ll be connecting in. You don’t want a quick bite to eat or souvenir during a layover to result in your card being blocked when you arrive at your destination.
The Bald Thoughts
As a good rule of thumb is to always smart a run a VPN when you’re away from a trusted network. A lot of places mentioned above are known as soft targets. Meaning, someone can easily penetrate the network and steal information because of weak security. If you’re serious about considering a VPN to protect yourself for your upcoming travel, I would highly recommend Express VPN. I love it because the app allows me to have it not only on my laptop but my cell phone as well. No need for an extra license. Just download the app on your phone (Android or iPhone) or install it on your (Windows or iOS) laptop and you’re good to go! It has 94 countries and 145 cities worldwide to connect with which is great a frequent flyer traveler like myself. Lastly, if you use my direct link you will be able to receive an extra 30 days of Express VPN for free! That’s a $12.95 saving based on a monthly subscription.
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