Using VPN when you travel: Access your favourite sites and protect yourself online

Joanna Horanin

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Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

What to do when you are travelling and can’t access sites like Facebook due to restrictions in the country you are in? How do you make sure that your private emails and other applications are not hacked? Using VPN might be the answer. Read on to find out how to always access your favourite websites and how to protect yourself online when you travel.

I discovered how great VPN is when I travelled to Iran. After I bought my SIM card, it was very easy to connect to VPN and then use Instagram or Facebook. In this post I will tell you all I know about VPN when travelling, how to use it and about my favourite VPN company.

What is VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network. It is a protected network connection when using public network. Thanks to VPN you can disguise your online identity. It helps you to keep yourself protected online, but you can also connect to the internet in a way that it will look like you’re in a different country. This way when being in Thailand, you will be able to access sites blocked by the Thai government.

VPN is commonly used in countries like China or Iran, where the usage of Facebook or Instagram is limited or entirely blocked.

The main benefits of VPN

VPN can be used everywhere as long as you have the internet connection. The main reasons of using it are:

  • You can watch TV, TV shows and films from other countries. For example if you live in Portugal, but want to watch BBC, you can only do it if you have VPN.
  • You can access sites that are blocked in a particular country. If you are travelling around Iran, you can access social media with VPN.
  • You can transfer data safely. If you handle sensitive information, VPN enables you to transfer data without problems and risks that you’ll be hacked. VPN services connect to private servers and use encryption methods to reduce the risk of data leakage.
  • Some VPNs offer creating safe passwords, so you are safe when logging into your banking, emails, or social media.

How to use VPN?

So, let’s go into some more technical bits. It’s not as scary as you may think. It’s usually fast and straight forward.

Choose your VPN provider

First, you need to choose the VPN company. There are quite a few on the market at the moment. I recommend Nord VPN, which has good prices and is reliable. I used it when travelling in Iran and it was really great.

Buy your plan

VPN providers usually have a few options to choose from. You either pay monthly, or annually. Different plans offer different options, depending on what you’re looking for.
In most cases, you can also cancel your subscription whenever you want.

Download the app for your computer

After you pay, you’ll have the option to download the app for your computer and your phone. If you need both devices, you’ll have to do it on both of them.
The instructions are always very easy, just follow them step by step.

Connect to your chosen VPN

When you are ready, open the app and choose to connect to the VPN. There will be different countries to choose from.
If you are in Portugal and want to watch BBC, connect to the VPN from the UK.
If you are in Thailand and want to watch something from Poland, choose the VPN from Poland.

After you connect, you will be able to watch whatever you want.

Be careful

Using VPN is great, but be careful when using it. For example, some social media sites might not like the fact that you change countries all the time and block your accounts.
It almost happened to me with my YouTube channel. I’d advise using VPN when you need to and avoid changing the VPN connections to different countries often.

Using VPN when you travel is easy and really helpful, especially if you want to keep yourself safe online, or access sites that are blocked.
I’d recommend having VPN at all times and have the app at hand.