VPN: What is it for? Why have one when you travel? Which one to choose?
The VPN is an indispensable tool for the connected traveler.
Find out what it is, what it’s for and which one to choose.
A VPN: what is it?
Without going into technical details, a VPN (for Virtual Private Network) is a protocol that allows you to create an encrypted and secure tunnel between your connection and the website you are visiting.
If you are in Italy and you visit a website, the website can see your IP address and know that you are in Italy.
If you use a VPN, you can use a relay server in France. The website you are visiting will only have the IP address of the relay server and it will believe that you are connecting from France.
A VPN: what is it used for when you travel?
When you travel, the VPN can have several uses.
Use #1: Avoid geographic restrictions
You have probably noticed that if you connect from a foreign country, a certain number of contents will be forbidden to you.
This is very much the case for video content, which is subject to different rights depending on the country.
Thus, impossible for Anh to watch the replay of Love is in the meadow outside of France or to watch the latest Japanese series on Netflix outside of Japan.
By using a VPN, you can use a relay server in France, Japan or elsewhere and act as if you were connecting from the country of your choice.
Use n°2 : Avoid censorship
In many countries, sites or applications are censored.
This is the case in China where many services (Google, Facebook, Twitter, …) are blocked.
In Turkey for example, Wikipedia is completely blocked.
And there are many examples all over the world.
Thanks to VPN, you can avoid this censorship by simulating a connection from another country.
Use #3: Consult the sites that do not work
In some cases, some sites aren’t accessible, without this being a question of censorship
Internet networks are complex and some routes can be “broken”.
When we were in Asia, it was not uncommon for our own blog to be inaccessible even though it had no problems.
Going through a French VPN where our blog is hosted, no problem.
Use n°4 : Security / Confidentiality
As soon as other people know the password of a wifi network (which is the case of all the wifis we use when we travel, whether in a restaurant, a café, a hotel, an Airbnb, …), the connection is very insecure.
You must therefore consider that a malicious person can spy on you. At the very least, it is very easy to know the sites you are consulting. At worst, it is possible to recover sensitive data such as your passwords, credit card numbers, …
The use of a VPN will protect you by encrypting your connection and protect your data (this is also the case of a wifi pocket).
In addition, it will be impossible to know which sites you are visiting. You can therefore surf anonymously, only the address of the relay server you are using will be visible.
Which VPN to choose?
There are free VPNs that I do not recommend. They are often very slow and there is very little guarantee of confidentiality.
Since all your personal information will pass through the VPN, it is better to spend a few euros per month to have a trusted service.
The “geek” solution
If you’re a bit of a geek, you can create your own VPN.
This solution has a great advantage: you control the relay server and therefore have a perfect command of confidentiality. You will also be the only one to use the server and therefore have a very good speed.
On the other hand, it is quite technical and not accessible to everyone. Moreover, if you want to simulate a connection from several countries, you will have to rent a server in each of these countries.
If you want to use the geek solution, you can rent a VPS at OVH (€3.59 per month).
Then install OpenVPN on the server following Korben’s tutorial.
Once done, all you have to do is install OpenVPN on your computer and smartphone.
The NordVPN solution
Test NordVpn by clicking here. You will be able to request a refund within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied.
NordVPN is a commercial VPN service.
The advantage is that it is extremely easy to use. Once you have registered you just need to download NordVPN (available on computer and smartphone), log in and choose the country of the relay server you want (62 countries are available).
You can use a NordVPN subscription for up to 6 different devices at the same time.
Rates are very affordable if you commit to a 3-year term: $107.55, or $2.99 per month.
If you wish to test for one month only, it will cost you $11.95.
You can test it and get a refund within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied by clicking here.