Countless professions require frequent travel — among them journalists, photographers, travel industry professionals, diplomats, recruiters, sales reps and consultants — a role that is practically synonymous with travel. If you’re a seasoned traveling professional, it’s likely you already have a checklist of your must-have items, apps and tools for your foreign work assignments including your go-to luggage scale, adaptor, battery pack, navigator, and personal luxuries from home.
One thing you absolutely should add to your list if you haven’t already is a VPN to allow you to connect to remote, secure servers around the world and browse the internet with a private and protected connection. Why is it so essential you might ask? Here are 6 reasons, just to name a few.
1. Unblocking VoIP Calling Apps
Did you know that many VoIP calling apps like Skype, Whatsapp and Viber are currently blocked in numerous countries including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bangladesh and more? Brazil, for example, in an effort to protect the interest of local telecom companies, blocks Skype and recently took a lot of heat when trying to enforce 48-hour ban on Whatsapp.
It’s likely, however, that as a professional you consistently rely upon these apps to communicate with certain colleagues and clients, and most certainly your friends and family back home.
There’s no reason that your travel to another country should affect your ability to converse via widely popular and useful VoIP calling apps.
A VPN allows you to bypass this censorship and access any VoIP app you want. When you connect to a VPN, you’re able to connect to a remote server network abroad and mask your location so you can browse just as if you were in another country of your choice. So for instance, if you’re in the UAE and Skype is blocked, a VPN will enable you to connect to a US server and enjoy VoIP apps as if you were online in the States. Then just talk away to clients, colleagues, family and friends!
2. Protecting Your Online Identity Over Public Wi-Fi
When traveling and working abroad, it’s clearly very important to be able to connect to Wi-Fi regularly and catch up on emails. While public Wi-Fi hotspots at airports, hotels and cafes are of course very convenient, they are actually quite dangerous — both on a professional and personal level. The reason being that these networks are completely unsecured, leaving your personal information vulnerable and increasing your chances of being the one person every 2 seconds that falls victim to identity theft!
Over public Wi-Fi, snoopers and hackers can see what you do on unencrypted sites (these are sites without HTTPS at the beginning of the URL address) as well as which encrypted sites you access. They can also install software on your computer which can capture confidential information like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and even email and search history.
When you connect to a VPN service, however, you not only connect to a remote server abroad, but also direct your traffic through a secured network. This means that you’re able to browse the web with a protected, bank-level encrypted connection and ensure all your personal data, work data and sensitive financial information are safe and sound over any Wi-Fi network.
3. Avoiding Online Price Discrimination on Flights and Rental Cars
Are you aware that you could pay a drastically different price from someone else in another country simply because of your online location? It’s true online price discrimination exists and it can have a very real impact on your finances — especially if you’re a frequent traveler. This occurs online due to your IP address, which is essentially your digital fingerprint online. It reveals unique internet “address” and geographic location on the web. Flight booking and rental car sites recognize your IP address and charge different regional prices accordingly.
Essentially, all you have to do to bypass this is change your IP address. By connecting to the different international servers of a VPN network, you can compare prices from different locations (especially consider changing your IP to a server where the airline is based). After you’ve done your research, then just go ahead and purchase from the most cost-effective geo-location!
If you’re an independent business traveler or small business owner, this feature of a VPN could save you hundreds of dollars — not only on flights and rental cars, but also on software and streaming subscriptions, which are also subject to online price discrimination.
One VPN service that is particularly good in assisting you to virtually travel to another country to pay less for travel is SaferVPN. Their software is very simple and intuitive, so you can quickly launch the one-click app on your Windows, Mac, Android, iOS device to compare prices in different countries. You can also unblock any travel site that may be blocked in your country, and browse the web securely and enjoy online privacy with ease and speed.
4. Unblocking Websites and Social Apps
Due to censorship, certain countries block some of the most popular and widely used websites and social apps around the world including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and more. China, for example, blocks all of these.
Many of these apps are likely a part of your everyday life — they’re incredibly useful in connecting and sharing experiences with others and moreover, may in fact be essential for your profession. As a journalist, photographer or even someone personally marketing your own business, you’ll need to access apps like Twitter, Instagram and/or YouTube to share your latest insights, stories, images or online vlog.
Like how you would unblock VoIP calling apps, with a VPN you can simply connect to an international server of choice and browse the web as if you were in another country. Moreover, the encrypted connection a VPN provides ensures that your activity is completely anonymous, so you need not worry about local governments peeking over your shoulder and tracking your use of a censored site or app. Simply choose the country that has the social apps and websites you’d like to access and publish or promote as you want!
5. Access Your Online Banking and Complete Financial Transactions Without Hassle
Few things are worse than working abroad and being locked out of your bank account. Aside from adding extra providing privacy protection for your online banking activities, using a VPN while banking online can also prevent you from being blocked from your online account.
When you log on to your bank online, like the flight and rental car providers, we discussed previously, they can identify your geo-location via your IP address. If you happen to be logged in from abroad, they may be prompted to ask you a series of security questions. And if you don’t answer these right, you might have a maze of phone calls and operator waiting time to gain access back to your account.
Also note that when credit card companies notice online activity abroad, they may block your account. And if you’ve got a PayPal account beware — PayPal is notorious for these very inconvenient block outs. So if you were too busy packing to notify your credit card company or PayPal in advance (and we don’t blame you), connect to a VPN server from your home country and complete online purchases as if you were surfing the web from there! With a VPN there’s no need to feel stranded nor weary about completing financial transactions online while you’re abroad.
6. Enjoy Your Favorite Streaming Entertainment and Music far from Home
Sometimes the best remedy for for a long day of work abroad is to watch some familiar entertainment and listen to music from home.
Unfortunately it’s likely that when you try this you’ll be met with a message on your screen saying: “This is not currently available in your country.” This is because many popular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and Spotify are generally geo-restricted due to varying licensed rights. The content you can access in one country greatly varies from what you can access in another.
Using a VPN you can easily bypass said geo-restrictions. All you need to do is connect to a server from your home country, or the country that has all the movies, shows and songs you’d like to access and simply sit back, relax and enjoy.
What to Look for in Choosing a VPN Provider
Now that you know the benefits of a VPN, here are some key factors to keep in mind to ensure you choose the right one. Many VPN service providers offer free trials, so keep these points in mind when you’re trying different services out:
Make sure the VPN is simple and easy- to-use so you don’t have to spend time messing with different settings and can just enjoy all the benefits.
- Availability on applications
You’ll want to use your service comfortably on your laptop in a cafe or hotel and on-the- go with your phone, so be sure to test out the service you’re considering on all your devices. Make sure it works well for a variety of situations and locations.
- Server locations
If you want to enjoy content and sites from a variety of places, and of course from back home, check to make sure that the service you’re choosing offers a nice diversity of country server locations.
Be sure the service connection is fast and without disruption. You won’t want to try and surf the web and stream your favorite, music, movies or shows with a service that moves at snail’s pace or consistently drops the connection.
So remember, the next time you prepare for your work travels, add a VPN to your packing list. Bon voyage!
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