Do I need a VPN when Travelling?

Suitcase with famous travel landmarks

There is nothing that can quite compare to the feeling of seeing new places, learning new cultures and customs, and simply exploring regions that you know nothing about.

Travel! It can be one of the best experiences in life. But do you need a VPN for travelling?

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there and in this article, we’ll be giving you all the answers you need so you can make a decision based on your travel plans.

Travelling has exploded in the last several decades, and there is pretty much no area of the world that as an enthusiastic traveller you can’t visit – be it for pleasure or work.

However, while travelling is highly enjoyable, using a VPN when visiting foreign countries is advised.

If you are confused about whether or not you need one, allow us to point out some of the reasons why it might be a good idea.

Do I need a VPN when travelling?

Of course, the answer to that depends mostly on you, your plans, activities, and habits when travelling.

For example, if you like to go travelling without relying on technology, and you won’t bring your phone, laptop, tablet (although that’s highly unlikely), then sure — you don’t need a VPN.

But, if you are not going hardcore (that’s the 99.9% of the rest of us), and you like to check in to your Facebook, send emails from time to time, or keep connected to the world – then having a VPN is crucial.

Location icon with plane

Here are some of the reasons why.

1) Security when travelling

When you travel around, you need to get an internet connection in any way possible.

Most of the time, your choices will be quite limited, and you will have to use public Wi-Fi, offered by parks, cafes, hotels, hostels, etc.

These can be dangerous, as you never know who else is using them. It is all too easy to have a hacker on the other side of the connection, who is just waiting for a new victim. Or a sketchy Wi-Fi hotspot that’s a honey trap slurping up all your juicy details.

WiFi logo with coffee cup

It is safer to buy a local SIM card and use mobile internet, but that can be expensive – in Japan, for example, you’re looking at £25 / $30 for seven days and sometimes it’s not possible at all.

A VPN can protect you even on the dirtiest of public Wi-Fi hotspots, and your devices will be safe from intrusion. At under £5 / $10 per month, they’re massively cost-effective.

2. Watching content from home

Even when you travel, it is impossible to be active 24/7. Whether due to a rainy day or if you need a bit of a break – there will be days when all you wish to do is relax for a while.

In these situations, you might decide to turn to your favourite Netflix shows or watch something from BBC iPlayer while abroad.

Silhouette of person watching TV in a chair

In a lot of places around the world, these services will either be blocked entirely or severely limited.

You will need a VPN to access them and enjoy the content you want to watch, as a VPN such as ExpressVPN can unblock anything, provided that you have a good one.

3. Avoid censorship

Of course, geo-restrictions are not the only issue you will face, and censorship is just as strong in many regions around the world. Different countries block different content, and it is you, the user, who ends up suffering.

Content blocked stamp

For example, you need a VPN for China otherwise you won’t be able to access western social media, news, or anything like that. You can forget about accessing pornographic content in countries like Thailand.

Plus there’s a whole host of other content that is blocked in various countries around the world. In these cases, a VPN is essential to access a free and open internet as you will know from your own country.

What to look for in a VPN for travel?

As always, it mostly depends on what your needs are. You require a VPN that will work on a device that you plan to use.

For example, if you plan on taking your phone only, make sure they have an app for either Android or Apple iOS. If you need to protect your laptop, then you’ll need a Windows or Mac app.

Next, you need a VPN that has servers in countries whose content you wish to unblock.

For example, if you plan to go to Asia, and you wish to watch BBC iPlayer – you need a VPN that has servers in the UK AND one that works with the UK’s streaming services.

You’ll also need a local server to keep you secure online or bypass restrictions.

Travelling to Thailand, for example? Look for VPN services with servers in Singapore or Hong Kong.

The United States? Then Canadian servers might come in use.

What is the best VPN for travel?

As mentioned, VPNs are many, and the choices are growing almost daily.

We have mentioned already some of the features you should pay attention to when choosing a VPN, as the choice is mostly down to your usage.

But, even so, a universal option would be to use ExpressVPN, which is fast, low-priced, it has excellent security, servers in 160 locations, significant discounts on yearly plans, and more.

Suitcase with travel stickers

Alternatively, you can also go for NordVPN, which allows you to protect up to 6 devices and it offers 5,200 servers across the world covering you wherever you venture to.

Finally, there is IPVanish, which features a 7-day money-back guarantee, as well as just as extensive network as the others. Any of these three can help you out, but you are free to choose whichever you wish.


When you travel, you leave yourself vulnerable to censorship, online hacking attacks, geo-restrictions, and more.

This can lead to all kinds of problems, so it is better to prevent such issues in advance by using a reliable VPN service.

ExpressVPN is our recommended choice but there are others. Check out our VPN comparison guide if you wish to compare more.

There are hundreds of choices out there. Remember to select one that answers the needs of your travelling habits.

The choice is yours, as always. Only remember to remain safe during your travels, enjoy visiting every new place and don’t stress too much about using a VPN or not.


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Illustrations © Shaperstock, Chatchai5172, Chris Dorney & Alex Kalmbach |

Author: Ali Raza

Ali is a journalist with a keen interest in VPN usage. He is an expert in the field and has been covering VPN related topics for VPNCompare and numerous well-respected publications for many years.

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