The best VPN for travel from Mashable

Travelling requires a lot of planning. You need to be prepared with a checklist of essentials, and then pack everything in such a way that you’re not left with a crumpled mess of belongings on the other side.

Something you don’t need to pack is a VPN, but it should still be at the top of your list. Why? These security services protect your data and personal information when you’re travelling, as well as providing access to top streaming sites from around the world. So whether you’re dreaming of getting away, planning your next big trip, or in the departure lounge, you need a VPN by your side.

What is a VPN?

VPNs provide protection for your data and identity when you’re online by creating an encrypted tunnel for your online traffic. This protects your personal information by hiding your IP address, and allowing you to safely use public WiFi hotspots.

This means that your internet traffic can’t be tracked and recorded by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other third party, wherever you are in the world.

Do you need a VPN for travelling?

A VPN is an essential when you’re travelling for two key reasons: encryption of your web traffic and access to the websites and apps you use when you’re at home.

Any sort of activity on an unsecured WiFi network leaves your private information and browsing habits exposed to the world, unless you’re using a VPN. The likelihood of using an unsecured network is increased when you’re away from home, so the need for a VPN is great.

The need to access content when travelling is also significant. There will be plenty of moments when you need to access a particular site or app when you’re on the road, but you’re blocked due to your location. VPNs can bypass these blockades by hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in the UK. This process can trick your favourite services into thinking that you’re back home, meaning that you can continue to access the content you love.

What are the most important VPN features for travelling?

The best VPNs for travelling will have certain features in common. To help you make sense of everything, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to think about before committing to a service. You should consider connection speed, server network, number of simultaneous connections, and more:

Bandwidth — There are VPNs that place monthly caps on network bandwidth. You should avoid these services, unless you’re on a free trial. If you’re paying for a VPN, you need to be able to download and upload as much as you want.

Connection speed — You shouldn’t accept a significant drop in connection speed with a VPN, because this is going to result in buffering when you’re streaming. If you’re planning on watching a film or downloading a file when travelling, you should opt for something with decent connection speeds.

Encryption — You are likely to come across terms like “military-grade” and “enterprise-grade” encryption. There are clearly different levels of encryption, and whilst it’s important to take note of the grade provided by your VPN, the best options will all offer powerful protection for your data.

Number of simultaneous connections — The best VPNs let you connect a large (or unlimited) number of devices with the same account. A service that offers multiple simultaneous connections lets you protect all of your devices with the same plan.

Privacy policy — You should be aware of the data-handling, storage, and usage practices of a VPN, and these practices should be clearly laid out in a privacy policy. Most VPNs require access to your IP address, online transactions, and browsing history, plus your personal details when you sign up, so it’s absolutely vital that your VPN is not going to store these details.

Server network — The very best VPNs provide access to thousands of geographically diverse servers. It’s useful if a VPN has a lot of servers in key locations, because you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing anonymously when you’re travelling around.

You should also think about things like price and subscription options, but these features represent are a good place to start.

Do you need to pay for the best VPNs?

There are a lot of free versions of top VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. With this in mind, why would you ever pay for a VPN?

The fact is you get what you pay for with VPNs. There are always catches with free versions, and it’s normally in the form of limited data usage. These plans will work fine for some people, but if you’re going to be streaming or downloading on the move, it isn’t going to work. Free trials work differently: they come without limitations, but don’t tend to last very long. Trials give you the opportunity to test out a service before committing, but this isn’t a long-term solution if you’re travelling.

To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you’re willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What is the best VPN for travelling?

There are a lot of VPNs out there all offering different sets of features, with different pricing plans. Finding the best service for you is not easy, so we recommend taking some time to carefully access your options and decide on what you really need from a provider. Once you have established your priorities, you can check out this roundup of the best VPNs for travel.

We have tracked down everything on offer and lined up a selection of the very best VPNs for travelling. We have tried to find something for everyone and every budget, and you can find popular services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost VPN in this roundup.

These are the best VPNs for travelling in 2024.

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