When you’re traveling abroad, be it for work or pleasure, you’re likely to long for a taste of home now and then. Whether it’s just to keep up with the latest episodes of your favorite series, or a need to access your bank accounts or other financial services, you’ll need to connect to resources back in your home country.
Unfortunately, your entertainment options can be limited due to the geographically-related blocks streaming services put on their content. Plus, many financial websites also place geo-blocks on logins from outside of the country they operate in, due to security concerns.
However, there is a way for international travelers to access content in their home country that might normally be blocked to them.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can temporarily assign your device a new IP address, making it appear as if you are back inside your homeland’s borders.
IP addresses are how devices are identified on a network. In addition to identifying a device on a network, an IP address can also be used to get a fix on a device’s geographic location. This is how content providers and other online services determine if a device should be allowed access to their content.
Once a VPN has assigned your device a new IP address located inside the borders of your home country, you’ll once again have access to your favorite content.
If you’re visiting a country ruled by a particularly restrictive government, such as China, the UAE, and others, a VPN comes in handy due to its ability to encrypt a user’s internet connection, preventing the government from monitoring and restricting your online travels.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the 5 best VPNs for use while traveling abroad. These VPNs offer optimal access to content while you’re traveling internationally.
How to Access Content Back Home by Using a VPN
It’s easy to use a VPN to access content back in your home country. Simply do the following:
- Subscribe to a reliable VPN provider. (ExpressVPN is my #1 choice.)
- Install the provider’s app(s) on your favorite device(s).
- Run the app and log into the VPN service.
- Select a VPN server located in your home country.
- Connect to your favorite websites and services!
HELPFUL TIP: If you’re planning on visiting a country where internet freedoms are severely restricted, download and install your VPN onto your devices before visiting the new country.
While VPNs will work in most countries, some restrictive governments will block access to a VPN provider’s website as part of an effort to prevent citizens from subscribing to and using a VPN service.
Best VPNs for International Travelers
After in-depth testing of my top VPN providers, I’ve ranked the top 5 providers that offer the most reliable VPN service while traveling abroad. The TL;DR version of this article is as follows:
- ExpressVPN: This provider has proven to be the most reliable way to keep the lines open to content back home while traveling abroad. ExpressVPN offers reliable, fast connections, with proven unblocking ability for content that is normally not accessible from your current location.
- NordVPN: Travelers who would rather spend money on souvenirs and excursions will find NordVPN to be an attractive option. The provider delivers reliable, blockade-busting connections without breaking the bank.
- CyberGhost: This provider is an excellent option for first-time VPN users, or for users who don’t want to deal with a large number of advanced options and other bells and whistles in their VPN apps. The provider delivers excellent VPN service at a low price, brought to you in a simple package.
- IPVanish: This VPN offers a layer of additional privacy protection not available from other providers on this list. Its global network of proprietary VPN servers ensures no third-party contractors will ever have access to your private information.
- PrivateVPN: While this provider isn’t as well known as the other VPN services on this list, it has quickly gained a reputation for delivering excellent unblocking power, as well as fast connections and highly-customizable apps.
When ranking the top 5 VPNs for use while traveling abroad, I considered the following factors:
- Global server network includes servers around the globe
- Works to unblock content from other countries
- Fast, reliable connections
- Excellent security and privacy protections
- Comprehensive multi-platform support
- Top-notch customer support
Here is my list of the 5 best VPNs for world travelers.
ExpressVPN offers international travelers the best way of keeping in touch with their favorite content back home. The provider’s connections deliver reliable access to content around the globe while offering top-notch security and privacy protection.
The service’s global server network includes over 3,000 servers, based in 94 countries around the world. That means that no matter where your base of origin is, ExpressVPN likely has it covered, providing reliable access to websites and services from your home country.
ExpressVPN’s download speeds are some of the fastest in the industry, and definitely the fastest in this lineup. Their fast connections can easily handle video and music streaming, online gaming and sharing of large files.
The provider’s fast connections are protected by banking-grade encryption, as well as an efficient kill switch option, and IPv6 and DNS leak prevention.
Privacy is also not an issue thanks to the provider’s total no-logs policy. Customers can use a disposable email address with the provider’s Bitcoin payment option to keep their subscription information totally incognito.
Native apps are available for Android, Amazon Fire, Chromebook, Linux, macOS and Windows devices. Chrome and Firefox extensions are available to protect your browsing sessions.
If you need protection for devices not listed above, or if you require more than 5 simultaneous connections, comprehensive router features are available.
The provider offers 24/7 live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library.
- Offers reliable access to services and websites around the globe
- Excellent global server coverage
- Fastest download speeds on this list
- Excellent privacy and security protections
- Comprehensive multi-platform app support
- More expensive than many VPN competitors
BEST VPN FOR TRAVELING ABROAD:ExpressVPN is my #1 choice for use by international travelers. The provider’s fast, well-protected connections deliver reliable access to online content and services around the globe. A 30-day money-back guarantee makes it a risk-free proposition.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
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NordVPN delivers excellent VPN protection while offering it at a low price. The provider’s excellent list of services belies its bargain pricing.
The provider currently has over 5,100 servers stationed in 59 countries around the globe, providing access to content and services in most major countries around the world.
While NordVPN’s connection speeds are the slowest on this list, its speeds should certainly not be considered slow. The service provides plenty of horsepower for online gaming, video streaming and more.
Government-tier encryption protects your connections to NordVPN’s servers. In addition, the provider offers kill switch protection, malware and ad blocking, as well as DNS leak and IPv6 leak prevention.
Privacy is also well-protected thanks to the provider’s no-logs policy and its acceptance of cryptocurrency.
Native app support is also well-covered thanks to apps for the Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available.
Other devices can be protected thanks to NordVPN’s excellent router support. Up to 6 concurrent connections are allowed.
24/7 customer support chat, email support, and a searchable knowledgebase are always available.
- Servers in 59 countries around the globe
- Comprehensive customer support
- Complete privacy and security protection
- Budget pricing
- Slowest connections in the top 5
BEST BARGAIN TRAVEL VPN OPTION:NordVPN is the best VPN option for travelers on a budget. The provider offers reliable access to content around the world, offering excellent online protection at a low price. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
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Travelers who are looking for optimal online protection without dealing with a lot of switches and options, or who are first-time VPN users, are strongly advised to take a close look at CyberGhost.
The CyberGhost global server network is made up of over 5,900 servers, which are well distributed among 90 countries. The provider’s wide-ranging global server coverage delivers access to content around the globe. Plus, the provider offers servers that are streaming-optimized and designed to facilitate file sharing.
CyberGhost’s connections provide plenty of speed, with more than enough bandwidth for downloading and sharing large files, streaming HD video and conducting any other online pastimes you can think of.
Online activities are kept well undercover thanks to the provider’s military-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and IPv6 and DNS leak protection. Plus, the service’s no-server-logs policy and Bitcoin payment acceptance mean your privacy is also well protected.
CyberGhost not only covers the globe well, but they also do a good job of covering most available device platforms. The provider’s apps include offerings for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV, and Amazon Fire devices. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
If the provider’s 7 concurrent connection allowance isn’t sufficient, or if you need to protect other device platforms, take advantage of the provider’s compatibility with numerous router makes and models.
Always-available live support chat, email support, a searchable support knowledge base, and a support request and tracking system are available.
- 5,900+ servers in 90 countries
- Fast download speeds
- Easy-to-use apps
- Reasonably priced
- Apps miss advanced options available from other providers
BEST FOR NEW VPN USERS:CyberGhost is the best option for international travelers who are new to the VPN game. The provider’s apps offer comprehensive protection and access to blocked content, with no need for overly-complicated settings and options. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
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IPVanish makes it into this lineup thanks to fast connection speeds, excellent online protection and the extra level of privacy protections it offers to its users.
1,300+ VPN servers in 60 countries around the world are somewhat less than what the other providers on this list offer, but it still adds up to some impressive access to most spots around the globe. Plus, those servers are all owned and operated by IPVanish, keeping outside contractors away from your personal info.
IPVanish’s download speeds are easily up to handling all of your favorite online antics, including sharing large files, viewing and listening to streaming content, gaming, or doing anything else you can think of.
Connection protection from IPVanish includes government-level encryption, as well as kill switch protection, auto-reconnect in case of disconnection, and a “scramble” option that can disguise your VPN traffic as normal browsing activity.
Privacy protection includes no server logs ever saved on those self-owned and -operated servers. However, the provider doesn’t offer a cryptocurrency payment option.
Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chromebook and Amazon Fire devices are well-protected thanks to the provider’s selection of native apps. The service can also be set up on Linux and Windows Phone devices. No browser extensions are available.
You can connect up to 10 devices to the service simultaneously. If you need more connections than 10 at a time, or you require protection for other devices, you can make use of IPVanish’s router protection features.
Customer support is always available thanks to 24/7 support chat, email support, and a searchable support database.
- Excellent protection, online and off
- Self-owned and -operated global server network
- Up to 10 concurrent connections
- A short, 7-day money-back guarantee period
- Short-term subscription options are costly
BEST OPTION FOR MULTIPLE USERS:IPVanish is the best option in this lineup for users who require a large number of simultaneous connections, such as small business owners or heads of large families. The provider delivers excellent protection for up to 10 users at once. While the provider offers a money-back guarantee, it’s limited to 7 days.
Read my full review of IPVanish.
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PrivateVPN is the “youngest” provider on this list, but it has quickly gained a reputation for fast download speeds and optimal privacy and security protections.
I’ll be the first to admit that 150+ servers spread among 60 countries doesn’t exactly equal the definition of “optimal global server coverage.” However, the servers are well positioned around the globe, and the servers do a good job of unblocking content in the countries they are located in.
No matter if you enjoy streaming HD and 4K content, sharing large files or battling it out in online arenas, PrivateVPN’s connection speeds can easily handle it.
The provider’s military-level encryption protects your online activities from prying eyes, while its DNS leak and IPv6 leak protection and proprietary “Stealth VPN” feature prevent information about your activities from leaking.
A no-logs policy, as well as a Bitcoin payment option, keep your info undercover.
PrivateVPN’s native app support is a bit limited, but it covers the big 4 device platforms – Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. No browser extension support is available.
If you need to protect other devices or need to protect more than 6 devices at once, you can make use of the provider’s compatibility with various routers.
While this provider claims 24/7 support chat is available, it has proven to be a hit-or-miss proposition. Who knows, maybe I’m just hitting them during a department-wide restroom break? A support request form is readily available when chat isn’t, and a non-searchable FAQ is always around.
- Reliable, if somewhat limited, access to content around the globe
- Fast download speeds
- 6 simultaneous connections allowance
- Low server numbers
- App support for only the big 4 platforms
STEALTHY ONLINE SECURITY:PrivateVPN reliably unblocks content around the globe, despite its somewhat limited coverage. The provider’s “stealth” mode hides your VPN activity, making it appear to be normal browsing traffic. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
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Can I Use a Free VPN While Traveling Abroad?
I won’t say that you might not be able to find a free VPN service you can use while traveling abroad. Crazier things have happened.
However, I will say that I don’t believe you’ll be happy with the free service’s performance, and I know for certain, a free provider won’t provide sufficient protection, especially in restrictive countries.
Free VPNs are inconvenient to use. You’ll find that some providers will force their free users to sit in a queue before they are allowed to connect to a server.
Once you’re allowed to connect, you’ll find you have a limited number of servers to choose from. (That is if you’re allowed to choose.) That server might not be located in your home country.
If you are lucky enough to connect to a server back home, you’re then faced with slow connections. Many freebie VPNs will throttle their users’ connections and restrict their usage with a daily or monthly data cap.
Now for privacy and online security. Many “free” VPN providers pay their bills by logging their users’ online travels, then selling that information to the highest bidder.
Other no-charge VPNs will inject unwanted ads and tracking cookies into users’ browsing sessions. Oh, and those tracking cookies stick around, even after you’ve disconnected from the VPN servers.
If you’re still mulling over trying a free VPN while traveling abroad, then you’re more of a daredevil than I am. Personally, I’m willing to pay a few bucks per month to have access to a VPN service that actually protects and enhances my online activities. But that’s just me.
What Else Can I Do With A VPN?
In addition to protecting and enhancing your online activities while traveling abroad, a VPN also offers a number of other helpful features.
A VPN not only provides access to websites and services back home, it can also provide access to streaming services in multiple regions of the world, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, 9Now, Disney+, Hulu and others. It also provides access to gaming servers, websites and other services around the world.
Many ISPs have been known to throttle their customers’ connection speeds or completely block their access if they find you’re engaging in “unapproved” activities, such as streaming from certain services or engaging in P2P file sharing. A VPN can hide those activities, preventing your ISP from affecting your online fun.
A VPN is also an excellent tool for protecting you when you’re using an unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspot in your favorite coffee shop, hotel or what seems to be every other public location you can name.
Hackers love public hotspots, since they’re unprotected, leaving every users’ online activities open to observation. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, preventing observation and theft of valuable personal data.
World travelers will appreciate the ability of a Virtual Private Network to provide access to your favorite online resources back home, while also protecting your online activities from being observed, affected or blocked.
ExpressVPN delivers fast download speeds, well protected by the provider’s top-notch security precautions. The service provides reliable access to blocked content back home, as well as content from around the world.
ExpressVPN offers an excellent level of protection for your online activities while protecting your privacy, both online and off.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.