VPN BEGINNER’S GUIDE | WHY YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED A VPN

Kathrinnomad basics16 Comments

Beginners Guide Why You Absolutely Need a VPN - wellnessnomads.com

Last update in July 2017 | You don’t have a VPN yet? You absolutely need one! I will tell you why and recommend three good ones in this VPN beginners guide.

Welcome to Nomad Basics, where I look at essential and smart tools for your life as a digital nomad and adventurer. My first tool: VPN (Virtual Private Network).

In case you already know about the topic and why you need a VPN, just skip the next paragraphs and find my recommendations in the end of the article.

What is a VPN and why do you need one?

Quite often I talk to fellow nomads and soon-to-be-nomads and find out that they risk pretty much trouble.

While you are traveling and connect your laptop or smartphone to a public WiFi in a café, a coworking space or a hotel, any other person connected to the same public WiFi you are connected to can spy on your internet traffic. They can easily read emails you send and receive, see the pages you are on and steal other private information.

Using an insecure internet connection without a VPN puts you at risk of fraud and identity theft.

A VPN is necessary for you as a digital nomad, because you rely on the internet for your income, so a security hole can be catastrophic. Especially, when you’re traveling, a VPN can save you from dealing with a security hole when abroad and not able to manage properly the consequences of identity theft.

When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted between your computer and your VPN provider. This makes sure that your internet connection is secured from anyone spying on the same WiFi you are connected to.

In other words, when you use the internet, it’s like you are sending postcards. People on the postcards’ way can read them. Using a VPN is like sending the postcards in a locked metal box.

How to choose the best VPN

There are hundreds of VPN providers. A few are good, many are not. When looking for a VPN provider it is important to consider the following:

Price

Any good VPN service costs money. Using a free VPN will surely lead to trouble. A VPN provider could potentially see ALL of your internet traffic when you are connected to the VPN. It is therefore very important that you choose a reputable and reliable VPN provider that you can trust with your private information. A VPN is a great security tool to use on a daily basis, and I absolutely recommend you invest in a good VPN service – and not just use a free version.

Server locations

A good VPN service should have servers all over the world that you can connect to. When you connect to a VPN server, your IP address is the IP address of the VPN server. This allows you to unblock location restricted content while traveling. For example, if you are traveling in China and want to use a German-only streaming website, you can connect to a German server on your VPN and watch the videos like if you were in Germany.

VPN clients

Make sure the VPN provider offers a VPN client (program/app) for your operating system (Android/iOS/Windows/MacOS/Linux). VPNs are essential to use both on computers and mobile devices.

Number of simultaneous devices allowed

You should look for a VPN provider that allows multiple simultaneous connections from your account so that you can use your VPN service at the same time from your computer, phone and tablet. Most good VPN providers allow using several devices at the same time from your account.

Let’s go on with a summary:

Beginners Guide Why You Absolutely Need a VPN - wellnessnomads.com

Hotel, Café or Coworking space – don’t use a WiFi connection without a strong VPN

Summary

A VPN is a must-have for everyone of us that travels often. Choosing a VPN can be overwhelming, VPNs are a complex topic and there are many more details for advanced users to look at.

However, using a VPN is very simple. You install the VPN app, you put your username and password, select a few settings (e.g. country) and click connect. That’s it. From then on, your internet traffic secure.

I have selected three popular, high-quality and affordable VPN providers that will serve most people well. They are excellent for first-time VPN users as they have simple to follow tutorials and fast, helpful customer support.

These are the three VPN providers I recommend:

VPN.AC

+ from 4,8 USD per month
+ server locations all over the world
+ VPN clients for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS
+ 6 simultaneous devices allowed
+ dedicated servers for China users, which work great if you are traveling to China
+ 7 days money back guarantee
+ find more details here

Private Internet Access

+ from 3,33 USD per month
+ server locations all over the world
+ VPN clients for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS
+ 5 simultaneous devices allowed
+ 7 days money back guarantee
+ find more details here

ExpressVPN

+ from 8,32 USD per month
+ server locations all over the world
+ VPN clients for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS
+ 3 simultaneous devices allowed
+ 30 days money back guarantee
+ find more details here

All three VPNs described here are really good and I have heard great feedback from people who use them.

I personally use VPN.AC and have been very satisfied with their service in the past 3+ years that I have been using it.

Do you have questions? Don’t hesitate and contact me!

Take care, Kathrin

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase using one of the links in this article, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Using affiliate links helps me support the blog and create more content for you.

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Beginners Guide Why You Absolutely Need a VPN - wellnessnomads.com

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16 Comments on “VPN BEGINNER’S GUIDE | WHY YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED A VPN”

  1. Dear Kathrin,

    thank you for this post and for showing the importance of a VPN.
    i think, everybody should think about his/her own safety, but also to secure sensitive private data. the hint of the “simultaneous devices” is also very good 🙂

    1. Hi Verena,
      I’m glad to hear that you find value in this post. The topic is indeed very important.
      More and more people work online but there are many risks and dangers involved. I want to
      enlighten and help people to avoid trouble which only causes stress. In the future I will
      provide more topics like this 🙂

  2. Hi Kathrin, thanks for raising the awareness for internet security while traveling. I am interested in this VPN concept although I am not quite sure what difference it makes to the my current approach. I am not an expert on this topic and your reply will be appreciated. In general I agree that sending unencrypted information via internet is like sending postcards – theoretically -since you still need some technical skills and criminal intention to spy someone else´s internet traffic. So the best way the best way to send sensitive information is utilizing strong end-to-end encryption from your computer to the intended recipient. As far as I know a adequate https-connection will do this for you. Nowadays most critical websites offer this option (google) or use it by default (online banking). So all “listeners” are unable to read your information (package) however they can see where it goes (metadata). VPN could potentially cover unencrypted (http) connections to some extend – and this leads to my next question.
    With the VPN service you cover the Information transport from you computers location (let´s say hotel) to the VPN provider. So if you choose a trustworthy provider as you described above you are save for the part from your hotel to the VPN provider. But what about the last part from the VPN provider to the server of the recipient?

    1. Hi Jules,

      strong end-to-end encryption protects the information being sent over the end-to-end encrypted communication channel (as long as the end-to-end encryption is properly implemented). If you are only using websites over https, and not sending or receiving any other unencrypted data in the background, you should be OK without a VPN even though, as you mention, you expose your metadata to others on the same public WiFi.

      A VPN, like you say, will encrypt the connection from your computer to the VPN server, and not from the VPN server to the website server. Your information could be stolen on its way from the VPN server to the website server, although those datacenter-to-datacenter connections tend to be far more secure than from your computer to the VPN server (for example via public WiFi).

      Whether this is good enough for you depends on your threat model (Who are you protecting yourself from? What tools do those you are protecting yourself from have?). If your threat model includes governments (for example, you are a journalist or an activist) you should not assume secure datacenter-to-datacenter connections. For most digital nomads, who don’t include governments in their threat model, the biggest threat is at the public WiFi level. That is where their private information will likely be stolen (by packet sniffing) or where they will get hacked (by a man-in-the-middle attack or by malware injection, for example).

      In general, a VPN will hugely increase your security and is far better than relying solely on https connections. The VPN will provide an extra layer of strong security should the https not be implemented properly. It will encrypt any data that is being transmitted unencrypted without your awareness in the background. It will also stop malware injection or man-in-the-middle attacks when on your public WiFi.

      Using only a handful of https websites is not an option for many digital nomads, as many websites use unencrypted http (surprisingly often even for username/password login forms), and digital nomads rely on many online services to get their work done.

      To summarize, no security solution is good for everyone. If you come to the conclusion that you don’t need a VPN, then it is also a valid choice. A VPN is one of many security best practices. The biggest security boost will be for those digital nomads who are not experts in technology, and for who a VPN is a massive step forward in security.

  3. Was having this discussion with someone the other week and was amazed to find the number of people who had no idea what a VPN even was! This is a really valuable post – a VPN is an absolute essential for travelers!!

    1. Hi Linda,
      cool that you’re aware of the importance of a VPN. I also talk to a lot of people who never heard of it and they risk really much trouble when they travel. Thank you for confirming my thoughts!

    1. Hi Ryan,
      I’m glad I was able to inform you on something important. Whenever you have a question regarding the topic, please contact me 🙂

  4. I swear, the list of “things a digital nomad needs” grows every day! But this is definitely valid, thanks for the info 🙂
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    1. Hi Halie,
      you’re right, Digital Nomads are getting more and more professional and the list of things they need grows constantly. Though the VPN should be a stable “tool” which will not lose importance – it’s getting even more important with all the internet risks we have to face. I’m happy you like my article!

  5. To be honest, I’ve heard of VPNs, but I never really knew what they were. As I read your post, I began to realize the significance of them, especially since I do travel a bit. I also appreciate you simplifying the information for people like me who don’t necessarily understand the fancy jargon. So thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Larissa,
      that was my goal. To make the topic more easy to understand for people who are not dealing with these kind of topics each day. Thank you for reading my article. I’m glad it helped you to learn something new!

  6. This is the article I didn’t know I needed omg. Thank you for sharing about VPN. I love blogging and hanging out in different places so this is a must.

    1. Hi Relyn,
      oh yes, it is a must when you work in different public places if you want to protect your data. I’m glad that I brought awareness to you. Stay safe and ask me about VPNs whenever you have a question 🙂

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