The Five Most Common Reasons Why People Use VPNs at Airports
1. Accessing sites that may be blocked in certain countries
I know when I am traveling I love to kill time by getting lost in some story to help pass the time. This may take form in finding something to watch on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. This may also manifest in the form of aimlessly browsing Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. This is all great when done from home, through a connection that you know will allow you to visit your favorite sites. However, when traveling you may hit a wall. Not all countries have the same readily available content that you home country may offer. Some countries block the content that is able to be viewed. Similarly, some sites do not prohibit their content to be viewed in various countries.
As mentioned above, you may find that when traveling you might encounter some countries that restrict the content that you are accustomed to viewing from the comfort of your home IP address. Every time you send a request to a site to access their information, they confirm your IP address and then send the requested information back to you. If you are traveling and happen to be in a country where content is less readily available then you might be encountering what is known as geoblocking. Where your location is obtained and based on what information is retrieved will either prohibit or grant your access to the sites you are attempting to view.
The easiest way to circumvent any geoblocking restrictions you may encounter is to access the sites through a VPN. By using a VPN you will be able to control what IP address is used for site permissions. If you know that a site is able to be accessed VIA a UK IP address then try running a VPN whose IP address is run out of the UK. By finding a VPN with an IP address from a country that is known to work with your favorite sites you can relax and view your content at ease.
2. Assuring a secure internet connection
When browsing the internet on any public WiFi connection security is of the utmost importance. However, a place as public as an airport may be a hotspot for potential identity theft. One way to avoid this is to encrypt and secure your data from the start, by using a VPN. Anyone on a shared network is susceptible to having their information grabbed from another user on the same network. What a VPN allows you to do is to create your own private network, assuring you that your information is traveling through secure tunnels and cannot be intercepted by those with malicious intent.
This tunneling process guarantees that your information is only seen by you and the intended recipient. Tunneling creates a secure pathway for your information to travel on much like you would find on your own private home internet connection. This tunneling process, when partnered with encryption, is a sure way to grant you the ease of mind when traveling that your information will not be intercepted or altered without your knowing.
3. Accessing banking sites that may be frozen
Some bank accounts may be hypersensitive to activity occurring outside of your home country. If you are a customer that typically accesses your online banking information through a US IP address and then attempt to access the same information when traveling, the foreign IP address may be flagged as potential fraud. Although this security is appreciated it may throw a wrench into your travel itinerary if your account is frozen.
One way to bypass this is to access your account through a VPN that is hosted through the same country that your bank is accustomed to seeing from your account. This is a sure way to save you some trouble while traveling, is to use a VPN and avoid your account being frozen in the first place.
4. Staying anonymous when searching for airfare, hotels, or rental cars
When browsing the internet, your activity is logged via cookies, small text files that are associated with your account and stored within your browser. Although this helps personalize ads and recommendations from the web it may also cost you money in the long run.
How a cookie works is by generating a text file that contains information from the site you are visiting and a unique identifier that is linked to you.
Some types of cookies you may run into are:
- Session Cookies: Allows your activity within a single session to be recognized and tracked. This information is not stored past the single visit to the site. This is intended to store your browsing information from page to page within the website. Session cookies are common on ecommerce sites saving your items in your shopping cart while you still browse from page to page on the site. Once the visit to the site is terminated your viewing patterns are not stored.
- Persistent Cookies: Allows your activity to be stored and recognized beyond the single visit. Persistent cookies allow a site to recognize you as a returning visitor. This information is stored and remembered each time you visit the same site. Intended to personalize your visits and store your unique preferences.
- Third-Party Cookies: Allows third party to access your viewing habits. Third-party cookies are generally utilized by advertisers in an attempt to target their advertisements to the individual viewers.
- Supercookie: Allows your browsing habits and history across several different sites to be stored and monitored.
Some sites will use this information to recognize you as a returning visitor to the site. Although this isn’t inherently bad, when shopping around for airfare, hotels, or rental cars it may end with you paying more than if you had stayed anonymous.
5. Accessing tools like Google Voice
Google Voice is a great tool to use to stay in touch. Google Voice allows you to receive a US-based phone number that you will be able to use to place phone calls, recieve texts, receive voicemails, and forward calls. That is, if you are accessing it through a US based IP address. When you are traveling if you are accustomed to placing calls through your google voice number you may find that it is not working while abroad.
This can be fixed by finding a VPN that is routed through the US and will enable the same access that you are accustomed to. By downloading a VPN to ensure that you have a working phone number while traveling will guarantee that you are able to keep in contact with anyone you wish. It is particularly useful when accessing taxi apps such as Lyft or Uber.
By using Google Voice from your VPN you are able to access the applications that have been restricted if you did not have access to a phone number.