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5 Best VPNs for Traveling Abroad in 2023 

VPN for traveling

Traveling abroad is already stressful because you’re going to a country with a different culture than yours. Plus, in some countries, you might not have access to your favorite streaming shows, websites, or social media platforms.

In addition to this, you’re more likely to browse the internet on unsecured WiFi from hotels, airports, and coffee shops. As a consequence, you might be targeted by hackers that intercept unsecured WiFi traffic. They can steal your data or even hack your devices by performing cyberattacks while connected to public networks. 

However, if you use a good VPN, you’ll get access to your favorite streaming content, sites, and social media platforms. What’s more, the VPN will encrypt your traffic, allowing you to hide your data from malicious actors and the government. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the best features a VPN should have to protect you abroad. Also, we’ll recommend 5 top VPN services and provide a quick, simple guide on how to install a VPN on your device. 

Here are the best 5 VPNs for traveling abroad:
  1. NordVPNbest VPN for international traveling
  2. Surfsharkgood VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections
  3. Atlas VPNA VPN with a good free plan
  4. PrivateVPNbeginner-friendly VPN
  5. ExpressVPNfor very fast speeds

Why Do You Need a VPN for Traveling?

Here are the most common things a VPN can help you with if you’re traveling: 

1. It Encrypts Your Internet Traffic 

Using mobile data is not always possible when you’re traveling abroad. That’s why you’ll have to connect to WiFi networks almost every time — at the airport, at the hotel, in coffee shops and  restaurants. However, public WiFi is very dangerous because it’s often unencrypted, which makes it easy for cybercriminals to intercept your traffic. They might even create fake WiFi networks to redirect you to malicious sites and steal your login credentials. 

However, most VPNs use the same strong encryption as the military and banks — AES 256-bit encryption. That makes your traffic unreadable so that no one can spy on your data. 

2. It Helps You Bypass Internet Censorship

Restrictive countries have a low internet freedom score because they censor a lot of apps and sites. Here are just a few examples of sites and apps you can’t access:

  • In China: Gmail, Google apps, Slack, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Netflix, Wikipedia. 
  • In Vietnam: sites related to religious freedom, Vietnamese-Chinese political relations, and content that include gambling, sex, and drug use. 
  • In India: TikTok, Alibaba, PUBG Mobile, and Shein. 
  • In Russia: LinkedIn, BBC News, Voice of America, The Telegraph, Instagram, Twitter, Netflix. 

So if you want to talk with your friends on social media or access your favorite streaming services, you’ll have to use a VPN. That’s because a VPN reroutes your internet traffic through a VPN server. This way, you get a new IP address from another country that doesn’t ban online content, allowing you to freely access the web.

3. It Unblocks Geo-Restricted Shows and Movies

Some streaming services are only available in specific countries, while other platforms don’t display the same shows and movies in each country. So you might not be able to watch your favorite TV show that you watch at home on your trip. That’s because streaming sites need to follow strict copyright regulations.

With a VPN, you can bypass those annoying geo-blocks. It changes your digital location by hiding your IP address, so you’ll get access to the content you want to watch. Top VPN providers unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Apple TV, HBO Max, Disney+, and many more. 

4. It Might Help You to Get Cheaper Flights

Airlines use your IP address and cookies to track your activity on their website. As a result, you might pay more than other people for the same tickets. In addition to that, some airlines practice what’s known as price discrimination. That means they display different prices based on your location — you’ll usually see steeper prices if you’re from a higher-income country.

With a VPN, you can connect to servers in lower-income countries like India, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Romania. That makes the airline’s site think you’re connecting to it from those places. So, you might get cheaper tickets than you’d normally do. 

However, remember to also use a different device and browser, ideally in incognito/private mode. Airline companies can also use cookies and browser fingerprinting to customize their prices, and a VPN can’t protect you against them.

5 Best VPNs for International Traveling

Here are the best 5 VPNs you can use when you’re traveling in a foreign country: 

1. NordVPN 

NordVPN has a large server network with 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries. So it’s easy to find a nearby server to connect to for fast speeds. 

We tested NordVPN on 10+ streaming sites and we were always able to unblock them. It worked with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Peacock, and HBO Max. We had very fast speeds on both distant and nearby servers. So we didn’t experience any buffering or quality drops on both HD and 4K videos. 

NordVPN also comes with a smart DNS, which lets you access streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPN apps. This is helpful if your hotel has a smart TV that’s not compatible with VPNs. The smart DNS requires a manual setup, but the provider has helpful tutorials — it shouldn’t take you more than 5-6 minutes to do it. The smart DNS won’t encrypt your traffic, so it can’t provide privacy, but it will provide much faster streaming.

We also like that NordVPN offers obfuscation. This feature hides the VPN traffic and makes it look like regular internet traffic. This is very useful because you can bypass government censorship if you’re traveling in restrictive countries that block VPNs. 

This provider also has a bunch of security and privacy features to protect your data when you use a WiFi network. It has a twice-audited no-logs policy and full leak protection. We ran leak tests on both distant and nearby servers, and our IP address was never exposed.  Also, it has Threat Protection, which blocks annoying ads and connections to malicious sites. It can even prevent you from downloading malware-infected files.

NordVPN also provides access to dedicated IPs for a small price. You can use them to securely access your bank’s site, as most banks block shared VPN IP addresses.

What’s more, NordVPN has apps for popular operating systems like iOS, macOS, Linux, Android, Windows, Android TV, and Fire TV. It also allows 6 simultaneous connections and 24/7 live chat support.

The VPN provider has pretty affordable plans — the longest subscription provides the best savings. Also, it backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free. 

Pros:
  • Thousands of lightning-fast servers
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

Surfshark is another great VPN with a large server network. It has 3,200 servers in 60+ countries. This way, you can connect to nearby servers and stream your favorite content. We tested this VPN with popular streaming sites and we were always able to unblock popular Netflix libraries like Netflix US, Netflix UK, and Netflix Germany. What’s more, it worked with other popular streaming sites as well, like Disney+, HBO Max, Prime Video, and Hulu. 

In addition to that, Surfshark also has Spoof GPS, which is an Android feature. Some streaming mobile apps, like Netflix, can use your GPS data to detect your real location. The Spoof GPS feature will hide your GPS data so that you can stream tons of content on the Netflix app on your mobile. 

We especially like that Surfshark allows unlimited connections, meaning you can use the VPN on as many devices as you want. So this provider might be a good pick if you have a large family and are all traveling together.

If you’re traveling through restrictive countries, Surfshark has 2 features to help you bypass online censorship. They’re called Camouflage Mode and NoBorders. Camouflage Mode is automatically enabled when you use OpenVPN, and it provides obfuscation. The NoBorders feature automatically triggers if Sursfahrk detects that a firewall is trying to restrict your online access. When that happens, you get a list of servers to connect to which refresh their IP addresses more often. 

For a small additional price, you can also get Surfshark Alert. This feature tells you how strong your passwords are and sends you alerts if your email has been compromised. Similarly, you can purchase Surfshark Antivirus, which protects you from malware infections if you accidentally interact with malicious foreign sites.

This VPN has apps for all platforms and a smart DNS tool you can use on devices that don’t support VPNs. It also provides 24/7 live chat support. Plus, it has very affordable plans and backs them all with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Allows split-tunneling and has multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and strong security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. Atlas VPN 

Atlas VPN is a great choice if you’re looking for a VPN with a free plan that’s secure and good for basic web browsing. The free plan allows unlimited connections, provides fast speeds, and even supports torrenting. However, you can only use servers in the US and the Netherlands and are limited to 5 GB per month.

Upgrading to the paid version, which is super cheap, provides access to unlimited data and 700+ servers in 30+ countries. You also get streaming support, which is really good. We ran tests on Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, and Disney+ on both distant and nearby servers. We were always able to unblock them. Also, we didn’t notice buffering when we skipped through HD and 4K videos. 

Atlas VPN also has high-end security features, like a good ad blocker that gets rid of malicious ads, trackers, and sites. We ran tests on ad-heavy sites and even shady sites, and the VPN blocked all ads and prevented us from accessing malicious sites. There’s also a feature that alerts you if your login credentials have been leaked online.

If you want to be extra safe when you’re browsing online, this provider also has SafeSwap servers in 3 countries (Singapore, the US, and the Netherlands). They refresh the IP addresses in the same VPN session, making it harder for anyone to track your location. 

Atlas VPN provides live chat support for paid users and very responsive email support for free users. Also, you can try its service for 30 days risk-free. 

Pros:
  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Limited Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

4. PrivateVPN 

We think PrivateVPN is a great choice for beginners, as its apps are extremely user-friendly. The interface is very simple to navigate and all features have helpful explanations. Plus, there aren’t even many features and settings, so this VPN won’t feel overwhelming.

Even though this VPN has a small server network of only 200+ servers, they are located in 60+ countries. So, it’s really easy to find and connect to a nearby server for fast speeds. Plus, the provider displays the server ping, which shows how long it takes for your device to communicate with the VPN server. That metric helps you find the fastest servers.

We tested PrivateVPN with popular streaming sites like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Disney+. We were always able to unblock libraries and watch content without experiencing any lag. 

PrivateVPN also has a Stealth VPN feature, which provides obfuscation. So this VPN might be a good pick if you plan on traveling to restrictive countries

Also, on top of a standard kill switch, this provider has an app-based kill switch that shuts down selected apps if the VPN disconnects. For example, you can make PrivateVPN shut down the banking app you’re using if the VPN disconnects. That’s much more convenient than losing all web access.

Unlike other VPNs, PrivateVPN lets you choose which kind of encryption you want to use — 128-bit AES or 256-bit AES. We really like that, as 128-bit AES encryption provides better speeds, but is just as secure as 256-bit AES encryption.

This VPN provider has apps for the most popular operating systems. It works on iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.  Also, it has very helpful live chat support.

PrivateVPN has very cheap plans and it backs them with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, it gives you access to the same features regardless of the plan you subscribe to. 

Pros:
  • Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
  • Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
  • Unblocks most streaming platforms
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Free Static IP servers
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Not as many servers as other VPN providers
  • No split-tunneling

5. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is another excellent provider with a large server network. Since it has VPN servers in 90+ countries, it’s easy to connect to local or nearby servers for good speeds. Plus, ExpressVPN has a built-in speed test feature, which lets you test the servers to find the fastest one for your location. In our tests, we had fast speeds on both distant and nearby servers. We could watch HD and 4K movies without experiencing buffering or quality drops. Also, all videos loaded fast when we skipped through them. 

This provider also claims it can unblock 65+ streaming sites. We ran tests on the most popular ones, and we were always able to unblock Netflix, Peacock, HBO Mac, BBC iPlayer, Apple TV, and Prime Video. A smart DNS service is also available, so you can use it to bypass geo-blocks and enjoy faster speeds on some smart TVs.  

ExpressVPN comes with full leak protection and Threat Manager, which blocks connections to malicious sites. In addition to that, its no-logs policy has been independently audited and the results are posted online for everyone to see them. 

Also, if you’re traveling to restrictive countries, the VPN can help you bypass internet censorship. That’s because it provides obfuscation on every server, and it also refreshes its IPs very fast to avoid IP blocks.

It has intuitive apps for Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, and Linux, with a 24/7 live chat.  

ExpressVPN only allows 5 simultaneous connections and is also pretty pricey. However, it provides excellent value and a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free. 

Pros:
  • Works with streaming
  • Supports torrenting
  • No-logs policy
  • TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
  • Premium security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Expensive subscription plans
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

How We Tested the Best VPNs for Travel

We took advantage of the fact that our team took some days off over the summer and traveled to a few foreign countries. Our team members traveled around Europe (Germany, Denmark, the UK, and the Czech Republic) while others went to the US. We had everyone on our team test top VPNs while traveling overseas.

We checked all the security features the VPNs have along with the level of privacy they offer. This way, we only chose VPNs that have strict no-logs policies, some of which are also audited. 

We ran speed tests and streaming tests on both nearby and distant servers. When we were browsing online, we had a lot of tabs opened and apps running. We streamed HD and 4K videos and checked what slowdowns we experienced for every server.

In the end, we checked the VPN apps and made sure that they work well. We looked for buggy behavior, such as freezes and random crashes. We also tested customer support to see how long it takes to be connected to a rep, and how helpful their answers are.

How to Set Up and Use a VPN When You Travel 

Here’s a quick and simple VPN setup guide: 

  1. Find a good VPN that suits your needs and go to its website. 
  2. Choose a plan and buy a VPN subscription. 
  3. Download the VPN on your device. 
  4. Install the VPN client. 
  5. Open the app and connect to a VPN server.

If you need to unblock streaming content, connect to a server in a country where your favorite titles are available. If you’re in a restrictive country and you want to get access to your email or social media apps, connect to any server from a country that doesn’t restrict internet usage. 

That’s all — this shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes and you can now unblock any content you want on the internet. 

Keep in mind to install the VPN when you’re still in your home country if you’re traveling to restrictive countries. Such countries often block access to VPN websites and services, so it’s much more difficult to purchase and use a VPN in those places.

How to Choose the Best VPN for Traveling Abroad

Here are the most important things a VPN should have so that you can use it when you travel: 

  • A large server network — connecting to very distant servers might slow down your internet speeds. If the VPN has servers in many countries around the world, it’s easy to find a nearby server for fast speeds. 
  • Fast speeds — you can expect a minor slowdown when you connect to a VPN server. However, that doesn’t mean you should experience lags, freezes, or crashes when you use them. You should be able to watch videos and play games without noticing any buffering.
  • Streaming support — top VPN providers can unblock dozens of streaming sites. If you can’t access a specific streaming service (like Netflix), it means that VPN doesn’t refresh its IP addresses regularly, so they are detected and blocked. 
  • High-end security features — having military-grade encryption is enough, but your VPN should offer more than that. To prevent IP leaks, make sure the VPN has a kill switch and at least DNS leak protection. 
  • Privacy features — some VPN providers log your data and sell it to third parties. Always check that your VPN has a strict no-logs policy, ideally one that’s audited. Besides, make sure that the VPN is located in a privacy-friendly country. 
  • Smart DNS — your accommodation might have devices that don’t support VPNs, like TVs or gaming consoles. In this case, it’s pretty nice if the provider has a smart DNS, so that you can still unblock streaming sites. Some top VPN providers like NordVPN, Surshark, and ExpressVPN offer a smart DNS feature free of charge. 
  • Obfuscation — countries with a low internet freedom score like China strictly regulate VPN usage. To bypass government censorship and access your Netflix account or your social media platforms, VPNs offer obfuscation. This feature hides the VPN traffic and makes it look like regular traffic. Keep in mind that this feature might slow down your internet speeds a bit more. 
  • Simultaneous connections — A good VPN should let you use the service on at least 5 devices. This is usually enough for 2 phones and laptops (work and personal), and 1 tablet. Anything less than that might be inconvenient. 
  • Fast customer support — quick help is essential when you’re abroad and your VPN might not work. Top VPN providers usually offer 24/7 live chat and email support. Also, they have a good support library with setup tutorials, troubleshooting guides, and FAQs. 
  • Good value — the VPNs should provide better savings if you subscribe to longer plans. They should also offer a money-back guarantee, the industry standard being 30 days. 

Best VPN for Travel FAQs

Here are the most common questions people ask about using a VPN when traveling overseas: 

Are VPNs Legal in All Countries?

Yes, VPNs are legal in most countries. However, some restrictive countries might ban these services. So, always make sure you check the local laws before you use a VPN in a foreign country. 

How Can You Access Blocked Content or Services while Traveling?

Using a VPN is the most popular way to unblock geo-restricted content, as the VPN prevents streaming sites from seeing your real location. A VPN also lets you access censored websites. Your IP address is replaced with another one from a whitelisted country that doesn’t have a firewall restriction attached to it. 

Besides a VPN, you can also use a smart DNS and a proxy server to access blocked content.

A proxy works just like a VPN — it reroutes your traffic through a server from a different country to bypass geo-restrictions. However, most proxies don’t use encryption, so they can’t provide strong privacy.

A smart DNS is a tool that changes your DNS requests. It will switch the metadata that reveals your real location with data linked to a whitelisted country so you can unblock content on the internet. Like a proxy, it doesn’t encrypt your traffic. In addition to that, it doesn’t hide your IP address either.

Compared to a smart DNS or a proxy server, a VPN is more secure, as it encrypts your traffic. That allows you to protect your sensitive data from hackers. 

Can I Get Cheaper Flights with a VPN?

Yes, a VPN can get you cheaper flights sometimes. Often, airlines customize prices based on your location and preferences. A VPN might get you better deals by hiding your location. For example, you might see cheaper prices if you use a VPN server in a low-income country.

However, this is not guaranteed to always work. Airline sites also use cookies and browser fingerprinting to customize their prices. Unfortunately, a VPN can’t protect you against those types of monitoring.

Can I Use a Free VPN for Traveling?

Yes, you can use a free VPN for traveling but we don’t recommend that. Most free VPNs can’t unblock popular streaming sites, have very slow speeds, and have very buggy apps.

However, if you insist on using a free VPN, Atlas VPN is an excellent provider that comes with a free plan. You can use it on unlimited devices and it has tons of security features to protect your data. The free plan also provides good speeds.

That said, it doesn’t include streaming support, though the free plan worked with smaller streaming sites like Pluto TV in our tests. What’s more, the free plan limits you to 5 GB of data, which is enough for only 3 hours of HD streaming. 

Can I Use an International VPN Anywhere?

Yes, you can use a VPN almost everywhere while traveling. We especially recommend using the VPN on public WiFi, like at an airport, coffee shop, or hotel. That way, it protects your data from potential cyber attacks.

What Are the Most Restrictive Countries?

China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cuba, and Azerbaijan are some examples. They block access to various websites and even block VPN connections.

If you travel to these countries, you’ll need a VPN that has obfuscation. This feature hides your VPN traffic and makes it look like regular internet traffic. This way, you can avoid VPN blocks. If you need a VPN with obfuscation, we recommend NordVPN, Surfshark, PrivateVPN, and ExpressVPN. 

Does a VPN Slow Down Your Speeds?

Yes, connecting to a VPN server will slow down your speeds. Encryption and the distance between your location and the server are factors that make your internet speed slower. 

That said, the best VPNs minimize the speed loss so that it’s hardly noticeable. They do that by using fast VPN protocols, like WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec. Also, they have large server networks, so you can find and connect to nearby servers that are not overcrowded.

What Is the Best VPN You Can Use When You’re Traveling? 

The best VPN for traveling is NordVPN. It has a huge network of 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries, and it works with all top streaming sites. It also has blazing-fast speeds and easy-to-use apps for all platforms. It includes high-end security features that protect you from malicious downloads.

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