With a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, you can maintain online security and privacy even while you’re away from home or work. You can protect yourself from the prying eyes of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), your school, your employer, your government, hackers, and cybercriminals.
The topic of VPNs typically comes up when we’re talking about secure browsing when using a public Wi-Fi network at coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc. However, VPNs are used for more than that. Here, we look at how you can use a VPN when you travel out of your country and want to access resources and services that are available only within the country.
Gaining such access is not usually easy, because all resources and services that you use while you’re at home will be able to see that you’re trying to access from another country. Most of these services have firewalls that might flag your attempt to access the service or resource as an attempted breach from a cybercriminal or hacker and deny access.
However, if you’re the one trying to access the service and use it as you would while at home, then using a VPN can help you achieve this. Let’s take a look at some situations.
Using your credit or debit card
If you live in Austin, Texas, (for example) and all of a sudden someone seems to be attempting to use your debit or credit card from São Paulo, Brazil, your card provider is likely to block its use for security reasons. Sure, you can inform your card provider whenever you travel to a different city, but that information might not reach every single vendor you use while you’re abroad.
A surefire way of ensuring your card is not declined is by logging into your preferred VPN service, selecting a server in your country of origin,, and then ing about your transactions as usual.
Making purchases and shipping the products home
If you’ve traveled out of your country and want to order something and send it home, you may run into some problems because most online stores will typically redirect you to the version of the store local to the country you visit. It is often the case that online stores vary their prices and shipping costs depending on the location of the customer.
If you discover that the price of the product you’re interested in is higher in your host country or it costs more to ship from there, you can use a VPN to access the online store from a server in your home country, order and ship the product at the more favorable prices.
Watching your favorite content on streaming services
Some of your preferred TV shows or sports games are only available to viewers in your home country and you don’t want to miss out on the latest episode or game while you’re traveling. This is a common problem for travelers who are subscribed to streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Now, and BBC iPlayer among others.
There is no good reason why you should be stuck watching boring yet exorbitantly priced hotel movies. To catch up with the show or game, log into your VPN service and access the streaming service from a server at home.
It is, however, important to note that you should exercise some caution because various types of content are banned in different countries for a variety of reasons. Watching blocked content while you’re in the host country can get you into serious trouble if, for example, the content is blocked due to religious reasons. The consequences of getting caught might not justify the risk in a case where the penalties are severe.
Using your home VOIP services while abroad
The phone bills at hotels tend to be considerably higher than those at home. However, some countries make the use of Skype and other VOIP services difficult, or they may pay expensive fees for making international VOIP calls.
A VPN can, therefore, be useful if you plan to call back home. By tunneling back to a server in your country of origin and connecting the call through it, you can save money on your calls. In addition to that, your calls are secured and private because they are encrypted, meaning no one can eavesdrop on the conversation.
Accessing your social media accounts in countries where they are blocked
Countries such as China, Cuba, Ethiopia, and Iran have banned the use of Facebook. Other major websites such as Twitter, YouTube, and even Google are also blocked in some countries. In this case, we feel the need to emphasize the need to exercise caution while in some of these countries and the penalties are severe.
That said, you may have a good reason to access your social media accounts while in such a country and to get around the censorship and restricted content, a VPN comes in handy.
Hiding your location and identity from snooping governments
Some companies provide their employees with a VPN when they travel out of the country. The employees are given software clients and configurations that they can use to create and access encrypted tunnels between their devices and servers in their home country. While these corporate VPNs are highly effective in hiding content, they typically don’t hide the IP addresses of the endpoints of the VPN from snooping nation states.
In contrast, well-established commercial VPNs not only hide our data but also mask your location and IP address. As a result, it becomes extremely difficult for spying governments and even hackers to know your location and identity. You are therefore safe from potential threats.
A final word from VPN Base
While VPNs are powerful, exercising caution when using them for the above functions is important. Highly sophisticated tools exist for detecting VPN technology and some governments are strongly against the use of such technology, and therefore impose harsh penalties. So be safe and smart!
To find out about the best VPN services in various countries and regions, browse our website and read our in-depth expert reviews.