What is a VPN & how does it work?

VPN stands for Virtual Personal Network.  You sign up for an account with a provider such as ExpressVPN.  You then put their app on your phone or tablet, and add the ExpressVPN extensions to Chrome & other browsers on your laptop or desktop PC.  One account allows several devices.

With the VPN switched off, you browse normally through WiFi or mobile data.  When you switch the VPN on you can also browse normally, but the data you send through the WiFi or 3G/4G mobile data system is encrypted and transmitted to the internet via the VPN company's servers, which are located in a country you can select in the app or browser extension.  ExpressVPN allows you to select a server located in any of 128 countries, for example.  And if you If you choose servers located in a particular country, you're then browsing with an IP address located in that country and websites will identify you as located there - which means you can get around all sorts of annoying geographic restrictions that some websites impose.

Why do you need a VPN for travel?

I doubted I needed a VPN, I thought it was something for techies.  But I signed up for a trial month for a trip to China (the reason is explained below!), it worked a treat and I now realise there are good reasons for having one, especially if you travel a lot.  Here are a few key reasons:

Which VPN?

I did my research and several Best Buys came up in reviews time after time.  I went with www.expressvpn.com and have been delighted with it's ease of use, speed, and what it does - I have now signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.  Let me know what you think!

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