I’m off to China and I have asked three people to make three very unique contributions to Solo Traveler while I’m away.
Today, I’m excited to introduce Doug as our guest blogger. He’s also my go-to guy for technology. He puts together devices in a simple and streamlined fashion to get the most use from them. He also communicates patiently, in human terms rather than with technical jargon.
Doug is going to write a few posts for us. The reasons:
- I’m leaving for China today which presents new technology issues for me and my work.
- I’m tired of carrying around my computer.
And now, over to Doug…
When I travel, I want to enjoy freedom. I want to enjoy my surroundings, disconnect and take in all the experience has to offer.
One problem; that’s not the world we live in.
We’re connected by multiple portable devices through which we share our experiences. For some of us, our entire life is moving towards a connected world in the cloud, and so privacy and security must be guarded. More than ever, no matter where you are, security online goes hand in hand with privacy.
Fortunately security is really simple.
In a series of posts, I’ll reveal simple methods to help you protect your digital security and make it safe for you to use public WiFi networks. This is important if you want to book accommodation with your credit card on the road or take care of your banking while traveling — anything that you consider private.
Secure your online privacy while traveling.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your security and privacy online when you connect to public and unprotected WiFi networks.
A VPN is a service you buy. It:
- Provides private access to the Internet.
- Encrypts all your online data so that no one can grab your communication from the air waves.
- Allows travelers to access the Internet as if they were in any country in the world – including your home country.
These services are easy to setup on a variety of computers, tablets and smart phones. I watched while Janice set up her own VPN. I didn’t give any advice as she was going through it and in 20 minutes, her VPN was up and running. (Note from Janice, here’s my step-by-step guide on setting up a VPN) This needs to be done on each device.
Once your VPN is set up, each of your devices will have a VPN “On” switch. Turn it “On” and you are operating in a secure environment with your privacy protected. Since you set up your home country as your location, you will always be perceived as accessing the net from there.
Companies like Strong VPN operate on a subscriptions basis (Janice paid $55 for the year) and offer secure Virtual Private Networks in Canada, US, UK and the Netherlands and have 24-hour online support. In addition to the subscription based models there are free VPN providers but I do not recommend them where security and privacy are concerned.
Avoid roaming fees and get WiFi for any device through your phone.
It’s not always possible or reliable to connect to free public WiFi while traveling. Why not create your own internet access with your smartphone?
To do this you need:
- An unlocked GSM smartphone. (a GSM smartphone uses a SIM card)
- A SIM card purchased in the country you’re visiting with a data plan (called “with Internet” in China) that allows for tethering or data sharing if you want to use it as your WiFi source.
Using the unlocked phone loaded with the local SIM card gives you a local phone number, internet data access or both depending on the SIM card you buy. It avoids expensive roaming fees or travel packages from your home mobile carrier.
The internet connection can also be shared with other devices like laptops and tablets when data sharing is supported by the SIM card.
For a great resource about where and how to purchase a SIM card, together with user reviews and tips, visit the “Pay as You Go Sim with Data Wiki” Here you’ll find valuable information for nearly every country explaining where, how and how much you should expect to pay for a SIM card in your destination country. The most valuable advice we’ve received is, “have a backup when your connection abroad is critical”. Most say they connected within 15 minutes of purchasing a SIM card, but some have said in countries like India and Italy, it has taken several days and they were thankful for a backup plan.
Next time, I’ll tell you about “The Cloud” and how you can securely store and access you digital life from anywhere in the world, on any computer, tablet or smartphone.
Have fun – Doug