7 ways a VPN can protect your family on summer vacation

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When it comes to travel essentials, a VPN is one thing you can’t afford to forget! Here are 7 ways a VPN will protect your family while on vacation this summer.

As you pack for summer vacation, your biggest worry may be remembering sunscreen and shades. Sun protection is a must, but don't forget to shield yourself from a less obvious threat: cybercriminals who want to ruin your trip.

A virtual private network (VPN) can keep you and your family safe from hackers and scammers this summer. If you've never heard of one before, don't stress: Norton recently conducted a survey and found that nearly one third (29%) of people had no idea what a VPN was. Simply put, a VPN is a privacy tool that lets you get online securely from anywhere—whether you're waiting at an airport, sipping a cold brew at a local coffee shop, or relaxing by the pool at a resort.

A VPN protects you by disguising your internet protocol (IP) address and creating a secure, encrypted "tunnel" through which all of your online activity flows. This shields you from nearby cybercriminals who might be using special equipment to eavesdrop—also known as "snooping"—on your online activity.

With all of that in mind, here are seven ways a VPN can protect you and your family during summer vacation this year, so you can stay focused on having fun in the sun. 

1. VPNs help you stay connected safely.

In our always-on digital world, it’s helpful to be connected to wifi nearly everywhere we go. This includes spots you may visit daily, like the local mall or your favorite coffee shop, as well as frequent travel destinations. According to another recent Norton survey, more than half (56%) of Americans have used public wifi in a hotel, while over one-third (35%) have logged onto public wifi in an airport. 

It can be risky to check your email, message a friend, or post on social media from public wifi because your login credentials and other private data may fall into the wrong hands, but according to our survey only 35% of you are out there using a VPN on public wifi. If you're using an iOS device while traveling, ensure you're protected by using a VPN for iOS to safely stay in touch with family and friends. Eek! If your social media or email is hacked, a cybercriminal can take control of your accounts, post anything they want to as you, and try to scam your contacts. A VPN lets you safely log into your email, messaging, and social accounts to safely stay in touch with family and friends while you're away.

2. Keep your finances in check.

Vacation expenses can add up, and you may be wondering if you spent too much on dinner last night or if you've got enough money in your bank account to rent the luxury pontoon boat. 

But opening up your banking app or logging in through an unsecure network can open a can of worms for hackers. The survey found that 59% of those who have never used a VPN think it would be beneficial for banking when traveling. A VPN can allow you to securely log into your bank account, check your balance, pay bills, and transfer money, even on public or hotel wifi. By using a VPN, you can prevent a thief from swiping your bank login information and even stealing your money.

3. Sleep well at your hotel.

Are you staying in a hotel, resort or vacation rental while you travel this summer? Hotel wifi is notorious for its lack of security. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned that hotel guests are easy targets for criminals who can gather personal data like the names, addresses, and credit card numbers of guests using the hotel wifi. And they can trick you with "evil twin attacks" by creating a fake wifi network that resembles the one owned by the hotel, then spying on everything you do online. You'll sleep much better in that hotel bed knowing that you logged in through a VPN for added security.

4. Binge your favorite shows anywhere with a VPN.

Picture this: you just had a long day of international travel, you check into your hotel, and you want to throw on an episode of their favorite show before bed. Only, the show isn’t available in the country you’re currently in. Or, you started binging a new series while studying abroad, and once you’re home, you can’t access the final episodes. 

Did you know a VPN could solve these problems? 43% of people who have a VPN use it for the availability of servers in specific countries. A huge amount of streaming content is geographically locked to just one country. Whether you're traveling with a PC or an Android device, a VPN for PC or VPN for Android can help you unlock geo-restricted shows and movies. When you’re done sightseeing and ready to relax on your vacation, a VPN will ensure that you can watch your favorite content. 

5. Check in with work.

You might not plan to work during your summer vacation, but you never know when you might need to respond to a message from your boss or check in on a project. The FBI has warned that, when using a non-secure Wifi network for remote work, you could be putting customer data at risk or even allowing a cybercriminal into your employer's business network. A VPN can keep your connection private, helping you dip into work safely before you go take a dip in the lake.

6. Keep tabs on your accounts.

If your summer travel plans take you out of the country, you may find that you can't access certain accounts or online services without a VPN. Your service provider may shut down your access from a foreign country for security reasons. This can prevent you from keeping track of all your accounts or using online services you need. A VPN can allow you to set your location to your home country so you can freely access everything you need.

7. Protect your kids on the go.

Think of a VPN like floaties for surfing the internet. You might not always know what your kids are up to online, and a VPN can help protect their privacy from hackers and scammers while they play games, log into their social accounts, and chat with friends. Just keep in mind that a VPN may allow kids to bypass parental controls set up on the router, but not those set up at the device level. You might want to test out the VPN with your child's device to make sure your controls work.

There are many VPN services available, so take the time to shop for a reputable service that offers all the features you need to keep you safe while you travel. For example, you'll want a VPN that offers mobile service to protect your phone or tablet while you travel. Also make sure it offers a "kill switch" to turn off your connection if your VPN service gets dropped momentarily.

You have a lot to do to get ready for your summer vacation, from booking tours to scouting out restaurants, to buying pool noodles. But taking a little extra time to get a VPN before you go is well worth it, so your family can enjoy a worry-free vacation.

Allie Johnson
  • Allie Johnson
  • Freelance Writer
Allie Johnson is a freelance journalist who covers cybersecurity, privacy, and consumer topics. She has written for Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and Discover.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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