Whether you are new to traveling or have been on the road for months on end, every traveler needs a kit full of trusted tools. It can be anywhere from extra toilet paper, a backup hard drive for pictures, or anything else that is useful while traveling.

Have you considered adding a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to your travel checklist?

When you travel abroad, chances are you will encounter a geo-restriction while surfing the web. Even if you are trying to access services you typically use at home, your location may prevent you from using them.

Geo-restrictions can be frustrating for travelers. Luckily for you, there are simple ways around them that are secure and reliable. The best one is a VPN.

What is a Geo-Restriction?

If you tried using the BBC iPlayer streaming service without living in the United Kingdom, you would be denied access. The video you wanted to load would have a message saying that due to your region, you are unable to view the content. When you are locked out of content because of your location, that is a geo-restriction.

How Do Geo-Restrictions Work?

Each device that connects to a network has an IP (Internet Protocol) address that is derived from a series of numbers. That address gives up the location in which you are using the device in. When you send data to the network in a request for access to a webpage, the IP address is also sent.

When a geo-restriction is in place, IP addresses are pooled together to distinguish those who can and cannot access the site. The network will know where you are by your IP address and deny you access.

Why Are Geo-Restrictions Used?

There are many reasons for coming across a geo-restriction. One may be due to copyright issues. Ownership of a service or media is on a territorial basis. So what is owned in the UK, the United States might not have the rights to show it, and vice versa. Geo-restricting is then used to restrict those outside of the designated region from whatever they are blocking.

Other reasons might include legal restrictions on services due to the country’s laws. If their services are used in a country in which it is illegal in (for example, online gambling services are restricted in some regions), the website could be liable. Some companies may even use geo-blocking as a way to charge a different price on a product depending on the area.

How to bypass geo-restrictions while traveling (plus watch Netflix other countries!)

How to Bypass a Geo-Restriction

The most effective way to bypass a geo-restriction is through a VPN. When you use a VPN, the software creates a tunnel for your data to flow through. As it travels to and from the network, the VPN also encrypts it, making it virtually invisible to peering eyes other than your own.

A part of the encrypted data is your IP address. Since the tunnel masks all the data, so too is your IP address masked. The company you are accessing will not be able to determine your location, granting you entrance into the webpage or service.

A VPN can also change your IP address altogether. When that happens, your device gives off a different IP address to make it look like you are in a different location. So, when your device sends your IP address to the network, it thinks you are somewhere entirely different.

While you travel abroad, you want to ensure you can still access the same websites and services you would at home. Although that may not always be the case, installing a VPN will almost guarantee you access to what you need. On top of that, a VPN ensures you have a safe and reliable connection to any public network you join.

This is a guest post by Jordan Choo