How to Get Secure Wi-Fi While Traveling

Posted on Jan 6, 2023 by Jai Reider

Is it worth the effort to secure your internet connection while traveling? Couldn’t you just hop onto a free public Wi-Fi connection? You could — but you’d be putting yourself at risk. Hackers frequently use unsecured Wi-Fi networks to perform Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks and gain access to your devices, stealing your data in the process.

When you connect devices to unprotected networks, you also invite malware onto them, which is disastrous for both you and your devices. Don’t worry — you can get secure Wi-Fi while traveling, so not all is lost. We’ll show you how.

What Are the Risks of Using Wi-Fi While Traveling? 

When you use unsecured Wi-Fi while traveling, you run the risk of getting your life stolen — quite literally. Hackers go as far as setting up honeypot Wi-Fi networks to trap unsuspecting people.

A honeypot network is set up to masquerade as a legitimately secured hotspot. When you connect your devices, the hacker responsible for the network can use spoofed websites to steal your banking information and any other credentials you try to enter.

Malicious hackers can also use public Wi-Fi networks to install fileless malware and spyware onto your devices. These apps harvest a lot of data, ranging from your calendar appointments to your location. Not only can threat actors see where you are, but they can use this information to commit identity fraud and theft.  

Using public Wi-Fi comes with many other risks, including man-in-the-middle attacks. Hackers use man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept a two-party online transaction on the web. The hacker spoofs one or both parties to get access to the data they’re transmitting. The collected data is then used fraudulently.

Criminals can also hijack your sessions when you use unprotected networks. Session hijacking is a type of cyber attack where a hacker hijacks and takes over your active web session, or saves your session ID to impersonate you at a later time. 

The hijacker steals the unique identifier a website gives you and then pretends to be you. They get access to the site as you do, and can see everything related to your accounts.

How Can I Get Secure Wi-Fi When Traveling?

To prevent all those mishaps, you need to know how to get secure Wi-Fi while traveling.  Here are the best ways to securely connect to the internet on the road.

    📢Get a Local SIM

A local SIM is one of the most underrated ways to get secure Wi-Fi when traveling. Check if your destination is covered by local data service, like 4G or 5G. If it is, you can get a SIM from a local ISP for your unlocked mobile phone or SIM-compatible wireless modem. This option will give you access to a secure and faster network compared to public Wi-Fi.

Some mobile providers require local identification to purchase SIM cards, so if you’ll be visiting friends or family, have them get the SIM on your behalf. When you use a local SIM, you’ll either need to use the additional SIM slot in dual SIM phones or replace your existing SIM for single SIM slot phones.

Local SIMs are more secure than using public WI-Fi, but without further data protection, the issuing mobile service provider can still access your connection data. This could still cause trouble for you in countries with fewer digital freedoms, where the authorities monitor and restrict internet browsing and communication.

    📢Buy a Travel Plan From Your Current Mobile Provider

Mobile service providers usually offer customers roaming plans. These allow you to connect to and use foreign networks when you’re outside of your local internet service provider’s coverage area. Before you travel, contact your mobile provider to learn about their roaming plans.

After you activate the roaming plan, go to the network settings tab on your device. Select the SIM card, and head to ‘Roaming’ to switch it on. Roaming plans are usually expensive, so it’s possibly not the best first option if cost is a concern. Even though a roaming plan is more secure than using unsecured Wi-Fi, keep in mind your data is still vulnerable to your ISP.

    📢Get a Travel SIM

Travel SIMs — physical or digital — give you a flexible data option. This is especially useful for those traveling to multiple countries. These SIM cards provide internet coverage to more networks than local SIMs and provide better rates than roaming options.

You can purchase a travel SIM from providers online and also manage the account online in your own language. You need to get an unlocked mobile device, phone, or router, to use travel SIMs. If you use a physical travel SIM, you’ll either need to use the additional SIM slot in dual SIM phones, or replace your existing SIM for single SIM slot phones.

Travel SIMs are a bit more costly than local SIMs, but the flexibility for multiple-country use could be worth it. When you use travel SIMs, the service provider will have access to your browsing data, so you’ll need to use further protection, like a VPN.

    📢Buy a VPN

A VPN is a great solution if you don’t want to worry about device security or the hassle of switching SIMs. VPNs are a convenient way for travelers to secure their devices while using the internet, especially if you cannot create your own hotspots. 

A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it unreadable. Some VPNs have additional security features to prevent malicious software from being downloaded to your device like antivirus add-ons and ad and malware blockers.  

    📢Get a Travel Mobile Hotspot

A travel mobile hotspot is a portable device. It conveniently operates without a SIM card, but some of them do have a slot available for more flexibility. You can either purchase or rent one online. The whole process from paying for the equipment to paying for the service can be done online. 

Once your device is delivered to your vacation spot, it will automatically search for the best connection via the available mobile service providers. The services have pay-as-you-go data options to reduce your overall connection fees. 

Travel Hotspot devices usually have some level of encryption to protect your traffic, but it won’t hurt to add more via a VPN.

    📢Use Satellite Internet

The world never stops, neither should your connection

Satellite dishes help you get secure Wi-Fi- while traveling to remote zones. An internet signal is routed through the satellites to the receiver dishes assigned to pick up the signal. You can place the receiver dish on your home or vehicle, or wherever you need internet. The modem connected to the dish then converts the signal into a usable internet connection. 

Satellite internet is a good option for campers, RV operators, and boat owners. The equipment is usually too bulky for the regular vacationer to haul around and doesn’t offer Wi-Fi outside of the setup area.

Reach out to local businesses offering satellite internet to get plans and pricing details, or you can search for and buy packages online. Some systems need the help of a professional to set up, while others are simple and straightforward, so choose based on your capabilities.   

Can I Use Private Internet Access to Get Secure Wi-Fi While Traveling?

Yes, PIA ensures you get secure Wi-Fi while traveling, wherever you are. Whether you’re using public Wi-Fi or tethering from one of your own devices, it’s important to encrypt your traffic. Otherwise, you leave yourself vulnerable to cyberpunks looking to steal your data. 
PIA’s 256-bit and 128-bit AES ciphers are the most secure encryption algorithms in the world and protect your traffic from your ISP and other data spies. Our encryption scrambles your data, making it unreadable to anyone — even your ISP. That means you can surf the internet safely and privately from any location.

PIA’s antivirus is an absolute must-have when you use Wi-Fi while traveling. It offers around-the-clock malware protection by continuously scanning your PC for malicious applications. It also comes with a DNS-based ad blocker to keep you safe from trackers and websites with harmful scripts. Plus, it’s risk-free to try with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

It All Boils Down to This…

It’s not always easy to get secure Wi-Fi while traveling if you didn’t prepare suitable options beforehand. If you’re visiting multiple countries, consider a travel SIM, or a travel mobile hotspot. For single-destination travel, a local SIM is a great option. But whatever you choose, make sure you layer it with a VPN for added security. 

Get PIA VPN to secure your devices on any Wi-Fi, mobile, or ISP network. Our VPN uses top-notch encryption and secure protocols, Wireguard® and OpenVPN, to protect your data. We seal all of your traffic in uncrackable code, so no one can access it. That means you’re safe from prying eyes and can enjoy the internet safely, without worry.

FAQ

Are hotels, airports, and other public Wi-Fi networks safe to use?

Not all the time. They aren’t usually strongly protected, if protected at all. These Wi-Fi networks are notorious for data theft. Malicious hackers find public Wi-Fi networks easy targets, so they use them to set up traps for unsuspecting users.

If you’ve no other option and have to use public Wi-Fi of this nature, make sure to get a VPN to protect your devices.

How do I make hotel Wi-Fi safe?

The best thing to fortify your devices when using your hotel’s Wi-Fi or any unsecured Wi-Fi is a VPN. A VPN works by encrypting the data coming from your device, sending it through a secure tunnel connecting the client (you) and the requested server (website).

If you can’t use a VPN, ensure the web pages you visit at least have HTTPS at the front of the website’s address. This means the connection between the web page and the server is encrypted, offering you some form of protection.

Another great safety measure is keeping your firewall enabled. Firewalls protect your devices from data-based malware threats. 

How can I keep my devices safe while traveling?

Firstly, don’t connect unprotected devices to any public Wi-Fi, or any public computers — including storage devices. If you must, make sure your traffic is encrypted with a VPN. You should also consider using antivirus software to stay protected against harmful malware. PIA’s antivirus add-on comes with built-in malware protection, plus a DNS-based ad blocker and automatic vulnerability patching. 

Does Private Internet Access improve device security while traveling?

Yes, PIA can improve the security of up to 10 of your devices under one subscription. Our VPN encrypts all your outgoing traffic, safeguarding your confidential data. Our automatic Kill Switch further protects your traffic from accidental leaks. If anything disrupts your connection, we’ll protect your connection (and important data!) until it’s safe to resume.

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