How to access sites abroad with a VPN

Access sites abroad with a VPN
(Image credit: Future)

Using a VPN to access sites when abroad is one of the most common VPN uses, and it’s a basic function pretty much any service can provide. However, if you pick a top-quality virtual private network, you’ll have a much more reliable browsing experience with a huge range of locations to choose from.

Accessing restricted sites can be very useful if you’re on holiday or on a business trip – while you sometimes might be able to scrape by, in many situations a VPN can save you a whole lot of hassle. Below, we’ll explore a few uses you might find handy next time you’re abroad.

What can I access with a VPN?

With a great VPN, the internet is your oyster – but on your travels you’re most likely going to want to access general websites you regularly visit when you’re back home, your online banking, and probably whatever streaming services you subscribe to.

airplane in the sky

(Image credit: Kaotaru)

Regular browsing

If you regularly visit certain news sites, for example, you might not be able to access them in the same way you usually do if you're abroad. Perhaps the site's in a different language, and often outside home territories content is limited and needs a subscription to read.

If you’ve got a VPN installed you’ll be able to virtually relocate yourself to your home country and browse your favorite sites as if you were sat on your own sofa. If you’re from the US or the UK, pretty much any VPN will have servers back home, but if you’re from a smaller country or somewhere outside of Europe or the Americas, you might need a service with a good VPN server variety to get you connected back home.

Access online banking

While abroad you’re likely to want to access your online banking, but if you haven’t informed your bank of your trip (it’s easy to forget!) you might find yourself locked out of your account for ‘suspicious activity’. At the least that’s going to involve an unnecessary phone call to the bank, and at worst it could leave you stranded somewhere without access to your money.

While this could be avoided by telling your bank, if you’re a frequent traveler it might just be easier to spend less than $2.50 a month on a VPN like Surfshark. And, if you do that, not only will you never have to worry about getting locked out of your bank account again, but you’ll get all the other benefits that come with a VPN too.

Another bonus of using a VPN for banking abroad is due to the fact you're probably more likely to be using public Wi-Fi. Unsecured connections are prime places for hackers and data thieves to target people, but using a VPN encrypts all your traffic, meaning your bank details will stay absolutely private, even if someone does intercept your connection.

Unblocking streaming services

One of the most popular uses for VPNs is unblocking streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and many more. Netflix delivers different shows to people in different countries, and some are only available in one – for example, iPlayer is only available in the UK.

If you’re going on holiday you’ll probably still have some downtime in which you’ll want to watch TV, but without a VPN your favorites might not be available. If you get a great streaming VPN and connect to a server back home, though, you’ll be able to watch what you want, when you want.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also do the opposite from your sofa – connect to a server overseas and see what shows are available there that you can’t access normally.

Whatever sites you want to view – news, your online banking, Netflix – a VPN can add value and save you hassle when trying to browse the web as usual when you’re overseas.

Save 49% and get three months free of our top-rated VPN

<a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Save 49% and get three months free of our top-rated VPN
We rate <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" data-link-merchant=""">ExpressVPN as the best service on the market right now – for pretty much any purpose. Whether you want to secure your online banking, access sites overseas or watch Netflix while you're globetrotting, it's the best choice thanks to its blazing speeds, vast network of servers and excellent privacy policy. 

Tom's Guide readers can claim three free months of with any 12-month plan – that's 15 months for the price of 12. And, if you're not happy with the service, you're covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.