You’ve spent the day walking all over Barcelona, consumed the equivalent of your weight in tapas, and now you just wanna relax in your hotel room and watch some television. Flipping through the channels on the TV reveals on BBC News as your English language option, so you opt to stream something online instead.
Bad news though, your IP address says you’re outside the US so you can’t stream the latest episode of Steven Universe from the Cartoon Network.
Yup, you just got geo-blocked.
Fortunately, you can get around this little block as easily as the Crystal Gems can save the day. But what will your power be – a VPN or smart DNS proxy?
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What Is Smart DNS?
The simple definition here is that smart DNS lets you change your IP address location so that you can get around those pesky geo-block content restrictions.
Wanna get more technical?
DNS, or Domain Name System, is the “how” part of the equation where website addresses are converted into IP address locations. With that in mind, SmartDNS receives that initial address information and then magically changes it so that it appears to have come from a completely different location. (You get to select that location.)
Benefits of Smart DNS
Compared to a VPN connection, the Smart DNS Proxy is generally faster. And when you’re streaming that can be important, though VPN speeds are usually good enough to stream movies (assuming you’re using a quality service).
Smart DNS also is usually cheaper in cost than using a VPN service. If you’re on a super tight budget, then this can make a big difference for you since the average difference I’ve seen is around half as much as a good VPN.
Drawbacks of Smart DNS
There is zero encryption with Smart DNS proxies, which means that you’re not anonymous (well, as anonymous as you can be online).
There is zero privacy protection with SmartDND. Yup, anyone who intercepts your data can see it – that includes any passwords that you enter into your device and the exactly activities that you’re doing online.
As you can see, the drawbacks here are huge ones.
What Is A VPN?
In you haven’t already read our beginner’s guide to VPNs, then we’ll give you a simple summary here.
A VPN is a way for you to change your location online and for you to secure everything you do online so that no one else can intercept your data.
VPNs offer the ultimate in online privacy and security since the encrypt your online data and send it through a secure VPN tunnel to prevent hackers from intercepting your online data and activity.
Plus, they are great for getting around geo-blocked content.
Benefits of VPNs
VPNs encrypt your online activity, which means that you can be anonymous with your online browsing and activities.
With their encryption and secure VPN tunnel, you get the ultimate in online privacy when using a VPN for all of your online activities.
You can use VPNs to access all sorts of geo-blocked content, such as foreign Netflix offerings.
Drawbacks of VPNs
Due to the way that VPNs work (by sending all off your traffic through their servers as a middleman), your internet speed is slower than if you were not connected via a VPN. However, in most instances (if you’re using a reliable VPN) the lower speed doesn’t negatively affect your activities, including your streaming.
The good VPN providers are only available as a paid service. And, their fees are higher in price than those of Smart DNS proxies.
Conclusion: Which Is Better For Your International Travel?
Since you’ll probably need to log into either a streaming website or your email, it is a good idea for you to go with a VPN service instead of using a SmartDNS proxy.
Using the best VPN for international travel on your vacation is the best way to protect your online data, as well as allowing you to bypass geo-blocked content restrictions if you’re trying to stream something from your home country.
Don’t have a VPN on your computer, tablet, or smartphone? It’s easy to get one and I can recommend the best ones that I’ve used on my international travels.
Some things to keep in mind when shopping for a VPN:
- Pick a VPN with plenty of server locations
- Make sure they don’t keep logs of your activity
- See if they have a kill switch to keep you protected if the connection drops
- If you want to torrent, make sure torrenting/P2P activity is allowed
Recommendations: Best VPNs for Travel
There are plenty of great VPN options out there for your holiday vacation needs. Two of my favorites are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Of those two, NordVPN is slightly cheaper. When I was looking for the best VPN for travel to Europe a few years ago, I used NordVPN and had a great experience.
It has all of my must-have features, including an app that I can put on my smartphone and tablet. And it’s just a great all around VPN for any need.
As a traveler, I appreciate that ExpressVPN has fast connections all over the world. That’s why ExpressVPN is my favorite online privacy tool.
And since I sometimes torrent things when I’m traveling abroad, I love that ExpressVPN supports torrenting and P2P traffic.
I don’t like that they only let you connect 3 devices at a time, but that might be just enough for some people.
They offer a 30-day money back guarantee, and you can get started for just $12.95. Or, spring for a longer commitment and enjoy even cheaper monthly rates.
To learn more, visit the ExpressVPN website.
Like ExpressVPN, you get all of the must-have features with NordVPN. It works on all of my devices and it’s also a great all around VPN for any need.
I’ve used it all over the world, and it also has fast connections and plenty of servers to choose from when you’re ready to connect and get online.
And yes, they don’t care if you’re torrenting – they welcome P2P/torrent traffic users.
I really love that you can connect 6 devices at the same time since I don’t travel alone and I have a lot of devices.
They offer a 30-day money back guarantee, and you can get started for just $11.95. Or, spring for a longer commitment and enjoy even cheaper monthly rates.
You can even pay in crypto, which is really cool if you’re extra serious about your privacy.
To learn more, visit the NordVPN website.