Good morning everyone, happy Presidents Day! I am writing this post from beautiful, sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and I hope you have the day off as well to explore the world. When I travel, staying connected is always a huge priority to me, so finding free, reliable Wifi is important. Unfortunately, public Wifi in hotels, restaurants, and public spaces is fraught with danger. You never know who is connected to the Wifi network and if they are intercepting your data and personal information.
Several months ago, my friend Stefan at Rapid Travel Chai recommended ExpressVPN (referral link). VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is a service that encrypts all of your incoming and outgoing data. I have used ExpressVPN at home, on the road, and on my iPhone for the last 3 months and have nothing but good things to say about the service. Here are the highlights of the service that I cut and pasted from their website:
- Videos from anywhere – Watch the content you want from anywhere on Earth at blazing fast speeds.
- Online privacy – Encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address from hackers and spies.
- Unblock websites – Access any website or app without censorship.
- Easy-to-use VPN service for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers, and Linux – Setup is easy, whether you’re using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Our user-friendly apps let you secure your connection and unblock websites in one click. Just sign up, install, and connect.
- Ultra secure and ultra fast – Our network is SSL secured with 256-bit encryption, and we’re constantly optimizing our network to provide unlimited bandwidth and speed, so you can stream your favorite movies and TV shows in high definition. ExpressVPN runs seamlessly in the background so you can use the internet without interruptions.
- 5-star customer support – Our world-class support team is at your service. We offer round-the-clock customer support by live chat and email. Get instant help from a knowledgeable support agent when you use our live chat feature.
- 145+ VPN locations… and counting! – You can choose from 145 cities in 94 countries. With unlimited speeds and unlimited server switches, you can connect from anywhere in the world.
- 30-day money-back guarantee – We’re confident that you’ll be happy with our product and services. We also want you to be confident in your purchase, which is why we have a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Here are screenshots of the ExpressVPN software running on my laptop (left side shows not connected and right side shows connected to VPN):
The best feature about ExpressVPN on desktop/laptop is the ability to run a speed test to all available VPN to determine which network is the fastest. No matter where you are in the country or world, the speed test service will tell you exactly which network will give you the best VPN speed. Even though I am in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, ExpressVPN has determined that connecting to San Jose, CA, is the fastest option, even though VPN options like Los Angeles or San Diego might be physically closer to me.
I ran 2 speedtest.net tests. The left side shows the speeds before joining VPN and the right side shows the speeds afterward joining VPN. In most cases, the VPN network should run a little slower than connecting directly to the Wifi network since the data needs to go through the VPN service before going to you, so just ignore the conflicting results below.
Along with software that works on desktops and laptops, ExpressVPN also has a great iOS app (and Android app). The service works the same on the app, but it does not have a speed test feature built in (hopefully some day soon it will), so I usually select the VPN near San Francisco or San Jose by default (since I am normally in the Bay Area).
I once again ran 2 speedtest.net tests (using the iOS app). The left side shows the speeds before joining VPN and the right side shows the speeds after joining VPN. As you can see, the download and upload speeds are a little slower when connected to VPN, which makes sense, since the data has to go through the VPN before getting to me.
I use ExpressVPN anytime I am connected to a Wifi network. On my desktop and laptop, ExpressVPN loads when I start my computer and automatically connects to my preferred VPN. If the Wifi signal goes out, ExpressVPN will pause all inbound and outbound traffic until it can automatically reconnect to VPN, so your data stays private and secure the whole time.
ExpressVPN worked great when I was in South America a few weeks ago. After I connected to the free hotel Wifi, I connected to ExpressVPN as soon as possible. By connecting to VPN, it makes my browsing experience much better. When I access global websites, like Google and eBay, it will load the US version of those sites, rather than the local language version. When I log into my bank and credit card accounts, I do not get as many fraud warning/notifications, making it quicker to view my accounts. Lastly, when using Hulu or Netflix, most content is blocked if accessed outside the United States – but after connecting to VPN, I was able to stream my favorite shows and movies like I was back home in San Francisco.
If you want to check out ExpressVPN, here is a 30 day free trial (referral link). If you become a paying member, I will get 30 days of free service added onto my ExpressVPN yearly subscription.
Monthly subscriptions start at $12.95 if you use the month-to-month option and go down to $8.32/month if you lock in a yearly subscription. You can have the software and app running simultaneously on a few different devices, which make it great if you have a family or several devices you want to protect at the same time.
If you have any questions about ExpressVPN, please leave a comment below. If you are a current ExpressVPN subscriber, please let me know what your experience has been like. Thank you for reading and have a great day everyone!