There used to be a time when going on vacation meant being totally disconnected, unplugged, and unreachable from jobs, friends, and life back home. Those days are in the past, as technology has evolved to the point where even on vacations, we cannot afford to completely leave our lives behind. Now, even when we travel, we rely on the internet to keep us updated and informed on our life back home. The internet has become part of our travel experience, from updating our social media accounts, checking our email, or even watching our favorite shows, these activities have become second-nature, and in many ways can enhance our much-needed vacation time.
The internet indisputably improves many travelers’ experience abroad, therefore many tourists rely on the internet to help guide them through their vacations. But what happens when the country someone is visiting has government-implemented restrictions on the internet? Popular tourist destinations, such as such as China, Tunisia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and many more have extraordinarily strict governmental censorship put in place to block and restrict many popular websites commonly used in other countries. This censorship extends from individual URLs, specific domains, to entire IP addresses. This means governments have the power to block something as simple as an image they deem inappropriate, to censoring entire websites and apps.
There are many countries that are simultaneously becoming more popular amongst tourists, yet still have heavily regulated internet censorship. One of these countries is China – even though China has an active social media industry, the country still has extremely strict censorship methods that will manage to block many IPs, filter searches and will even go as far as to erase content or reroute queries from government restricted content to pro-China websites. This blockade on the internet, is more commonly referred to as the Great Firewall of China, not to get confused with the Great Wall of China, the Great Firewall can severely limit the spread of information.
Traveling to Vietnam?
Another country that is growing in tourism popularity is Vietnam The Southeast Asian country received 10 million tourists in 2016 due to the country’s incredible views, beaches, and resorts.
Nevertheless, the incredible views Vietnam has major restrictions on their internet accessibility. The way their internet accessibility works is that the Vietnamese government grants its citizens access to common websites like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft’s MSN. However, popular social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all blocked. Additionally, they have the power to block any websites that have anti-government or anti-communist propaganda. These blocked websites also fall under the umbrella category of human rights, free speech, and dialogue of a democratic government.
The prime minister of Tunisia expects tourist visits to reach 8 million for all of 2018, even though Tunisia is a beautiful country filled with beachfront properties, amazing cuisine, and unique culture.
A vacation in Tunisia?
Tunisia also has its fair-share of internet restrictive laws. The country is far more interested in blocking bloggers from uploading content than it is in preventing its citizens from viewing banned materials. Internet service providers must report all bloggers to the government including their names, personal information and addresses. The bloggers and reporters who are caught posting anti-government or anti-military content are often jailed. Not many of the citizens even have access to the internet (less than 40%) and those who are lucky enough to have access are restricted to internet cafes. The citizens’ internet connection is all monitored since all connections are routed through a central server point where content is filtered. As you can imagine if this strict government has harsh rules and regulations on the information that its tourists and citizens can view while in Tunisia. This can be an issue for many tourists who won’t have access to even the most common websites.
The countries with strict internet regulations and limited access often leave travelers discovering that the sites in which they visit regularly, and require for daily communication, such as Gmail, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. cannot be accessed while abroad. They find themselves unable to send important emails, texts, or post to any social media sites. A common solution to this well-known and inconvenient travel conundrum is to get a secure, personal portal to the internet, A.K.A a VPN. This allows travelers to access sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. without worrying about geographical restrictions that are put in place by national governments.
A VPN is like your own personal connection to the internet, it offers an anonymous IP address from another country. It does many crucial things in order to keep you safe and secure when online in a foreign country. One of those things is data encryption. What this means is encrypting all your online data so that no one can grab your communication from the air waves. Additionally, a VPN offers protection from other people stealing your important data, like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, browser cookies, and other identifying information. A VPN can also help you save money on your travels, it can help you purchase cheaper plane tickets, this is because domestic tickets bought in-country are often cheaper than if they were bought abroad. For example, if you want to buy a ticket from, to or within China on a Chinese airline, but you are currently in New York City. A VPN will allow you to access the Chinese airlines website by making it seem like you’re in China buying a Chinese airline ticket.