Home TRAVEL TIPS Tricks & Hacks Using a VPN to become a ‘virtual tourist.’

Using a VPN to become a ‘virtual tourist.’

Have you ever thought how handy it might be to exist in two places at once? Leaving aside those who agree with the ‘multiverse’ theory, being in two countries at the same time is possible – at least virtually, by using a VPN (virtual private network).

A VPN can effectively place you anywhere in the world, simply by connecting to the internet from whichever country you choose to appear to be located. You only need two devices connected simultaneously to the web and you can indeed be in two places at once. With your phone and your laptop on the same desk you might be in Mexico for one internet session and in Maine for another, with just one click of a mouse or a tap of a finger.

But why would you wish to do such a thing in the first place, and how does a One-Click VPN achieve this feat? To find out more, first we must examine how your browser connects to any given website.

If IP addresses are the lock…

Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are effectively like phone numbers, they represent connection points to the internet wherever you are in the world.  Just like you would expect when dialing a phone number in New York City, the international code is +1, one of the area codes for NYC is 212 and the following seven numbers in the format xxx-xxxx complete the number. Thus you would easily be able to find out if called from, say, +1 212 6945 231 that the caller is based in New York City somewhere.

Likewise, IP addresses work in much the same way, except they are ‘assigned’ each time you log onto the internet from a given location. These are known as ‘dynamic’ IPs because they change every time you log on to the net from a new location or for a new browser session.

For example, if you log onto the internet from a hotel Wi-Fi in Manhattan, then go to visit a website like ‘What’s my IP’ or similar, your IP address at the time of your current session might likely be shown to be within the range of to That’s because of your geographic location.

However, websites generally use ‘static’ IP addresses for browsers to find them, much like a business in any city would always keep the same landline telephone number. For example, an IP address in Europe such as might appear to be connected to ‘Booking.com’ in Amsterdam; if you could be bothered to look it up.

The only reason that booking.com (or any website business) uses their domain name, instead of their numerical IP, is that it’s very easy to remember booking.com when you want to make a hotel booking. After all, the clue is definitely in the name! However, booking.com in Europe could just as easily call themselves “’ but it’s very unlikely you would remember it. Plus, it would give their marketing team a huge headache!

…browsers are the key.

Many people don’t realize that a browser merely converts the domain address typed into the address bar into numbers. You can find out those numbers behind the browser’s displayed alpha characters by accessing the ‘Command Prompt’ on a Windows computer or ‘Terminal’ on a Mac.

You only need then to type in “ping[space][whatever-website.com]” without the inverted commas, to find out. For example, on this Mac right now, Google is using the IP address at

The ‘ping’ exercise also tells the speed that the browser is communicating with Google, using a protocol called ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol). In this instance, the computer is receiving 64 bytes every 17.665 milliseconds from Google, as you can see below:

64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=60 time=17.665 ms

Of course, 99% of the internet-using population except remote workers in the website marketing and  analytics industry couldn’t give a hoot about all this. They just type ‘Google.com’ into their phone or laptop browser and Hey Presto! That website appears.

That’s because your browser ‘looks up’ the numerical number of your IP behind the words you typed in and connects you. But this is where the VPN comes in so handy.

Avoid streaming restrictions and save money online shopping using a VPN.

A VPN works by instructing your browser to connect to an intermediary server BEFORE the target website is connected. That intermediary server is owned and operated by the VPN provider, and it’s encrypted so that its own IP address either shows it to be in a fictitious location (usually of the session user’s choice) and scrambles the identity of the user account accessing it.

In short, by using a VPN, the artificial intelligence or analytics software of your target website is fooled – it can’t know who you are or where you’re connecting from. Without a VPN, the target website can, in milliseconds, assess exactly who you are from your account username, where you are by your IP address and even what device and browser you’re using.

This VPN location cloak and dagger facility is very useful for several reasons – you can access streaming platforms from a country where access is usually denied. For example, if you’re a resident of Maine on vacation in Mexico, you can instruct your VPN to apparently place you back stateside, then you can still catch up on your favorite Netflix content even though such access is normally denied from outside the US.

A word of warning though, using a VPN to access illegal streaming sites like the one reported in this UK Guardian article –  ‘Jetflix’ – can have serious consequences. It’s not only site owners that can be heavily fined and even imprisoned for accessing copyrighted content illegally.

Likewise, if you head over to a hotel room or flight reseller portal, they detect your IP address and offer higher prices if you’re in a wealthy area. In this instance, you might be in Manhattan, but want to appear as if you’re in Mexico. Watch those prices tumble.

Finally, accommodation portal resellers also tend to make a killing on exchange rates. If you want to book a hotel in Paris, the website will allow you to pay in dollars. But if you look up the same hotel via the same site by accessing that site from France via a VPN browser extension, you’ll find that you can pay in Euros (the host business’s currency) and the exchange rate provided by your credit card will almost certainly be more advantageous.

Closing your session

In summary, now you have a basic understanding of IP addresses and how VPNs can manipulate them, you can stay safe online; especially away from hackers – who target IP addresses directly. You can also now access international content and save money into the bargain.

What’s not to like?!