This is my NordVPN review for digital nomads and travelers based on my personal experience of using it over the last 5 years. I’ll be looking at core features, levels of data security and privacy, ease of setup, and other key features that put it ahead of other paid VPN services.
NordVPN has kept me safe online since I started using it during my travels in 2017. When I first started travelling, I heard that VPNs were essential if you’re using public wifi, as those networks have low security and can easily be tapped into. I’ve never had issues with hackers, credit card fraud, or any other data breaches on my devices in all my time traveling – and I use a ton of free wifi at airports and cafes.
Every time I hear of friends mysteriously losing money out of their bank accounts, I ask if they’re using a VPN while they’re online, and the answer is invariably “no”. So I’m hoping this article will shed some light on why VPNs are essential if you’re traveling, or even just working remotely at your local cafe!
Why NordVPN is the best VPN for digital nomads, remote work, and travel
NordVPN is my personal choice of VPN due to it’s robust security and data policies, constant upgrades, reasonable pricing, and the fact it doesn’t slow my internet connection speeds down like some of the other VPNs out there. When you’re looking at best VPNs for digital nomads, this should be at the top of your list.
It has all the key features I need, and unblocks the websites and streaming services that I use regularly if I’m in a country where they don’t allow access.
Security features like DNS leak protection, automatic kill switch, double VPN security, a no-log policy, and proxy extensions for browers are all included with your plan. And NordVPN lets you pay with Bitcoin too (if you haven’t sold it all by now).
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a “virtual private network” – which is an encrypted connection on the internet from your device to a network that gives you private internet access. This encrypted connections ensures all the data from your laptop, phone, and browsing habits are kept safe. Nobody can snoop on your traffic, which means you eliminate the constant risk of data breaches every time you go online.
You can imagine your VPN functioning like a secret tunnel where the data from your work and online browsing can safely flow back and forward. This means you’re always secure – even if the public wifi network you’re using isn’t.
VPNs also keep your online activity hidden. This means other people can’t see which websites you’ve been to, or how many hours of cat videos you’ve been watching instead of doing work. Your location also stays private, as you can connect to servers anywhere around the world.
So technically if you lived in the USA and wanted to, hypothetically, sneak off to Bali to work for a month, you could connect to any USA server and pretend like you’re still working from home, even though you’re thousands of miles away getting a tan and sipping an icy Bintang on the beach. Mmmm……
Why is a VPN is essential for travelers and digital nomads?
A VPN like NordVPN is a necessity for travel of any kind, and especially if you travel full time and rely on free or public wifi to do your work.
When I was at the Running Remote conference in 2019, one of the speakers talked about data security and how so many nomads completely overlooked the one thing that could destroy their travels, career, livelihood, cashflow, etc – and that was keeping their data secure.
It was sobering listening. And judging by the alarmed looks of some of the people sitting close by, it’s not something they’d given much (or any) thought to as they casually asked for yet another wifi password at yet another cafe.
And the thing is, it’s so SUPER easy to use a VPN to protect your privacy online that it should be a no-brainer. It’s just about creating more awareness for nomads that VPNs are a) a thing that exists, and b) essential for your safety so that nobody can snoop around and find passwords and logins for everything.
Watch this 1 minute video to learn more about why you need a VPN:
The benefits of using a VPN when you travel
When I started traveling, I quickly realized that a lot of websites were blocked. In Indonesia, for example, I couldn’t access the course material I needed, or webinars that I wanted to attend, because those platforms were geoblocked.
NordVPN can help you get around these blocks quickly and easily by connecting to a server outside the country that you’re staying in.
Other benefits of using a service like NordVPN include:
- You can find cheaper flights and cheaper accommodation by logging in from servers in countries that offer better deals to the same places. #budget hack!
- Makes any wifi network completely safe to use
- Log into your home or work network from anywhere in the world
- Ad blocking
- Gives you an extra layer of security when you pay for things or order anything online with your credit card
- Safely download torrents
- Identity theft protection
- Prevent DDOS attacks if you’re a gamer
- IP address protection
- No country censorship
- No bandwidth limits
- Faster internet speeds
- Connect up to 6 devices to keep them safe at the same time
What to look for when you choose a VPN service
When you’re trying to decide between NordVPN and the range of other paid VPNs on the market, you’ll need to look carefully at what your needs are for work and leisure while you use the internet – and then compare them with each VPN’s feature set.
Some VPNs will have a ton of features you might not need, and some might not have the exact features you want. Read everything carefully before you make the decision to sign up.
The difference between free and paid VPNs
There are free VPN services out there that you can use if you’re budget conscious. But there’s always a downside to free stuff!
Paid VPN services like NordVPN make the money they need to continue their business and upgrade their software from user subscription fees. But free VPNs need to generate the income they need to survive in other ways. Often you’ll find bandwidth and functionality are limited – and a few of these services also compromise on essential privacy and security features to help them make money.
For the cost of a few dollars a month, opting for a paid VPN is worth every cent.
Let’s take a look at NordVPN’s most popular features:
- It’s compatible with Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Linux
- Unblocks Amazon Prime video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu
- There’s a 30-day trial so you can check it out before opting in to a longer plan
- Can get you faster internet speeds
- Uninterrupted streaming
- Strict no-log data policy
- It has 5,200 servers in 60 countries around the world
- You can connect 6 devices to one account at the same time
- One-click encryption when you connect on your mobile
- Blocks ads and malware
- 24/7 customer support
- Priced from only $3.67 per month!
- Unblock websites that you can’t access from your country
- Military grade encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- DNS leak testing
- Onion over VPN
- Split tunneling
- Dedicated IP address
- VPN apps for your various devices
- Proxy extensions for browsers
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT NORDVPN
Is NordVPN safe to use?
If you’re searching online and wondering if NordVPN is trustworthy, the answer is yes!
NordVPN is a world-class provider which launched in 2012. It now has over 5,000 servers around the world, and has next-gen security and data privacy features. So like, your data is as safe as houses (which literally makes no sense, but makes you feel safer anyway).
It’s one of the most safe and secure VPNs on the market, which is why I use it myself, and I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone else that’s looking at how to ensure they keep their personal data safe as a digital nomad or remote worker.
Is NordVPN compatible with my devices?
Yep – NordVPN is compatible with all of the most common devices, operating systems, and connection tools, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, proxy, NAS, and routers.
How many devices can I connect to NordVPN?
With one NordVPN account, you can connect up to six devices at the same time. A total of five devices can be connected to any one server at the same time, using HTTP proxy, SOCKS5, NordLynx, OpenVPN TCP, or OpenVPN UDP. If you’re using more than one device simultaneously on your account, you can connect it to another NordVPN server using any protocol.
If you’re traveling with more than six devices, you can set up your own router using Nord. The router will use one device slot – but it means that every other device you connect will be protected with your NordVPN account.
Can I watch Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon from anywhere with NordVPN?
Yes – NordVPN unblocks a ton of websites, streaming services, and apps, meaning you can use them from any country in the world, no matter what the country’s viewing restrictions are.
- Chat apps
Phew! That’s a lotta stuff!
Does NordVPN work in China?
NordVPN is one of the only VPNs that can get around the “Great Firewall of China” – so if you’re planning to visit China at any point, this should be your first option when you’re choosing the best VPN for your needs.
When you use NordVPN during your stay in China, simply connect to one of the “obfuscated servers” in your dashboard. This means that NordVPN will automatically ensure your traffic looks like regular encryption to get around the government blocks that are in place.
Where are NordVPN’s server locations?
Everywhere! NordVPN has 5,281 servers in 60 countries around the world. This means that wherever you are, you can find a close server to give you the fastest speeds while keeping your data secure at the same time.
With one click, NordVPN can connect you to the best server for wherever you are – or you can manually connect to a server of your choice.
How does NordVPN protect my online privacy, device, and data security?
You’re always secure online when you use this VPN, because NordVPN routes all your website traffic and browsing through their own high-security servers.
Why should I protect my IP address when I travel?
There are lots of reasons you need to protect your IP address. When you’re traveling, it prevents data tracking across all of the places you visit. Using a VPN means that the only thing your ISP can see is that you’re connected to their network – not where you are, what you’re looking at, or what you’re searching for online.
Does NordVPN keep logs of my online activity?
NordVPN is one of the leading providers that offers a strict “no-log” policy. This means they don’t collect or store any data about you or your online activity when you’re using their VPN service. So you might just get away with that overseas trip after all *winky face*
If VPN providers don’t offer this feature, then you might be substituting one problem for another, with different security and privacy risks.
Will NordVPN slow my internet speed and performance down?
NordVPN can sometimes cause a drop in speed. If you connect to the closest available to you through their OpenVPN UDP setting, you might experience around a 30% loss when you check your speed test results.
To get around this, simply use the NordLynx protocol which will keep your speed fast and stable.
I personally haven’t noticed any major speed problems using NordVPN. If I feel things are taking a little too long to load, I just switch to a different server and that generally fixes things fast.
How do I set up and use NordVPN on my devices?
Here’s an example of a setup walkthrough for Windows:
NordVPN plans and pricing
If you’re price shopping, it might look like NordVPN is pretty expensive in comparison to some of the other services that you’re looking at. But they’re not the most expensive either!
And if you’re a freelancer or business owner, remember that you can write all your VPN expenses off at tax time, as they’re a necessary part of your business!
I find that NordVPN delivers plenty of value for the price. And if you take the free trial and love it – signing up for a longer term plan (such as one or two years) will make things exponentially cheaper per month.
If you pay per month it will cost you $11.95. A one-year plan will drop this down to the equivalent of $4.92 a month (less than half price) – and a two year plan will reduce this even further to $3.71 a month, which saves you 68% on the month-to-month plan, and makes it a literal bargain for the features you get.
Nord VPN free trial
If you’re almost sold on NordVPN for your data security, you’ll be pleased to know they have a sweet free trial and money-back guarantee. You’ll get a full refund, no questions asked, if you cancel any plan within 30 days of sign up. This means you can try out all the features NordVPN offers, at zero risk to your budget.
NordVPN customer reviews
The world’s most popular YouTubers such as PewDiePie, Casey Neistat, and Philip DeFranco trust NordVPN with their data security and privacy. Considering they’re some of the most hacked people on the planet, this might sell you on this service by itself!
If you’re like me, you’ll do a lot Googling reviews before you decide on the VPN that’s right for you. And you’ll find that most of NordVPNs reviews are pretty positive when compared with their competition.
Pros of NordVPN
- Fast internet speeds
- AES-256 encryption
- Over 5,200 servers in 60 countries
- Total privacy with strict no-logs of your online activity
- 6 simultaneous device connections
- Internet kill switch
- Unblocks most popular streaming media sites
- Torrents and P2P transfers are permitted
- Built-in malware and ad blocking
- One of the few VPNs that works in China
- Apps to easily run Nord VPN on your devices
- Specialty servers e.g. Onion over VPN and Double VPN
- Prevents DDOS attacks
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30 day money-back guarantee
Cons of NordVPN
- Some country servers can experience slow speeds
- Torrenting is supported only on specific servers
- The OpenVPN configuration might not be user-friendly for some people
- Occasional VPN connection drops
NordVPN review for digital nomads and travel – why it’s my personal choice as the best VPN in 2021
I work online, so having a secure VPN service is necessary to give me peace of mind that I can protect myself and my clients’ data. I’ve used other VPNs in the past such as TunnelBear and ExpressVPN, but I stuck with NordVPN because the connection speeds were faster, and they have great support that ensures any of my questions or problems are dealt with swiftly.
As a full-time digital nomad and freelancer that travels with my partner (who’s also a freelancer) – NordVPN means we can connect all of our multiple devices on one account. We use a bunch of Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices for work and travel – so NordVPN makes it a breeze to connect all of these different operating systems at once.
I’ve found NordVPN can also give me crazy speed increases when my Airbnb speeds are lagging, and streaming connections are always stabilised when the VPN is on. While many reviews say NordVPN slows things down for them, I’ve never found that to be the case when I use it.
I also love that it’s super affordable on a long-term plan. I’m ridiculously frugal, so I try to get the cheapest deals possible on any recurring software plans. This ensures that my dollars go further and I can spend them on things I love (coffee and smoothies) rather that software I don’t love so much…but is also essential to keep me safe while I travel.
- 7 best VPNs for digital nomads, travel, and remote work
- Travel safety tips for digital nomads – how to keep yourself and your gear safe
- The best Reddit channels for digital nomads
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Rachael is a full-time digital nomad and freelance copywriter for B2B and SaaS companies. She’s worked with brands like Unbounce, Biteable, Datacom, Viddyoze, and Owler.
Ready to travel?
- TRAVEL TIPS AND RESOURCES
- Find cheap flights
I use Kayak, Skyscanner, and Expedia to find the best deals on flights. This often means flying late night or early morning – so if you’re working remotely, make sure you plan around this.
- Book accommodation
I always use Booking.com for my first stop in any city. These tend to be hotels, so it’s easy for your taxi or Uber drive to find them, which is a huge relief if you arrive in a strange city at 3am after a 19-hour flight and just want to sleeeeeep. For longer stays, I use Airbnb (always, always filter these listings by superhosts and make sure to read the reviews before you book), Hostel World to book budget stays, and VRBO (the new challenger to Airbnb – way less fees and great accommodation options),
If you’re a pet lover, you can stay FREE in a local house anywhere in the world with Trusted Housesitters. I’ve used this a couple of times and it was awesome. If you travel long term and miss the companionship of fluffy friends – borrowing other people’s pets (and saving $$$$ on accommodation at the same time) is a huge win.
If you need a rental car, I recommend RentalCars.com or Kayak to find the cheapest options and compare companies.
- Travel Insurance
Yes. You need it. I recommend both SafetyWing and World Nomads to keep you and your gear protected. These companies have monthly policies specifically for digital nomads and long-term travellers. I’m currently using SafetyWing, as it’s one of the only companies that covers travellers for COVID-related issues right now.
- Book a tour
I’m not big on guided tours, but I check out Get Your Guide and Viator to find must-see places in every new city I go to. If you love tours, these are the two top sites to search for and book tours around the world.
- Luggage storage
Stuck in that awkward zone between two accommodation points – or waiting all day for a flight? Stasher has 1,000 locations in 250 countries that you can store your luggage in while you go out and do fun stuff. Because carrying everything you own with you all day is not fun.