How to avoid geo-restrictions when traveling for work

by Jordan Choo

If you travel for an extended period of time, you need to ensure you can access the same documents, websites, and networks you have at home. Whether you are a freelance writer or an international entrepreneur, that access is essential.

Unfortunately, it is not always straightforward. Due to geo-restrictions, many networks and online services block users from accessing their services outside of designated regions. You travel outside of the country for work, and bam, you can’t log on to your company’s network, your bank, or even Netflix.

There are ways to get around geo-restrictions, though. Before you leave for your next business trip, consider some of the following tips that will allow you to bypass geo-restrictions.

Download a VPN

If you are looking for the most reliable way to bypass geo-restrictions, download a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN works by creating a tunnel when you connect your device to any network. To obtain a stable connection and download desired content, your device must send data to and from the connected network. With the tunnel from the VPN, your data is encrypted and secured from the outside world. It is virtually anonymous and impossible to acquire. Without this tunnel, your data is open to anyone seeking access to it.

VPNs have become popular because they’re an excellent security addition. But they’re also ideal for getting around geo-restrictions. Networks know your location through your device’s IP (Internet Protocol) address. This address transmits to the network with the rest of your data, which tells the network where to send the content back to. When there is a geo-restriction, if your IP address is outside of the pool of authorized addresses, you will be denied access to the content. When you use a VPN, the software will mask your IP address, so the network cannot guarantee your location. Furthermore, a VPN can change your IP address altogether. This will fool the network into thinking you are in the required region, when in reality you may not be.

Try using proxies

For a quick and easy way to bypass geo-restrictions, utilize a proxy. Think of a proxy site as a middleman between you and the network. Instead of loading a website yourself, the proxy works for you. The network will then identify the location of the proxy instead of yours. This method is an easy way to gain a bit of anonymity on the internet.

Keep in mind that if you decide to go this route, you will not receive the same type of security features as you would with a VPN. A proxy does not work on major streaming services like Netflix that require you to log in. It’s also important to note that once a proxy site grows in popularity, it typically gets shut down.

Consider a DNS server

A DNS server is similar to proxies, but more sophisticated. A DNS (Domain Name Server) translates IP addresses into domain names so that you can access websites. When we access a website, we type in the domain name. However, a computer needs more information that doesn’t pertain to us, and that is when a DNS comes in.

When you use a DNS server, the software reroutes the data from your device through a different server set up by the DNS (kind of like proxying). The DNS server will be in the region you are required to be in to access the requested content. But note that you still will not have the same security features that you would from a VPN.

If you frequently travel for work, you’ll need something dependable to bypass any geo-restrictions you encounter. Your best option is to use a VPN. Not only will you unlock blocked content, but your connection will be extremely secure.


Image credit: Photo courtesy of Michael Gaida