Today I learned that the average American subscribes to four streaming video subscription services. That makes me an above-average American, with a grand total of seven streaming services. To complicate matters further, I am an American living in Australia, and the movies and shows I can access change drastically depending on what side of the Pacific Ocean I’m on. This is routinely frustrating, but as I’ve traveled across continents, I’ve developed a few ways to watch my shows no matter where I am. If you love to travel but don’t love missing out on your favorite content, make use of these tips.
Get a VPN, Which You Should Already Have Anyway
Most streaming services restrict their content according to location, which means that a show or movie you can watch in one country may not be available in another. Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are a great way to mask where you are when you’re navigating your favorite websites. We’ve shared before about how vital they are for security, and we also recommended some great ones that you can check out.
But VPNs aren’t just ideal for privacy; they help you explore streaming platforms without the sites knowing where you’re located. In many cases, you can specify which country you want to appear to be coming from, so if a show you like is available only to American audiences, for example, you can use your VPN to convince the streaming service that you’re in the US. This unlocks a huge variety of shows and movies that are location-locked and inaccessible on a non-VPN connection.
When choosing a VPN, look for features like speed and reliability. You don’t want to lose your connection mid-binge, or worse, have a viewing experience that’s made entirely of buffering and stalled screens. We recommend using a VPN anyway, since it will help protect you and your data on any network you use, but when trying to keep up with your current favorite series on the road, a VPN is a godsend. You can even use it to try out content in other countries and see shows you may never have considered watching.
Check YouTube, It Might Surprise You
Sometimes, there’s a show I really want to watch, but I just can’t find it on any streaming service. I’ll check all the services I can think of, even the ones I don’t currently subscribe to, but it won’t be there. When this happens, I usually give up, but before I do I’ll check YouTube, just in case.
YouTube is an outstanding resource for everything from how-to videos to critical book reviews, but it’s not generally a reliable source for hard-to-find shows. Once in a while, though, I’ll stumble on a few episodes or even an entire season of something that I couldn’t find anywhere else. You can sometimes find old shows, long-lost shows that no other services picked up, even previously unseen episodes on YouTube if you’re willing to take the time to search for them.
And it does take time. You might have to tweak your search terms a few times to find what you want. Also, be warned: Depending on the circumstances, the content you’re watching may not be of the highest quality. There might be video or sound issues, or the show itself might be incomplete. But if you are desperate to find a show that just doesn’t exist elsewhere, there’s no reason not to check YouTube. You might get lucky. Oh, and if you’re a YouTube Premium subscriber, you can even download some videos for viewing while you travel. Same with a few other streaming services, like Netflix.
Adapt to Your Location and Discover New Favorites
Living in other countries has challenged me when it comes to watching the shows I already love, but it has also opened up a whole new world of streaming entertainment opportunities. Here in Australia, I’ve lost myself in shows like Lego Masters and The Block, titles I’m certain I never would have discovered had I not lived here. Locally produced shows and movies can offer a delightfully entertaining window into local culture, and you might find a new catalog of content that you can’t live without.
You can start by checking out local television. These days, it’s almost nostalgic to watch “regular TV,” complete with commercials, but it can be an easy way to access what the people around you are watching. You can also check out streaming services that are specific to the country you’re in. Three of my current streaming services are Australia-based: 9Now, Stan. and iview. Many of them also carry content from the US and the UK for an even broader viewing experience. I can watch The Office and Australian-rules football with the same app.
If you’re away from your home country, you can use a VPN or YouTube to access your favorite, familiar content, but you should also delve into local shows that you might not have considered. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in your country of choice, and it might lead you to a wealth of entertainment that you never knew about. At the very least, it’ll give you something to talk about with local residents when you’re down at the pub.