A VPN for holiday booking savings

How much does it cost to go on holiday? That depends on where you book. It is no longer just a question of what or when you book because the location also makes a difference to the price. What seemed like a random trend to many people is actually a reality and depends on several factors. It is an established fact that there are countries where it is worth booking cruises, flights, hotels, ferries and car hire because you can be sure of spending less money. This has been confirmed by research carried out by NordVPN, a cybersecurity company known for its eponymous VPN service, which hides your IP address for greater privacy and security.

When searching for deals and travel options, using a VPN allows you to access different content and, therefore, different prices, even for the same services. The case raised concerns about Italy and the surcharge that users living there pay for bookings, an increase compared to other countries that can exceed €600 for a single trip.

The Italian case: everything costs more 

According to research carried out between 1 April and 15 April 2024, using multiple simultaneous attempts for identical accommodation sold by the same operator using servers in different countries, Italians are being charged up to 16.42% more than customers in Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria. The most striking case concerns booking an MSC Grandiosa cruise to Salvador, which costs €631 more for those booking online from Italy compared to the same stay purchased through the Bulgarian version of the site. Sleeping in a cabin for 9 nights in South America in December 2024 costs €4,470 in Italy, while a Bulgarian user will pay €3,839 for the same service. However, you don’t have to go to Bulgaria to save money; you just have to choose a virtual private network with servers in Eastern European countries to save more than 14%.

VPN holiday booking

If we change the service, the substance does not change. For a two-week rental of a Peugeot 5008 in Amsterdam in May, booking on Kayak from Italy costs €885. But if the same attempt is made from Slovakia, the cost of the same car for the same period drops to €813. A saving of €72 and an increase of almost 9% for Italian users. The dynamic is repeated with other operators, as with the Sixt car rental service, you can save almost 4% by booking a Chevrolet Blazer for two weeks in May at New York’s JFK airport: €977 for Italy, €941 for Poland. 

The choice of hotel is similarly surprising. For 14 nights between January and February 2025 in Ponte di Legno, a ski resort in the Italian Alps, Booking offers different prices on the Italian and Croatian versions of the site. In the first case, the price of a stay for a couple is €1,796, reduced to €1,669 for those who book by connecting to the Croatian server. This guarantees a saving of 127 euros.

Why prices change

In addition to the number, it is important to consider the reasons for the price differences, as this will help you to make the best use of the VPN to secure lower and lower prices. There is no single factor, and it is not just a matter of marketing campaigns and localised discounts, although these are two important aspects of any booking. The main driver of price variation between countries is the domestic economy, with companies charging higher rates in countries where the average wealth is higher than the norm. Faced with higher costs, users still book because they can afford to spend more on travel, so operators ride the wave to maximise profits.

Another element to consider is currency fluctuation, which changes constantly and sometimes sharply. It is easy to see how exchange rate fluctuations can affect the price of services in certain locations. The third element is the company’s location, as suppliers may offer lower prices in the country of origin. In fact, connecting to the server in the country where the company offering the routes is based is the first rule for securing cheaper fares.

‘Never assume that the price you see is the same as everyone else’s. Companies use all sorts of complex algorithms to adjust for the purchasing power of different countries. That’s why they routinely show different prices on different website domains, which can also vary depending on where you’re from,’ says Marijus Briedis, Chief Technology Officer at NordVPN.

Alessio Caprodossi is a technology, sports, and lifestyle journalist. He navigates between three areas of expertise, telling stories, experiences, and innovations to understand how the world is shifting. You can follow him on Twitter (@alecap23) and Instagram (Alessio Caprodossi) to report projects and initiatives on startups, sustainability, digital nomads, and web3.