OpenVPN and Hotspot Shield offer free or reasonably priced VPN connections. These types of connection are merely a restricted type of VPN where the connection between the device and the server is secured by the provider; after that, data packets escape into the Internet unencrypted. Despite this, at least third parties in the direct vicinity of the hotspot cannot eavesdrop on the network connection. That said, the question remains as to whether the VPN provider handles the information with due care; after all, it can read all the data as plain, unencrypted text.
Public PCs at hotel or Internet cafes can be extremely dangerous to use while on vacation. The computers are often infected with viruses and Trojans that log key strokes (with spyware known as ‘keyloggers’) to intercept your private data. If you absolutely need to transfer sensitive information using such a device, you should take a secure operating system environment with you on a DVD or write-protected USB stick and use this to boot the computer.
The best thing to do is to send as little personal information as possible over an unsecured connection while on vacation. In addition, you should enable the firewall on your device and install the latest version of a security software solution such as Avira Antivirus Pro, Avira Internet Security Suite or Avira Free Antivirus (also available for iOS & Android).