If you’ve got friends abroad or can team up with other journalists around the world, it can be quite simple to host your own set of VPNs, Most good routers can do this, or you can configure an old PC. That way, if you trust the people concerned you don’t have to worry about who’s keeping logs or running covert surveillance within the VPN provider, and provided you’ve already got the broadband connection and the equipment there’s no additional cost to anyone.
I run a VPN on my home router, which I use when I’m stuck with public wifi or in hotels, and a few pals abroad have access for when they need to be virtually in the UK. The only downside is that the Chinese keep trying to hack it (I used it to watch Doctor Who on a press trip to China and I guess they were taking a keen interest) , but they’re not very imaginative and the router firmware is both open source nd up-to-date, so there are no known vulnerabilities there for them to exploit. Another issue is what happens if my pals do anything risque on myIP address - but against that, having four or five completely independent users on my broadband connection is a great way to confuse automatic surveillance.Anything that assumes that my IP address = me will just get it wrong.