I've been trying to wrap my brain around VPNs for a while now, but can't find a good source that answers the questions I have.
In particular, I can't understand why browsing from a public access point is more secure while logged into a VPN than not. It's my understanding that a VPN encrypts and routes traffic from the computer to the access point, across the Internet, to the VPN server, where queries are then directed to the appropriate destinations; responses then follow the trail in the opposite direction (Please correct me if this is a misunderstanding.)
Where exactly is the danger in not doing this? That is, why are my packets less secure originating from the public access point than they are from home? They still travel to the same destinations across the same Internet, and are likely going to be locally routed by the same ISP.
(There's something that seems like a good answer to this question here, but if I'm understanding it correctly, then it seems that all the articles touting the inviolable security of public browsing while logged into a VPN are misinformed.)