I've been on Firefox browser for many years and using Duckduckgo as a browser. Occasionally Duckduck lets me down on a search and I jump to Google for that search. But after you get used to them, I'll not go back to Google products.
As a test, type in 'where am I' in your browser search and see if your location is in the cloud or not.
Aslo even if you use all the precautions, including a VPN (excluding Tor browser) you are leaving a unique, 1 in 420,000 for my setup, 'browser fingerprint' of your phone/computer for tracking. They may not know who or where you are but trackers may have an individual fingerprint and a record of your activity. If interested, take a look at Panopticlick web site and run a test to see your fingerprint and read some of the info.