Looking for free or cheap Wi-Fi while traveling? Thankfully there are a number of ways to get it now. And while cheap wireless Internet isn’t available everywhere, it is easier than ever to plan ahead for your connectivity needs.
Let’s start with airports. Several airports offer free Wi-Fi some or all of the time. (Just don’t be fooled by, or sign in to, a network with the SSID “Free Public WiFi”) The site Wi-Fi FreeSpot offers a directory showing airports with free access around the country. Don’t see your airport on there? Remember that last year Google and others sponsored free airport Wi-Fi at several locations for the holiday season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again this year starting some time in November.
What about on the plane? A ZNF friend recently posted on the travel site Upgrd about a deal from Gogo on in-flight Internet access. While Gogo normally charges a fee of $12.95, if you’re heading across the country on a red-eye, the company offers a “FlightNite Pass” for only $5.95. You know, in case you’re not planning to sleep anyway.
Once you’re grounded, there are the standard free hotspot locations to look for, and the options are expanding all the time. Starbucks is always a good bet. You can also cozy up to a Cosi, a Panera, or even (in many cases) a McDonalds. Several ISPs also offer free access to their own hotspots while you’re on the go. On the east coast, Comcast just radically expanded available Xfinity hotspots in the New Jersey and Philadelphia regions.
If all else fails, and you still need connectivity, there’s always that credit card in your wallet and a hotel lobby nearby. Or you can plan ahead and get a USB modem with a 3G or WiMAX subscription. Clearwire is launching 4G WiMAX service in several new cities (New York, LA, San Francisco) before the end of the year. I loved my service when I had it, but I’ll admit, I dropped the subscription recently. Why? There’s a lot of free Wi-Fi out there.