When you’re traveling on business, you know how important it is to be able to log onto to your PDA or laptop. Thankfully, free hotspots are more widely available than ever – you just need to know where to look. Here’s a list of stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses that offer free connections.Beware of False ConnectionsBefore we offer advice on where to find free wireless connections, it’s important to remember not to do any banking or other sensitive surfing on public sites, if you can help it. Make sure you are logging on to is provided by a legitimate business, and that you are passing through their router. Sometimes, it’s not so easy to tell. There are very devious and smart people out there who can set up their personal routers in a public place, and name them “free Wi-Fi” or something more specific, such as “Mom’s Donuts Wi-Fi” to fool you into logging on through their router. Even more insidious, hackers can create banking and other sensitive websites that look identical to the real thing. So to be safe, avoid banking on public Wi-Fi, and if you have to, look for Wi-Fi’s that are encrypted, so you need a password to log on.Tips for Finding Free Connections
Look for local libraries. No matter what city you’re in, most have a local public library that offers free Wi-Fi. They’re also a nice, quiet place to work.
Wi-Fi and a latte. Starbucks offers free, one-click, unlimited Wi-Fi at all company-owned stores in the U.S., including instant access to the Starbucks Digital Network. It’s a nice place to enjoy the coffee house vibe without feeling rushed. For more information, go to Starbuck’s wireless Internet page.
Hungry? You can eat and find free Wi-Fi at Whole Foods, Panera Bread, Denny’s, McDonald’s, Big Boy, Krystal, and yes, even Hooters.
Most hotels, motels, inns and resorts offer guests free Wi-Fi. For a comprehensive, alphabetized list of national hotel chains that offer free connections, go to wififreespot.com.
Use Boingo to find free Wi-Fi hotspots. Boingo’s app, called the Wi-Finder was named one of Travel & Leisure magazine’s Top 10 Apps of 2010. For around $10.00 a month, Boingo provides unlimited Wi-Fi access for mobile devices and laptops at more than 30,000 free and paid hot spots in north and South America. And for around $35.00 a month, Boingo lets you get Wi-Fi access at more than 200,000 hot spots throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Before Traveling Internationally…
Call your wireless service provider before traveling to discuss where you’re going, and any international calling plans they offer. You may be able to save significantly on voice calls, text messaging and data streaming.
Visit the Federal Communication Commission’s Guide to International Calling from Wireless Providers, VoIP Services and Smartphone Manufacturers for tips, resources and links by the major wireless providers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, in addition to Blackberry, iPhone and Droid/Android smartphones.
To help keep Internet access charges low, XCom Global offers unlimited data usage and the freedom to wirelessly roam abroad at a fixed rate in 195 countries for around $17.00 a month.
Place one of Truphone’s Tru SIM international cards in your AT&T, T-Mobile or other standard cell phone, and you get 100 calling minutes to use in the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands and Australia for about $30.00 a month.