Nerds On Call Computer Repair – FREE Wifi by Karen V Bryan

You can find free WiFi just about anywhere, particularly if you plan ahead and know where to look. Here’s how to stay productive, or kill some time surfing the net, when you’re on the go.

Search It: From Panera to McDonalds to Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, getting online for free in a metropolitan area is just a matter of driving down the street. If you’re on unfamiliar terrain, check the comprehensive list of free WiFi options posted on WiFiFreeSpot. Start with the huge list of multi-location chain stores that offer free WiFi nationwide, or select your state for an alphabetical city list of individual providers.

Quiet Place: Many libraries offer free WiFi – not to mention a quiet atmosphere to enjoy it – or hop online at one of the hundreds of airports that offer free Internet across the country. Click on the “Airports with Free Wi-Fi” link on WiFiFreeSpot’s homepage for an alphabetical list by state, as well as tips to avoid hidden fees. For example, avoid networks named “Free Public WiFi” in airports as it’s likely a fake, unsecure network set up to siphon personal info from unsuspecting travelers.

Unexpected Hot Spots: Free WiFi is available in many unexpected locations. Several bus lines now offer free WiFi, including Megabus and Bolt, as does Amtrak. Many Laundromats are adding WiFi hotspots to make waiting on your laundry more bearable and gyms often provide free WiFi to let you surf while on the treadmill. You may even find a free hookup where you get your oil changed or in the courthouse when you’re stuck with jury duty. Call ahead to confirm availability, or if you’re in a major metropolitan area check out to search by address or zip code.

Hotel WiFi: When it comes to finding a hotel with free WiFi, going with a budget or smaller chain is a better choice than a luxury brand. You may think paying more for the room will get you more perks, but many of the “high-end” places (like Hyatt, Marriott, Waldorf-Astoria, Crowne Plaza, etc) charge $10 or more per night for Internet while their “budget” brands (like Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn, Hyatt Place, etc) offer it for free. Check out the annual report released by Hotel Chatter for a list of best and worst hotel WiFi by cost and reliability.

Be a Part of the In Crowd: Being part of the “in-crowd” can also save you a bundle. Airline priority clubs and hotel loyalty programs often provide free WiFi to members. While some of these programs require a minimum number of stays or miles traveled, many offer free Internet access upon sign-up. Use a program like iStumbler for Mac or WeFi for Windows to plan ahead for WiFi near your destination. WeFi, for example, has an exhaustive list of millions of hotspots around the world, even in places you wouldn’t expect like rural areas. They also have an app you can download to your iPhone or Android for hotspot searches on-the-go.

App It: Foursquare devotees can take advantage of the affiliated free app 4sqwifi (available for iOS devices through the iTunes app store). It shows nearby venues which offer Wi-Fi and their passwords, anywhere in the world. Wifi Tracker is a good option for Android users ($1.56 through Android Store). It uses Google Earth to pinpoint your current location and show free Wi-Fi in your area.

If you subscribe to cable Internet, you may have access to their WiFi hotspots around town. Some companies even partner with other cable providers to extend their network. Check with your cable company for availability.

Finally, try asking for the WEP password if your mobile device finds a network you’d like access to. Many shop owners are happy to oblige.