Access to free Wi-Fi while travelling is essential, and when we experienced very limited and unreliable Wi-Fi at our rural housesitting gigs, we found ourselves a little lost without it. For travellers, not only is it important to keep in touch with friends and family back home, but it is also vital for maintaining travel websites and earning an income through freelance work to sustain travelling. Think of how much you rely on Wi-Fi and you can understand our frustration when it wasn’t available.
Unfortunately, not everywhere you go has Wi-Fi access and the cost of having an international SIM for travellers like us can cost way too much, so here are a few tips on where you can find free Wi-Fi while travelling.
Most hotels and hostels nowadays offer Wi-Fi, but there is no guarantee you’re going to have a good connection or that it is available in your own room. This is a deal breaker for us and it doesn’t matter how good the accommodation is, if it doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi in our room, it is crossed off the list. Beware some hotels list that they have free Wi-Fi, but you may be limited to a certain number of hours for each night stayed, so check before you book.
Tip: if you don’t have Wi-Fi at your accommodation, head to a large hotel in the area. Often you can gain access in the foyer or even just out the front of the building. Yes, you do look at little strange with your laptop while hovering out the front of a hotel, but it is a great option if you just need directions on your phone.
Cafés and restaurants
A large majority of cafés and restaurants provide Wi-Fi complementary to their guests. It is not uncommon for us to get comfy in the corner of a café and spend a few hours working. I have even enjoyed dinner solo without the husband and kid to utilise a restaurants Wi-Fi to meet some deadlines. Again, some of these connections are limited per customer and are only extended when you purchase more food. If you have kids, keep your eye out for restaurants with a play area and Wi-Fi. The food is not going to be a culinary delight, but they will give your child a much needed distraction.
Tip: if you are waiting for a train, most chains such as Starbucks are located within a few steps of the station and have a fast connection. Once you have connected to the cafés Wi-Fi once before, you will find you can get a good connection outside the establishment and may not even have to buy a coffee!
Many public transport services offer free Wi-Fi for travellers whilst on their journey. This is particularly handy if you are on a long trip and can be a little productive by getting some work done or writing a few posts for your blog.
Tip: a train connection is more reliable than a bus. If you are on a bus heading through rural areas, there is a high possibility you won’t have a connection for the majority of your trip.
Libraries not only offer a Wi-Fi connection, but also peace and quiet to get some work done. Most cities will have a library so check with the local tourist office. It is also a great place to keep your children occupied while you can be online.
Tip: ask the library for their kids’ activity schedule. You just might be able to combine your working session with a story time or educational activity for the kids.
Many tourist offices provide free limited Wi-Fi that might just be enough for you to check your emails, download some maps and Skype a friend. It won’t be the most comfortable or private place to use the net, but at least it is free and you can be connected!
Tip: a lot don’t advertise they offer Wi-Fi, so make sure you ask. If they don’t have a connection, they can point you to the nearest one.
Travelling no longer means you have to rely on postcards and reverse charge calls to keep in touch with your friends and family. Access to free Wi-Fi while travelling enables you to not only communicate with loved ones, but also gives you the opportunity to offer your services as a freelancer. Just keep in mind when you are in remote areas the Wi-Fi can be a little sketchy!