Finding Free Wi-Fi on the Road

Photo credit: superfem / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: superfem / Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

Staying connected on the road can sometimes be difficult and even frustrating. Bringing all your gear inside a cafe every time you need to get online is a huge pain. Here are some tips on finding free wifi inside the comfort of your camper.

National Chains that offer free Wi-Fi
There are a few national chains that always offer free Wi-Fi, thats signal is storng enough to use from the parking lot:
Starbucks: Generally has the strongest signal of all the places listed.
McDonalds
There are a pile of other chains that you would never expect to offer free Wi-Fi as well. These places normally offer Wi-Fi, but not always:
Corner Bakery Cafes
Denny’s
Dunkin’ Donuts
FedEx: Strong Signal
Whole Foods
Office Depot
Panera: Strong Signal
Caribou Coffee
Tim Hortons
Coffee Bean
Tea Leaf 
Other places
Public libraries: Some will need a passcode, that you can get at the front desk.
Hotels and Motels: Here is a comprehensive list of hotels and motels that offer free Wi-Fi
RV Campgrounds: Here is a comprehensive list of RV Campgrounds that offer free Wi-Fi
Book Stores: Do these still exist? The few still around almost all offer free Wi-Fi
Large truck stops:  Flying J, Love’s, Pilot, and TA all have reliable Wi-Fi
Websites to help you find locations:
  • AnchorFree:The good thing about this site is it only shows the free Wi-Fi Hot spots, so you don’t have to sort through the paid ones.
  • JWire’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder Ok, besides all the ads, this site is awesome. Shows you paid and free Wi-Fi signals based on your location.
  • Believe it or not, Google Maps can help you find free Wi-Fi as well. Go to the “Find Businesses” tab under the search box. Enter “wifi hotspot” in the first box and the address in the next box. It will show you an extensive list of paid and free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Photo credit: xiaming / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: xiaming / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Finding Free Wi-Fi Apps
Jiwire
wefi
Wi-Fi Boosters for Your Computer 
Many people don’t know this, but you can buy a Wi-Fi adapter for your laptop that will help your computer find stronger signals. What is usually two bars becomes four.  For even more help you can get a Wi-Fi antenna that you keep in your camper window. These aren’t as obtrusive as it sounds and you can leave it up permanently.
The Back-up
If you have to Wi-Fi and you can’t locate signal, a back option is getting a 3G dongle, which turns your cell phone into a wifi router. This can be expensive, so i wouldn’t recommend this for everyday use, but is great in a pinch.