WIFI on the Road
Running around trying to find a reliable WIFI connection when you are getting ready to miss a work deadline is a nightmare! Let’s be honest, it’s the least “badass” thing about working on a road trip. There’s nothing worse than getting comfortable at a coffee shop to find out their internet is down, so here is some advice that may save you some time and effort!
Yes, it’s cliche and yes you probably do not want to hit up a chain coffee shop but hear me out. When you’re traveling across the country and spending time in National Parks you will find that you are mostly in small towns, some of which have limited wifi access. If you want to see what kind of town you going to be driving through and get a sense of the amenities it will have, see if there is a Starbucks in the town. If I saw there was a Starbucks I knew that there would probably be other WIFI options as well, but at least I would have one solid location that had reliable WIFI.
This location seems obvious but I had to list it. But keeping reading to see why this can be a hit or miss WIFI hotspot.
I didn’t think of this location too late in my trip. Free WIFI, clean restroom with no lines, and a quiet place to work! Perfect. The only downside is that if you need to take a conference call you will have to keep your voice down!
A Hotel Lobby
This may not be worth a trip to get there because more often than not non-guest will not get access. But if you are in a bind and in the area of a hotel it’s worth stopping in to see if they have it for free without being a guest. If you are feeling mischievous you can tell the front desk you lost the WIFI password they gave you at check in and need to quickly log on for a meeting! And hope they slip it to you without asking your room number.
You may not want to eat there, but they more than likely will have reliable WIFI. Here are some popular chains that almost all have free WIFI, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Panera Bread, Chik Filet, Big Boy
Not only can you peruse novels and magazines for free while sipping a latte you can also hook up to their free WIFI!
Check out Borders and Barnes and Noble
Be a multitasker, or not. Even if you don’t need to do laundry most laundromats offer WIFI plus they do not have anyone there to kick you out if you’re not doing laundry. And you don’t need to buy overpriced coffees the whole time!
Parks, city halls, and courthouses are starting to offer free WIFI. I did not test these locations so I would do some research prior to arriving.
Other grocery stores may have WIFI too, but this grocery giant is everywhere and will more than likely have a reliable connection and some good nosh.
Get a free pass as a first-time customer and enjoy a hot shower and free WIFI.
Even if the museum cost money to gain entry you should be able to hang in the museum lobby or coffee shop if they have WIFI. But it doesn’t hurt to get a little culture while you’re there too.
Lesser known on the WIFI radar, I’ve seen some gas stations touting “free WIFI”
Where NOT to expect WIFI
They say they have so-called “WIFI”, but it’s slow and unreliable. You may be able to check your Facebook but do not expect to upload or download files. Or do a Skype call for that matter. You may also have to pay for that super, slow service. Check the Park Service website to see if the park offers WIFI or cell service and if you really want to be sure call the Visitor’s Center and get the skinny on how well the WIFI actually works.
Small Boutique Hotel Rooms
I stayed in a few places that said they had WIFI but it wasn’t in the room, it was in the lobby only. This threw a wrench in my workday routine.
Believe it or not, the place that brought people free WIFI is now becoming an unreliable source. Small mom and pop coffee shops may not offer WIFI or if they do it could be slow or not working. Trendy, hipster coffee shops, like I found in San Franciso and Portland, are so cool that they no longer offer free WIFI to customers! (the nerve) So my advice; on Yelp and their website check to see if they have free WIFI listed. Still not sure, give them a call before you make the trip to visit them.