Tablets are great when at home, office, or school, but getting an Internet connection when traveling is a bit more difficult. TabletPCReview is here to help with suggestions on how to find WiFi when on the go, without having to pay for it.
There are number of applications that point out where nearby Wi-Fi hotspots can be found. Most of these don’t require an Internet connection to work so they can be pre-loaded on a tablet, but a better method is to install one on a companion smartphone.
One of the best ways is to pick a hotel that offers free WiFi. In the U.S. these are quite common, as these days even budget hotels have it.
However, this is a feature that more expensive hotels will sometimes charge for. Not always though, and some offer a tiered system, with a slow internet connection available for free, and a high-speed one being $15 a day or more.
In Europe, very few hotels of any stripe offer free WiFi. Some places have it as an option for 13€ to 20€ a day. Other hotels will point guests to an internet cafe up the street which charge by the hour.
Ships, Planes, and Trains
Free WiFi is a rarity on cruises; passengers generally have to pay for it. And the prices can be quite high: buying access for an entire cruise can cost several hundred dollars. About the best thing that can be done about this is to look for free hotspots in ports of call, where at least it’ll be possible to get caught up on email or download a new ebook.
Many large airlines offer WiFi on domestic and international flights… for a fee, of course. One service charges $16 for a pass that covers 24 of travel. Some airports do have free WiFi, but others charge for it.
Surprisingly, many trains offer free WiFi as a bonus extra. This is especially true in the Northeast Corridor.
A great many restaurants offer free WiFi, but the more expensive a restaurant is, the less likely it is to offer this service.
There are over 11,500 McDonald’s that have it for free — and that extends around the world. Other companies that usually have free WiFi include Krystal Burger King, Denny’s, Wendy’s, and Krispy Creame.
A great many independently-owned restaurants make WiFi available to their customers as well. This is often advertised on their marquees.
Coffee Shops and Bookstores
Coffee shops set off the trend of offering free WiFi to their customers, and virtually every Starbucks store around the world has it.
Most independent bookstores also have free Wi-Fi… generally in their coffee shops. So does Barnes & Noble. These are great places to sit down and work for a few hours.
A surprising array of other places offer free WiFi these days. This includes a handful of gas stations, highway rest stops, and travelers oases. Many state parks have a hotspot for guests, and some tour buses do too.
Many public libraries have WiFi as well, although these are generally only to those who have a library card. Still, it could be an option if for those who are visiting relatives.
More Permanent Options
The solutions already discussed are probably fine for those who travel once or twice a year, but if people who are frequently on the road should really consider something that’s not so piecemeal. Something they can count on.
Most smartphones can share their cellular-wireless data connections with other devices over Wi-Fi. It’s necessary to be signed up for a data plan that allows this, however.
A portable hotspot from a wireless carrier is another option. These are stand-alone accessories that turn cellular-wireless data into WiFi. This is an easy, flexible solution but it’s also one of the most expensive options on this list.
Perhaps the easiest option is to get a tablet with cellular-wireless access built right in. Many models are available with this, including the Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro and iPad mini 4, many Samsung models, and some Windows tablets. Just be aware, this typically adds $100 – $130 to the price of the tablet.