In this day and age, staying connected is a must. Cell phones and laptops are not mere conviences but necessary tools for most of us. We need digital access, yes, even when we are traveling. One thing that has made life (and the data plan) manageable has been finding free wifi options while on the road. Here are 25 places to find free wifi on the road if you need to make a connected pitstop.
Travel Hack: Know Where To Find Free WiFi On The Road
Recently I found myself scouring the internet for reliable info: I needed to find free wifi internet locations on the road so I could work while traveling.
The beauty of my job as a travel agent and blogger is availability and mobility. I’m available as long as I have my phone and a healthy data plan, even when I’m flying or riding along as a passenger in the car.
When a job comes up, you bet I’m going to find a way to work it.
Because: money. I like it. I know you feel me here!
It allows me to travel, to see new places, to buy things… to eat. So, you know, I think money is kinda a good thing.
A few weeks ago, I was offered a social media job that required me to be online for a couple of hours at the same time that I was planning to road trip to California. I was driving by myself and clearly texting and driving was not the solution.
Not to mention that I didn’t want to use my valuable data in a situation like this. I hoard my data for important trips where wifi is not available. Like Disneyland. (Oh, you read that correctly. While there is no wifi at the Disneyland parks, there is free wifi at the Disneyland hotels. What the ever loving Mickey is going on there?! But I digress…).
I wanted the job. I loved the company and loved the work! And who doesn’t want money, amirite? But I also really needed to be on the road at the same time. I didn’t have the flexibility to put off the travel for a better time.
Before I turned down the opportunity, I tried to figure out how I could make this work. Free wifi was clearly the best solution, but where could I find free wifi on the road?
My plan was to stop, set up the laptop, complete the job, and have a little lunch at the same time. I’d be a multitasking genius.
My first thought was Starbucks. That was the obvious choice as there’s a Starbucks just about everywhere (especially in California with a whopping 1,863 locations) and I’d never been in one that didn’t offer stable wifi.
This could work. I’d get my cake (pop) and eat it too.
Off to research my options!
Boom. The perfect answer was the Starbucks in Blythe, California, right off I-10. It was about midway between my house and my final destination and would make a caffeinated/clean bathroom/free wifi stop that met all my needs.
Problem solved, right? I ran it past a few friends before accepting the job.
One friend told me I was crazy. Another reminded me that I was putting all my eggs in one green and white basket. Good point. I decided it was a good idea to have a backup location and to give myself plenty of time to stop, just in case the wifi wasn’t working, or some other issue popped up.
I started googling the locations around that particular city and found a few more chains that are offering wifi across the country. Who knew? I sure didn’t. There’s more to free wifi out there than Starbucks!
25 Places To Find Free WiFi On The Road
This list isn’t exhaustive or all inclusive (some chains offer wifi at all locations, some do not), so I encourage you to verify that your proposed location will provide the service. I checked my Starbucks online and also gave them a quick call to make sure all was working before I solidified my plans.
And yes, I felt silly calling them, but there was a job riding on this. I can imagine #alltheeyerolls going on when I asked my questions.
Yes, we have wifi… yes, it works just fine… yes it will be no problem for you to work here… yes, we have cake pops…
Wut. I like cake pops.
Something to remember: public wifi, while free, does come with some safety concerns. Be careful when using public connections and be mindful of what you access while on the free networks. You may not want to check that bank account or pay the credit card while logged in, for example.
Here are a few in case you are also looking for a location to work from while on the road.
Chick Fil A
Buffalo Wild Wings
Also available on the road, but a little harder to work from, are retailers. In a pinch, you can stop in the parking lot, connect to wifi, and work until your job is complete.
Retailers that offer open and free wifi include:
And if you find you are a quart low on oil and need the wifi? Jiffy Lube is your place.
The good news for traveling telecommuters like me, travel doesn’t mean you have to stop working.
Well, while you’re driving, of course. Working while driving is no bueno, people! But you have options if you must stop while on the road.
A few other ideas came to me in this quest for a mobile working environment.
I considered hotel options since many offer free wifi in the public areas. Don’t worry; I’d be fully transparent as to why I was camped in the lobby and ask if it was ok first. It didn’t come to that, but I practiced my winning smile and mastered the please-help-me-I’m-desperate-but-harmless look, just in case.
While I was driving, I thought about another possibility. Many small cities and municipalities are adding wifi to the local parks and libraries. That might have been a bit more of a stretch, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to keep that in mind! Yet another set of places with wifi internet options out there while you are on the road!
In the end, the Starbucks plan worked. I took the job, and I worked at Starbucks. And yes, I ate a cake pop.
I’m not completely tech ignorant, and I know that I had one other option up my sleeve. If I had been desperate, I could have turned my phone into a hotspot and connected my computer to that. But who has that kind of data to spare anymore? Not the girl with the Disneyland habit, anyway! (Really- when will wifi show up in the parks? But I digress…)