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Old 06-24-2013, 01:49 PM   #1
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Thumbs up How to Find Free Wi-Fi on the Road

I'm on the road full time, but also work full-time from my computer. I refuse to pay for wi-fi with so much free wi-fi out there. I'd like to here other peoples tips for finding free wi-fi on the road.

Here are the places I look for when on the road:
Starbucks: Generally has the strongest signal of all the places listed.
McDonalds
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: For some you will need a passcode that you can get at the front desk.
Hotels and Motels: The privately owned ones tend to have password-free signals.
RV Campgrounds: Most parks these days have free wi-fi
Book Stores: They 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:I like this site, because it only shows the free Wi-Fi Hot spots, meaning you don’t have to sort through all the paid ones.
JWire’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder: Has too many ads, but it shows you paid and free Wi-Fi signals based on your current location, which is helpful
Google Maps can help you find free Wi-Fi also 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 a long list of paid and free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Wi-Fi Boosters for Your laptop allow you to use the signal in the parking lot so you don't have to get out of the camper.
You can get a Wi-Fi adapter for your computer that will help your laptop find stronger signal. What is usually three bars becomes five. If you need more strength you can buy a Wi-Fi antenna that you keep in your camper window.

[moderator edit]
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:14 PM   #2
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You are absolutely right except you have to be willing to go to the signal and not expect the wifi to come to you. When I used to travel for work all the time by air, rent car, hotel, I used to hand out in Starbucks and park my rental car in the Holiday Inn parking lot for free wifi. This was way before smartphones, mifi, or wireless broadband. I am lazy now except for walking to the clubhouse to get free wifi. We have a sat internet and verizon. So needless to say we are paying a bundle for internet we don't really use much. I like the satellite though as you can get internet in the middle of nowhere. And it appeals to the gadget guy in me.

I used to live on the road much of the time for work. I did this for about 15 years. Logged 3 million air miles and hundreds of rental cars, many hundreds of hotel rooms. I like motorhoming on the road better. At least I have my own bed and a bit of my own stuff with me. The big issues with the road full time are the same ones I had when on the road for work, almost impossible to volunteer for stuff. I volunteer at the Zoo, docent in a local park, do meals on wheels. If you are mobile all the time these things are hard to do. Don't get me wrong I like the wheel estate life, but there are trade offs in everything.

I like your post. I am going to have to be more agressive in finding free wifi spots.
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Old 06-26-2013, 05:32 PM   #3
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Be aware that these public Wifi hotspots are open to everyone and provide no security for any transactions. Anyone can hook into your laptop while you are connected and they can pull of any banking or credit card data and get your emails. We use the public Wifi, and this includes that at hotels and campgrounds, only for limited functions like checking gasbuddy.com.

No free lunch as the saying goes and so far it seems to be universally true in this country at least.
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Old 06-26-2013, 05:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkhornsun View Post
Be aware that these public Wifi hotspots are open to everyone and provide no security for any transactions. Anyone can hook into your laptop while you are connected and they can pull of any banking or credit card data and get your emails. We use the public Wifi, and this includes that at hotels and campgrounds, only for limited functions like checking gasbuddy.com.

No free lunch as the saying goes and so far it seems to be universally true in this country at least.
+ 1 OP will sing a different tune when, and it's only a matter of when, he gets hacked because he's on an unsecured connection.
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Old 06-26-2013, 05:52 PM   #5
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Before my iPhone hot spot, I spent many hours sitting in a motel parking lot using their wi-fi. Being a Marriott Platinum member, I have also hung out in the lobby or business center if I needed something printed.
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Old 06-26-2013, 07:50 PM   #6
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkhornsun View Post
Be aware that these public Wifi hotspots are open to everyone and provide no security for any transactions. Anyone can hook into your laptop while you are connected and they can pull of any banking or credit card data and get your emails. We use the public Wifi, and this includes that at hotels and campgrounds, only for limited functions like checking gasbuddy.com.

No free lunch as the saying goes and so far it seems to be universally true in this country at least.

Even though I do not support the OP's use of commercial wifi at businesses he is not a customer of, your statement is a commonly repeated incorrect one. If you are using a legitimate free wifi connection (as opposed to a "false" one set up by scammers) you have virtually no chance of being hacked as long as you are connected to a website using HTTPS protocol.

These days every bank and credit card site uses HTTPS and so do many others including Google if you sign into an account. Your information is protected by the security created by the HTTPS protocol and it is irrelevant whether or not the wifi connection itself is open or password protected.

This misinformation is repeated throughout these and other discussion groups and is simply wrong. The only real risk is when you are using non-HTTPS websites so your casual web-surfing could be hacked (better watch what "naughty" sites you go to. ) Also, if you send email via clients such as Outlook or Thunderbird your messages are not secure, so don't ever put credit card info or anything else important into emails.

The so-called wifi hacking horror stories that get passed around the internet are virtually all the result of people using wifi that they thought belonged to a business only to discover that it had been set up for the purpose of stealing passwords, etc. When you use a wifi, for example, at Starbucks, make sure the one you connect to really belongs to the store.
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