We have all been there. We need free wifi abroad: our data roaming plan is absurdly priced and insanely slow, and we really, really just need to get on the internet. Maybe the hotel doesn’t have wifi or if they do, the fee is to sign over your first born child. Whatever the reason, we need wifi, and we can’t get it. What should you do?
In The city
If you’re in a big urban city, seek out the Golden Arches. Wait, did we just tell you to go to a McDonalds while abroad? We did. Don’t order the food (though let’s be honest, a small order of fries wouldn’t be the worst thing) just open your wifi finder in your phone. Throughout the world, McDonalds and other fast food joints often offer complimentary wifi. Starbucks is another popular option though I have had to order something in order to get a code from time to time while abroad. You know what else McDonald’s is good for? Free bathrooms, a true treasure while wandering many a foreign street.
At the airport
Airports are getting better and better about offering free wifi, but work remains to be done. Our tip: Before the trip, use Yelp or a similar app like LoungeBuddy to research whatever lounges exist in the terminal you’ll be in. Don’t worry, you don’t have to fork over the $50 to enter the lounge. Instead, look for comments or tips on sites like those mentioned where users cough up the wifi password. Find the nearest seat you can to the lounge, open your wifi finder, and if all goes well, surf to your hearts content.
With your credit card
We have a love hate relationship with Boingo. For years, I would see what wifi networks were available, get excited when one appeared, and then cry out in frustration when it redirected me to a pay to play Boingo site. OK, maybe I didn’t really cry out, but you get the point. Then one day that changed. Our American Express Platinum offers unlimited complimentary wifi where there are Boingo networks. I rarely go without wireless anymore.
Use your hotel loyalty
Find an IHG (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, etc…), wander into the lobby, and use your loyalty information to log in. Wait, you’re not staying at the hotel? Doesn’t matter. Last year, IHG announced free wifi for all of their Priority Club members. And here’s the best part of it all: You don’t have to stay at the hotel. Bring your Priority Club number with you and you should have all the data you need for a free login. And it’s not just IHG: Several hotel properties offer free wifi in their lobbies. So when in doubt, wander into a hotel or two and you’re bound to find some free wifi.
Bonus- With Your Cell Phone Plan
Data roaming is so frustrating…until it’s not. We’ll talk about this more in depth on a future post, but we haven’t paid data roaming for over a year now, despite using our phones EVERYWHERE we travel to. Why? We’ve got T-Mobile which, among other perks such as cheap prices and free streaming music, provide free data roaming in over 100 countries. The data is slow, but it’s data and it’s free. We aren’t looking to be stuck behind our phone or tablet screens when on the road, so T-Mobile is the perfect amount of data to occasionally consult Google Maps, shoot out a quick email, or confirm a flight departure.
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