Free Internet is out there, but not always when you need it most. Here’s my collection of tips on how to find WiFi on the go.
I can hardly imagine travelling without WiFi, not just as a digital nomad, but even as a tourist. WiFi is widespread, but not always as easy to find and as available as you may wish it to be. I’ve assembled here some useful tips on how to get connected when you travel.
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City-Provided Free WiFi
Some big cities in the world have free urban networks you can connect to for free. Some of these network require registration, but other don’t. The availability may vary. In some cities you’ll find free Internet on main streets across the city, and sometimes only in the city centre. Sometimes it may be available in parks and other public places and most often in public libraries.
Some examples of free municipality networks include City Open WLAN in Helsinki, Finland, WiFreeLjubljana in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Free TLV in Tel Aviv, Israel. You’ll also find free WiFi in the city centres of Geneva, Switzerland, Bristol and York in the UK, Helsingborg in Sweden, Tallinn in Estonia and many cities in Canada and the US.
Before you go, search online to find out if your destination offers free WiFi. You’ll normally find the information on the city’s official tourism website or the mayor / municipality website.
Book accommodation with free WiFi
It seems obvious, but somehow it still cannot be taken for granted today that your accommodation will have an Internet connection. So whether you’re staying at a hotel or a hostel or renting an apartment or a room, check that they provide free Internet.
My own preference is booking accommodation on Airbnb. Looking for rentals with WiFi is very easy: use the filters in your search to find only listings with internet included and you’ll only see the relevant search results.
When you read reviews on a particular rental, check that no one has complained about the WiFi speed or availability. Once or twice in the past I thought I found the perfect room, and then read a review saying there was no Internet connect in that part of the apartment.
Public Password Apps
Before you leave for your trip, install mobile apps that collect public WiFi passwords submitted by users, so you can connect easily on the go. These include passwords at cafes and restaurants, public libraries and other public spaces.
None of these apps will give you a perfect solution, as far as I’ve experienced. They rely on user submissions, so the passwords may not always be up to date and some parts of the world may not be covered.
Apps like: wifimagic, instabridge , wifimap and many others offer this service. You can always download several apps and at least one of them will probably ֱgive you the password you need at the right time.
Download before you go
If access to free WiFi is limited in your destination, make sure you download what you need in advance and save yourself time and worries on your trip. You can download maps, movies, reading materials, destination guides, podcasts, audio books and anything else you might need.
Maps: Google Maps let you download selected areas for offline use and also get driving directions offline. An alternative option you can use is Here Maps – they provide offline access to maps, including directions, and let you save your own locations on a map. Another popular app is maps.me which gives you very detailed offline maps anywhere in the world.
Reading materials: Saving articles and blog posts for offline reading is useful not just when you travel. I do this in everyday life too. My app of choice is Pocket and I simply save anything I want to read to it and read it whenever I want. This is perfect for long flights or train rides. You can use it to save travel guides too. Tag anything you save with the destination name to find it easily later on.
Podcasts: Some apps let you search for podcasts and download episodes to your phone so you can listen to them offline. You can search for travel podcasts and download the episodes related to your destinations. This is another great way to pass the time on flights, at airports, on trains and buses or when you’re waiting in line for an overcrowded tourist attraction. I use Podbean to subscribe to podcasts, download episodes and create playlists by topic.
If you’re a digital nomad or a remote worker and you need to get a lot of work done, but the Internet connections you’ve found are not sufficient, look for a coworking space.
Coworking spaces typically offer high speed Internet. They are available in most big cities in growing numbers. Some are open late or even 24 hours a day, so you’re more than likely to find what you need.
As for the price, there are free spaces, such as Google Campus, but there aren’t that many of those. Some coworking spaces will give you a free day pass (sometimes even a free week trial).
Otherwise, you can simply look for a space that fits your budget or you can also work from a cheap laptop-friendly cafe. These directories will help you find a coworking space.
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