After weeks of polling around, fellow travel writer Mike Barish discovered – or rather, confirmed – that out of the 8,000 votes that were cast in the Hotel Madness tournament, the worst of hotel pet peeves is having to pay for wi-fi. A befitting choice if I do say so myself.

Illustration by Elliott Golden

I don’t know about you, but it absolutely baffles me that having to pay for wi-fi is still an issue that stands today. Internet is and should always be considered a given. That being said, if you can appreciate this sentiment, and so happen to find yourself in such a predicament, do not fret as there are a good many solutions/alternatives that exist for the very savvy and economic Travelette that you are.

Ditch your hotel room and head for the hotspots

There are several corporations that offer free wi-fi at their locations. The following establishments will almost always have free wi-fi:

  • Apple Retail Stores
  • Denny’s (North America)
  • FedEx Office
  • McDonald’s
  • Starbucks
  • many cafes and coffeeshops

Those are just a few to name, but be sure to confirm with the location of interest before paying a visit!

For a more extensive listing on wi-fi friendly companies, check out the WiFi FreeSpot and the Open WiFi Spots directories.

Photo via MassLive

Narrow down your search to a T

Make the transition from breadth to depth by using the following wi-fi hotspot search engines:

  • JiWire Wi-Fi Finder is probably the most high-tech, efficient and thorough of all of the directories I’ve come across. Not only does it cover a wide geographic range and have the most attractive interface, but it also throws Google Maps into the mix.
  • OpenWifiSpots provides a pretty extensive listing on the free wi-fi hotspots in North America, Europe and Australia. It allows you to search by city, state and/or zipcode.
  • does virtually the same thing as the former but differs in that it acts as a social networking platform founded on the same philosophy that this article was founded on: to “keep wi-fi free”. Nice to know that not everyone is trying to exploit you!

Photo by Oliver Fluck

As follows, is a listing of site-specific wi-fi hotspot directories:

For a more comprehensive list, visit’s listing.

Go free by going smart!

In other words, carry your hotspot research onto your smartphone – JiWire now offers the scribe’s beloved Wi-Fi Finder app for the iPhone and the Android!

Enjoy the Internet en plein air

Own an Android or a BlackBerry? Don’t mind paying a one-time fee that will give you unlimited Internet access practically wherever you are? Whether on the corner of a bustling street or in the middle of a remote highway, “tethering” can and will bring the Internet to you.

Tethering, by definition, is the act of using an Internet mobile device as a modem for another Internet device (in other words, using your smartphone to connect your laptop to the net). It is a neat little quick-fix with both its pros and cons. The upside is that one can access the Internet wherever there is service for it; the downside is that, apart from the fact that there is a fee, it drains your mobile device’s battery.

Sound like something you’d be interested in? Visit for more info.

Photo via HoweSolutions

Thanks to the advent of the Internet, all of this is possible. Seems unfair that we should be charged for a service that has quickly become an everyday part of life. That said, I hope that you choose to skip the fee and go free! After all, free is everyone’s favorite number, is it not?

Tags wi-fi