Other than blow my paycheck on table rental at Starbucks or burn through all my cell data, I mean?
Here's a preliminary list of possibilities with some other resources to try as needed.
Where to find free Wi-Fi as a Van Dweller:
- Coffee shops and cafes--local joints as well as Panera Bread, Dunkin' Donuts and, of course, Starbucks. Table rental starts at about $4, but includes a latte. And unlimited bathroom breaks.
- McDonalds. Table rental and charging stations are cheaper. But what you gain in economy, you sacrifice in comfort and ambiance. I'm not a fan of McDonald's, but 2017 thru-hiker Clunk was infamous for charging gadgets and sucking up McD's wifi along the trail without so much as purchasing a $1 cup of swill. Not saying it's cool. Just sayin' it's been done.
- Library. Stay all day, it's free, comfy and you can catch up on reading People magazine and Rolling Stone. What's not to like? Oh, and it's usually quiet, so a good place to actually get work done if you're easily distracted by people watching.
- Book Stores. Notably, Barnes & Noble. Is it wrong that I just want to use corporate facilities without shopping at them? I figure they can afford to supplement my Netflix fixes with their giant tax breaks.
- Whole Foods. I know! I love stopping at Whole Foods when I'm on the road. I know what to expect from the hot bar and now they offer Wi Fi. Top Ten! Plus, some things are cheaper there even though they're known as Whole Paycheck market.
- Gyms. Lots of gyms are starting to offer wifi so you can stream Pandora while logging miles on the elliptical. Some even have places you can sit and work after a workout. This will be a factor when I get to my PT job in South Carolina and I'm deciding which gym(s) to join. Cozy wi-fi, sauna, clean showers. Oh yeah, and exercise stuff. In that order.
- Hospitals. Hospitals freak me out; there are sick people in there! But there's also decent food (usually), wi-fi (increasingly) and opportunities for hassle free stealth parking. I've even seen Starbucks set up on hospital campuses, so it may be worth the risk of hob-nobbing with all those infectious peeps.
This article at Life Hacker has lots of links to apps that help you find hotspots. Comments were helpful, too. Example: the great state of Texas offers free WiFi at all of its rest areas. And rattlesnakes.
For tips on keeping your info safe and secret while on public wi-fi, scroll to the bottom of this article on The Simple Dollar (new favorite website, BTW).
I'm curious...where do you sidle up to a free hot spot when you're on the road or on the trail? Leave a comment and share your tips. Van dwellers will be forever grateful!