No matter what you're doing, there's always a way to make it more productive. Whether you're lounging between client visits, getting an oil change, or taking a coffee break, your laptop can help you get more out of your down time.
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Next time you're seeking out a break or change of scenery, bring your computer. Many local businesses have incorporated free WiFi into their marketing plans. Free bandwidth may seem almost too good to be true, but free internet is widely available and easily accessible – you just need to know where to look. Here are some places to start.
If you're in the mood for coffee, tea, or a snack
Both Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf feature free WiFi at the majority of
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their locations. Coffee Bean team members are even trained to provide customer support to help with basic problems. They aren't tech specialists, so they can't fix your computer, but they may be able to help you get online. Free and unlimited WiFi is available at Starbucks as well, ensuring you'll have plenty of time to work - and enough caffeine to carry you through to the end of any project.
If you're hungry
If you're in the mood for lunch, Panera Bread is your WiFi hotspot. While carbo-loading on freshly baked goods at this bakery-cafe, you can browse the internet for free. Keep in mind that during peak hours, many locations will restrict internet use to 30 or 60 minutes in order to create table space for waiting customers.
If you need an oil change
You don't have to wait around reading old magazines while you get an oil change anymore. Bring your computer to EZ Lube; every location features free WiFi so that you don't need to feel like you're wasting time while you're getting a tune-up. If you don't live close to an EZ Lube location, you might want to call your local oil change center to see if they feature free WiFi. It doesn't hurt to ask.
If you're craving dessert
In case you need another reason to visit, some Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream locations now feature WiFi hotspots. If you're lucky, you might even be able to sit outside, enjoy the weather and try out the company's latest crazy flavor.
If you're making a pit stop
More than 11,500 McDonald's locations feature free WiFi for laptops and smartphones. Bring your tablet or computer, enjoy a Big Mac or coffee, and write some memos. Especially when you're traveling or commuting, McDonald's may be a great place to stop and check your email.
If you're getting ready for work
FedEx Office began offering free and unlimited WiFi in October 2010. Previously, FedEx charged customers for computer rental services and internet access, including WiFi. Now, they are trying to help professionals keep that cost down. It's true that FedEx isn't quite like your neighborhood coffee shop, but it's a place where you can get some work done - and print some really nice reports.
If you're grocery shopping
The ability to research a product or compare prices at the grocery store can be a great benefit for careful shoppers. Select Whole Foods allow shoppers to get online with their smartphones, tablets, or laptops, allowing you to refer to an online grocery list, look up ingredients for a new recipe, or just figure out what the heck to do with that funny looking vegetable you've never heard of. You can find out whether WiFi is available at your location of choice by visiting the Whole Foods website.
The Bottom Line
The number of businesses offering free WiFi continues to expand, allowing you to stay connected, whether you're running errands, making a pit stop, or looking for a change of scenery. Let free WiFi inspire you to get out and explore. If you have work or correspondence to do on your computer, there's no need to be stuck at home or at the office.