It's not hard to find free Wi-Fi as long as you're not staying at a hotel. How many times have these annoying series of events played out for you? After a long day of traveling, you finally make it to your hotel. All you want to do is go to your room, kick off your shoes and check your email, surf the net or watch a movie on your laptop.
When you get there, you're relieved to see a strong Wi-Fi signal in your room so you log on, but rather than bouncing straight to the net, you see pricing options. You don't need 24 hours of Wi-Fi since you'll be asleep for most of it, so paying $10 to $15 for a few hours of service doesn't seem cost effective to you. You could use your phone, but the screen is too small for your tired eyes. Having to pay for Wi-Fi at a hotel seems contrary to the idea of true hospitality, but fortunately there are ways around the charge.
Wi-Fi may come with a price when you're in your room, but in the lobby, bar and other common areas it may be free. Much like other restaurants, setting up an environment for business lunches and dinners encourages more traffic to the restaurant, making Wi-Fi a necessity since other restaurants close by are likely to offer the service free-of-charge. Head downstairs with your laptop or tablet and you'll likely find a connection.
Most cell phone carriers provide an option to use your cell phone as a hotspot that provides connectivity to your tablet or laptop. Newer phones allow for a wireless connection that requires only a password.
The downside is that tethering will cost money. In order to use the option, you'll have to enable it with your cell service provider. If you're not a frequent traveler, paying the fee for hotel service may be cheaper than paying for the tethering service, even for a month or less.
Rent an Aircard
If you are a person who travels frequently, an aircard provides a connection to the Internet regardless of where you are. Unless you travel frequently, paying $35 or more each month for the card isn't cost-effective. To solve this problem, some companies allow you to rent an aircard for around $6 per day. With some hotels charging $9.95 or more each day for Internet service, renting an aircard is not only cheaper, but it allows you to take it with you, ensuring service anywhere you go while traveling.
Loyalty Has Privileges
Even if you don't travel many times a year, try to remain loyal to the same hotel chain. Just as airlines have frequent flyer programs, hotels have similar loyalty programs that come with privileges as you amass more points. Often one of the perks that come with even the lowest levels is free Wi-Fi. Sometimes just being a member of their loyalty program is enough to earn the privilege regardless of how infrequently you book a reservation. Having your contact information for advertising is more valuable than charging you for Wi-Fi.
Hotels are in the hospitality business and they know that saying no to a customer is bad for business. Rather than complaining about the fact that even fast food restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, politely ask if they can provide the service free to you. If you're a frequent guest, they'll likely say yes and if they do say no, they'll probably help you find a way to get connected free-of-charge.
Become a Hacker?
There are numerous Internet sites that tell you how to work around the hotel Wi-Fi system to obtain free service, but it's unethical. You may have to make changes to your computer that could cause you to lose connectivity even when you leave the hotel. The network settings in your computer aren't easy to navigate if you aren't an IT professional. Instead of trying to steal a hotel service, pay the fee or go without it for a night.
The Bottom Line
Although a hotel may charge $10 or more for 24 hours of Internet service, there are ways to avoid paying the fee. If it's not available for free in its restaurant, consider eating at a nearby restaurant or go without connectivity for a night. It wasn't too long ago that people found a way to live a prosperous life without a constant connection to the Internet.