WiFi on the road: what’s the ultimate solution? As I’ve mentioned before, both Jan and I have businesses that rely heavily on the Internet. Since we both enjoy what we do, we also know these businesses can continually provide the income and freedom to support our travel plans.
Frankly one of our concerns has been connectivity. It will be rather essential to the full-time RV life/workstyle (not to mention that we are used to 50mbs plus in our sticks-n-bricks.)
I’ll admit to purchasing, downloading and devouring a lot of great materials about Wi-Fi on the road:
- Which smartphone carriers offer the best data plans, coverage, prices…
- How many widgets and gadgets I might have to string together to make staying connected a reality…
- Resetting the budget for connectivity once we go full-time.
What to make of it all?
While much of this information was excellent, research and experience based like that produced by Cherie Ve Ard & Chris Dunphy , there seems to be much that is peppered with comments about poor Wi-Fi in many RV “resorts” and mental picture-painting of frequent stops in the parking lots of Wal-Mart or Home Depot or Lowes and other big box stores, tapping into McDonalds, Panera Bread or any number of businesses who offer complimentary Wi-Fi– most all on unsecured networks. (Which may be ok if you don’t mind sharing your data with anyone else who believes they have a “need to know”–probably not good for client sensitive information)
But yesterday a fresh, free alternative unfolded.
Two of my business associates and I discovered that in a new sense of the term, Wi-Fi’s gone “public!” Believe it or not, no one had mentioned this in my research and frankly I had never thought of it either:
Free Wi-Fi at Public Libraries!
I’ll admit that I haven’t visited a public library in a long time and I’m sure these opportunities might not be so readily available in smaller towns, but it turns out that that 2736 public libraries across the United States offer free WiFi (who knew?)
We had actually reserved a room at our neighborhood branch of the public library. What we discovered was a whole lot more. It was at least a mild shock!
The room they had offered us at no charge was techno-state of the art, equipped with comfortable furnishings and larger than most small business conference rooms. But the big surprise was on the wall.
It was a massive flat screen super smart, Windows assisted HD Monitor with both HDMI and VGA connectors, a built-in camera with mics and hi-speed WiFi strong enough to reliably support teleconferencing and online hangouts or Skype calls.
On our way to the room we had passed banks of cubical styled study areas, larger rooms like ours, a computer lab facility with almost 75 work stations.Plus we were told that they had a “plethora” of loaner laptops available for users who did not have their own.
Did I mention a full-fledged food service area! (What has become of the public library?)
Passing through some reasonably good-sized towns in your travels?
- Why not check ahead to see if they have free Wi-Fi at any of their public library(s).
- You might ask if there is plenty of parking,
- and if reservations are necessary.
Need Help Finding the Libraries Along Your Way?
The easiest to remember URL is PublicLibraries.com The site let’s you choose the state you’re interested in, gives you a list of cities, then provides detailed information including phone numbers (which are programmed for tap-to-call from your smartphone) physical addresses, and if the library has one, a link to each official website.
Free Wi-Fi libraries can also be found easily at: http://www.lib-web.org/united-states/public-libraries/ Alphabetically listed by state and cities, each is linked to the official website of the library selected.
Library websites typically provide a wealth of well-organized detail from hours to services offered to video tours like this one of the Cerritos Library, Cerritos, California.
Looking for a location beyond the Library?
Check out: http://www.openwifispots.com/ This site will help you find free Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere and you can browse by city and state for all of the following categories:
Coffeeshop / Cafes Hotel / Motel / Resorts Fast Food Restaurants Libraries
Bar and Grills Bookstores Stores Food / Grocery Stores RV Parks
Other Gas Stations Airports Laundromat / Cleaners Bakeries
Salon / Spas Automotives Shopping Malls Campgrounds Internet Cafes
The site may require a familiarization with how they have organized and presented, but the information is thorough when you get there. While this is certainly not the only solution, we hope it offers you just one more option for WiFi on the road!