From coffee shops to airports, the world is slowly opening up free Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs it. But they can be hard to find, and you need to use the more secure ones. A few apps and maps will ensure a reliable free Wi-Fi connection for you no matter where you go.
Normally, you can always go to a public library or a public place like a train station to get free internet service almost anywhere. But when you expand that list with passwords for all sorts of private places (including offices and homes), you won’t have to travel much to get online.
While we have covered some of the best Wi-Fi hotspot finders in the past, this is one area where the app’s quality changes based on which regions it is mostly used in. What you find on one app might not be as good as what you find on another, so try different ones and pick the one that works best for your desired location.
Wi-Fi Free Spot (Web): The Best for USA
In American cities, a free Wi-Fi hotspot is actually never too far away. But things get a little bleaker when you move away from the main hubs. Wi-Fi Free Spot will ensure you know the next best place to go to if you want to stay online.
The main list breaks down every available public location by state, after which you get a further breakdown by cities and towns, and then by places like cafes, restaurants, public spaces, hotels, and so on. Wi-Fi Free Spot also has lists based on companies (McDonald’s, FedEx, etc.), airports, hotels, RV parks and campgrounds, and vacation rental properties.
All in all, you’ll never be left without a connection if you rely on this list. Of course, you need an internet connection to access the list in the first place. So before you visit any city you aren’t familiar with, it would be wise to save its page for offline reading.
Instabridge (Android, iOS): Simple, Intuitive, and the First Choice for Europeans
Instabridge is comparatively new to the game but has already earned a reputation of being reliable for finding networks in European cities. The mobile app also automatically connects to networks when available, saving you the hassle of finding a place.
The app’s community of users share passwords to both public and private Wi-Fi hotspots, letting you use the connection for free. Some users also run speed tests on the networks so you know which ones will let you do some high-speed uploads or downloads. The app can give you notifications for all types of events, like when you connect to a Wi-Fi or when it isn’t working.
Instabridge solves one of the bigger problems of these apps by offering an Offline Mode. You can either download the entire world’s map of places and passwords offline, or a particular region like South-Eastern Asia, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, etc. Just remember to be careful and use public Wi-Fi securely.
WiFox (Web, Android, iOS): Unlimited Wi-Fi at Any Airport in the World
Airports usually restrict the amount of time a traveler can access their free Wi-Fi. When you have a long layover or a delayed flight, this restriction can be incredibly annoying. But for two bucks, WiFox will connect you to the unlimited Wi-Fi access of airport lounges.
Here’s how it works. The community at WiFox, started by travel blogger Fox Nomad, keeps sharing Wi-Fi names and passwords at airports. With this regularly updated list, you can access a fancy lounge’s Wi-Fi network without ever paying for the lounge upgrade.
Fox Nomad has been doing this list for a couple of years now, and it is the most respected and reliable source of airport lounge passwords today. Before you go on a long journey next, get this app. Or if you don’t want to pay, just use the map.
Avast Wi-Fi Finder (Android, iOS): Safety for Public Wi-Fi
When you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, you are putting yourself at risk. Apart from the threat of malware, even hackers use it to steal your identity. So Avast, one of the leading antivirus developers, made a Wi-Fi finder with a focus on security.
Avast’s Wi-Fi Finder shows you hotspots that are already in range, as well as others within walking distance. Before you connect to any open Wi-Fi, Avast will offer to run a security check on that network to figure out whether it’s secure or not. This is a small but crucial step that no other Wi-Fi hotspot finder currently offers.
Apart from that, Avast has most of the features you’ll find in Instabridge. It’s also among the few apps to work well in both Europe and America, according to testimonials. You can also check a hotspot’s speed before you connect to it.
Places to Work (Web): Cafes Aren’t Your Only Option
Forget about your local Starbucks when you next need a reliable Internet connection to do some work. Places To Work has a much better list of all the options, cafes and otherwise, to get things done.
Grant it access to your GPS or search on the map yourself to find a list of nearby places where you can work. In fact, Places To Work is excellent for finding coworking spaces and single-day office desks. Sure, some of these double up as cafes, but you get more than that if you go visit.
We’ve already spoken about how shared offices and coworking spaces make freelancers productive. And most of them will be happy to set you up with a one-day pass if you’re traveling, so feel free to hop in.
If Nothing Else, Use Facebook
Finally, if you don’t want to use any of these free apps or websites, you can always turn to good old Facebook. That’s right, the social network has a similar feature and it’s pretty easy to use. Here’s how to find free public Wi-Fi spaces with Facebook.