Since I work virtually, that thing they call the ïnternet¨ is kind of important to me. Just a little. I don’t need much while traveling, but WIFI is the one thing I can’t go without (for very long). So it goes without saying that the first thing I generally do when I get to a new city abroad is scout out WIFI locations. It’s a tedious process.
Step 1: Check my hostel or hotel. It´s often the case that hostels, and particularly hotels, have free WIFI — but the quality of the connection is always a bit up in the air. Very seldom do I get a several hour work session in at a hostel without internet cutting out at least once on me. At that point, you often have to wait for someone to go reset the router or for it to reset itself, but generally most places fix it fairly quickly since a gang of people all usually gets cut off at the same time.
Step 2: Scout out local cafes with free WIFI. I usually walk around the area near my hostel or hotel, and especially main streets nearby, looking for ¨Free WIFI Zone¨ signs posted on doors or windows of restaurants and cafes.
Step 3: Search the internet for WIFI locations. There is no good central resource for decent WIFI locations internationally (that I’ve found at least), so this method is usually a bit challenging and time consuming from my experience.
Step 4: Starbucks of McDonald´s almost always have internet connections for customers in Europe. However, at Starbucks, they only give you 45 minutes with the purchase of something — though, in some places like Valencia, they are pretty relaxed about it and happy to give you additional time at no cost.
Step 5: Look for internet cafes that charge for time by the hour. This is usually a last resort, but the only option in some cases.
And the process doesn’t end once I find a WIFI location. Many WIFI locations have shaky connections, so the strength and quality of the network are just as important as finding a network in the first place. For important conference calls or YouReach Media webinars, I judge the quality of the connection I´ve been using — and if it frequently cuts out on me, then I head to an internet cafe and grudgingly pay for internet time.