Free WiFi For Everyone

Internet access while traveling has become as vital as a meal. After all, we’ve made many a dining choice based on the little WiFi logo. Often whilst on the road we’ve asked if a restaurant has WiFi and, after sitting down and ordering beers, we’ve had less than satisfying experiences. And it can happen a number of ways.

  •  The password is… Why do they have to be obscure? We’ve run across a number of establishments with some long, crazy password with upper case and lower cases which the server writes on a scrap of paper. This one is from St. Thomas.
Is the first letter a 1 or an I?
Is the first letter a 1 or an I?
Beauvais France – the number is the code for the door with the WiFi password below

Probably the worst was in Venice, although they could have complicated it just a bit more by throwing in a few capitals.

Venice, Italy – That’s 24 characters!
  • Fake WiFi.  “Hey, the WiFi isn’t working…” I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard the response “that’s strange, we will reboot the router and see if that makes a difference”. It never does. They have a router, but it’s not connected to the world. It’s the old bait and switch advertising technique.
  • “Let me enter it for you.” I kind of like that. You hand your phone to the server who enters the password. It solves a lot of the problems with understanding vagaries of language and handwriting. The strangest version of this was in Paramaribo when the server had to take the phone to her manager since she wasn’t allowed to have the password. I guess the staff spent more time surfing than serving.
  • Time is up. The Holiday Inn Express in Lisbon handed us little slips of paper with random digits printed on it. That password was good for two devices and only lasted 24 hours. I don’t get it. Somebody has to print all those numbers out and cut them up into small slips. I can think of better things I’d pay an employee to do. Here’s a similar example from Mexico.
Guanajuato, Mexico
Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Open to all, but you have to acknowledge it first. These are ubiquitous in North America, but can be really frustrating. Typically it’s places like the airport or McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s. They’re known for having free WiFi but you have to jump through some kind of hoop first. It prevents you from hopping on their network and using an app and it often takes me a second to figure out what went wrong when I forgot the hoop. It’s extremely frustrating when waiting in the drive through and I want to do something quickly on my phone but I have to open a browser, force it to go to a new page, then acknowledge all the legal terms of service.  I find it’s faster to just turn off my WiFi.
Must I? Again? I just did this yesterday!

Sometimes it fun to complain, but the truth is that whatever it takes to hop online is worth it. The ability to keep in touch with family and friends is invaluable. Our cell phone providers offer unlimited text and (slow) data all over the world at no additional cost. Bella is on Sprint and I’m on T-Mobile and we’re huge advocates of their programs. It gives us the ability to navigate, text, access important emails like those for reservations, all without the fear of incurring huge roaming fees.



Here’s one from Playa Del Carmen. It took a few tries to figure out there’s not any capitals in this password.

That’s an “f”, not an “F”


I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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