Business travelers are increasingly reliant on fast and easy wireless internet, or Wi-Fi, connections when managing their affairs from their laptops on the road. As a matter of fact, hotels report that one of the most frequently asked questions among potential guests is whether they offer Wi-Fi access. Second question: whether that access is free.
In an interesting twist, it's the least expensive hotel chains that are the most likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while the better-appointed "full service" and luxury brands generally charge $10 to $20 per day (or more overseas).
You can log on for free at the following hotel chains popular with business travelers (some offer the free service in rooms; in others, it might only be in the hotel lobby): Baymont Inn, Choice Hotels (including Clarion and Comfort), Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Kimpton Group, La Quinta, Marriott Courtyard, Microtel, Omni, Residence Inn, Wingate Inn and Wyndham.
Competitive airports are also increasingly offering Wi-Fi access, but again, there seems to be a divide between those that offer it as a free service and those that charge a fee. The following are among the airports offering free access: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Las Vegas; Long Beach, California; Orange County/Santa Ana, California; Orlando, Florida; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Richmond, Virginia; and Tampa, Florida.
Also, Continental Airlines offers free Wi-Fi access in 22 of its airport Presidents Clubs across the country. (Sometimes you can access the free signal outside the clubs in adjacent gates or corridors.)
Log on to www.wififreespot.comfor the most current updates on where to get free Wi-Fi.
Chris McGinnis is author of The Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.