How to save cash on internet access while traveling

By Nicole Wong
By Nicole Wong

When I travel, I want to get away from it all -- except from the internet. Here are three ways I surfed the Web on my laptop during my 17-day cross-country roadtrip this summer without cracking open my wallet:

First, I booked hotels that offered free wireless-internet access. That saved me much more cash than just the $10 to $20 nightly internet fee that many other hotels charged. I wrung out the additional savings from the ironic reality that the lower-priced hotels, like Super 8 Motel and Holiday Inn Express, were usually the ones throwing in free WiFi. Meanwhile, the more expensive hotels typically slapped on Internet fees, knowing that their main clientele of well-to-do guests or business travelers with expense accounts would pony up to peruse cyberspace. It's situations like these where it pays off to be cheap!'s annual list of hotel chains that throw in free WiFi is a good resource when you're figuring out where to stay.

Second, on those unlucky occasions when I wound up in a hotel that charged for internet access, I simply went to bed early so the next morning I'd have more time to romp around online while sitting in a nearby cafe that served free WiFi along with a delicious breakfast. Also, some hotels that charge for in-room internet will waive the fee on the spot if you sign up for the chain's free customer-loyalty rewards program, so be sure to ask about that.