If you live in a rural area like I do, chances are when the power or Internet goes down, it doesn’t come back on right away. Recently, here in Shohola, Pa., this happened to me twice. Being a freelancer, this poses a huge problem because the Internet is how I – and likely you — send your work to clients, whether it’s via email, a blogging platform, content management system, etc…
A few weeks ago, a storm shut down power to my little neck of the woods here for 26 hours. I had a similar issue just this week when my Internet service provider was having technical issues, and I couldn’t connect to the Internet. In the first scenario, my mother-in-law, who only lives about 40 minutes away, graciously let me come over bright and early with my 14-month-old in tow in the morning and use her wireless. In the second case, I ventured about a half-hour away and used Loews’ wireless Internet in the parking lot – this is the only wireless access nearby.
Whether you live in a rural or urban area, it’s critical that you make a list of alternate locations where you can access the Internet in case yours goes down at your home office.
It’s always great if you can find a family member or friend who has Wi-Fi, but if you can’t, here is a list of 5 places that offer gratis Wi-Fi access that will come in handy if you run into a pickle. (Note: I am not endorsing these businesses by including them in this list, but I do frequent Dunkin’ Donuts way too often):
- Public libraries: Check with your local public libraries to see if they offer free Wi-Fi. Not all of them do. You will likely need to be a member of the library to be granted access, and libraries often limit the amount of time you can use on computers so everybody gets a chance.
- Starbucks: Almost all Starbucks locations offer free Wi-Fi to customers through AT&T, and many of its stores have comfy chairs and couches, and tables, where you can sit with your laptop or mobile device.
- Dunkin’ Donuts: Some Dunkin’ Donuts stores have free Wi-Fi. You can find out if your local store does by visiting the website for your local Dunkin’ Donuts. You might need to ask a DD staffer to find out the name of the network.
- Panera Bread: Panera bread offers free Wi-Fi at all its restaurants for customers.
- Local businesses: It’s always great to patronize local businesses. Find out what local businesses have free Wi-Fi, and while you’re there, buy an item or two to support them. [Ed. note: you might even uncover a story idea in the process!]
Tim Sohn is a freelance writer and editor based in Shohola, Pa. He focuses on technology and social media. Follow him on Twitter @editortim, connect with him on LinkedIn, and visit his website, TimothyJSohn.com.