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What it takes to stay online when you’re on the go

What it takes to stay online when you’re on the go

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Use these tips to get Wi-Fi — no more excuses to your boss when you can’t connect to that web conference call.

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In today’s tech-savvy world, work stays with you when you’re on the road, whether you like it or not. With handy smartphones and laptops, it’s impossible to leave the office. But even in such a hyper-connected atmosphere, maintaining productivity is often easier said than done. Chasing reliable Wi-Fi has become both a frustration and a necessity. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to maneuver around a new city and find the connection you need.

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Use the free Wi-Fi offered in public spaces or at big chains.

You might be surprised at just how many places around a small town or big city have free Wi-Fi. In cafes and big chain fast food joints, you can sip on some much-needed coffee or devour a burger between meetings while taking advantage of the connection. Public libraries and event spaces like convention centers often provide access to Wi-Fi as well. If you’re constantly on the go (because what business traveler isn’t?), check for an airport or bus terminal connection, or pull over at a gas station — some have begun offering Wi-Fi across the United States and Canada. And don’t forget to use a free Wi-Fi finding app as you search.

Stuck with time-limited Wi-Fi? Use this easy hack to keep your laptop connected.

Some locations still offer Wi-Fi connection for an hour or two before infuriatingly kicking you off. One way around this dilemma is temporarily changing your laptop’s MAC address — what networks use to communicate with each other and track your connection time. Follow a detailed set of instructions for a variety of operating systems.

If you don’t have the patience or tech confidence to deal with this process, try simply clearing your browser’s cookies. It might just do the trick. And remember, time limits apply to devices, not individuals. If you’re traveling with multiple smart devices, don’t make the mistake of connecting them all at once. Avoid those exasperated groans and use your devices sparingly, one after another, until time runs out.

Use a portable Wi-Fi device or tap into your provider’s network to save the headache.

There are many options to choose from when it comes to small and convenient travel routers and hotspots. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with your existing internet or phone provider; some offer access to their network of hotspots around the United States and even across the globe. They often have a line of mobile hotspots to choose from as well.

In addition, you can smartly tether your smartphone and turn it into a hotspot so other Wi-Fi-enabled devices can use its data connection. This will draw from your data plan for the month, so unless you have an unlimited plan or can bill expenses to the office (ah, freedom!), be sure to keep an eye on how much data you’re using.

Rent a car of the future (but really of today) equipped with Wi-Fi.

Yes, they exist. Many car manufacturers have models with a built-in cellular data connection and the ability to add Wi-Fi too. Ask how much data is included with your rental, as well as the size of the network and amount of high-speed connectivity. You don’t want to use up all the fast connection before you really need it for that prolonged conference call or back-and-forth email exchange. Your rental company might also offer mobile hotspots — take advantage of what’s available.