A few years ago, a shocked and ashamed family friend confessed that he’d forgotten to turn off his phone’s data and roaming on a two-week trip to London, and had come home to discover a $10,000 internet bill. The fear of ever making the same mistake means that about eight times before boarding an international flight, I have checked, and checked again that my data is turned OFF.
But once we’re overseas and need to get directions, do research, contact people or even post a photo of ourselves with a generic landmark, our hunger for wifi kicks in. As our addiction to the internet hits us, where are leaching Aussie’s most likely to hunt for free wifi while travelling?
According to finder.com.au, 47 per cent of Aussies aren’t happy to pay for wifi while travelling, leaving us to our preferred, stingy alternatives. According to these findings, we’re apparently most likely to head back to the hotel room. Reliable, yes, but this tends to put a tether on us exploring too far from where we’re staying, and if you’re anything like me, once I’m back in my room I lounge around for hours.
Secondly, we’ll make the most of the free wifi offered at some fast food places, namely Maccas, and never actually buy anything. If you’re planning on using this method, make sure you ask the locals where the nearest ‘McDonald’s’ is, if you say ‘Maccas’ you’ll get blank looks as our Aussie slang doesn’t translate.
Large shopping centres come in next, although they can be a little harder to find, and once located can require forms of personal information in exchange for access.
Fourth, as guilt begins to weigh in, we’ll actually buy something from those fast food chains to justify our presence. Although the stingier of us aren’t afraid of loitering outside hotel lobbies that aren’t ours, either praising the ‘free guests’ internet, or trying to guess possible passwords.
Some train stations offer free wifi, although it’s worth checking first before heading out to one, as not all countries extend this service. Walking for lengths across a city to access free internet at a station, then discovering it’s not there, can be a real bummer … I speak from experience.
Finally – and well done Australia, we really are leaches – we’d prefer to sneak onto someone else’s unsecured hotspot than ask a local to borrow their phone.
On one occasion, when a café with free internet was completely full, I resorted to sitting on the floor under the coat rack, pretending to contemplate the menu in order to post a photo of myself ‘holding’ the Eiffel tower … not my finest moment.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done for free wifi?