Whatever your level of digital dependence, there's a surefire way to access Wi-Fi when you're on the road. Because sometimes, going off the grid just isn't an option.
Online Addiction Level: Low
You get a kick out of tapping into your social network from unlikely locations, but you're not willing to invest in an arsenal of gadgets to facilitate constant contact.
The Fix Before settling on your trip accommodations, search travelpost.com's database of hotel chains with free wireless networks. And once you've nailed down your itinerary, use JiWire's free Wi-Fi Finder to pinpoint hotspots near the places you're visiting and to find out how much each one costs, if anything (jiwire.com).
Online Addiction Level: Medium
You'd enjoy your cross-country road trip a whole lot more if you could blog about it from the middle of the interstate (in the passenger's seat, of course).
The Fix Sign up for pay-as-you-go mobile broadband. Both Verizon and Virgin Mobile offer prepaid, no-contract packages that get you online through either company's 3G cellular network. Plans start at $10 for limited 10-day access, but you'll have to buy a network-specific USB modem (from $60) to get your laptop online.
Online Addiction Level: Intervention-Worthy
Your typical family vacation includes at least one all-out brawl over who gets to check their e-mail first. (So much for bonding!)
The Fix Use a MiFi (novatelwireless.com) to maximize a subscription-based mobile broadband plan. (Think of it as a portable hotspot that can support up to five computers at once.) Depending on the carrier, you'll get the device free (Sprint) or deeply discounted (Verizon) when you sign up for service, for about $60 a month.