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As travel becomes more high tech, organizations around the world are increasingly offering free wireless Internet service (Wi-Fi) service to patrons, residents and visitors alike.

If your laptop will be traveling with you on your next trip, you’ll no doubt want to stop and check your e-mail along the way. But even if you don’t have a Wi-Fi account for your laptop, you can still get connected to the Internet – many times, for free.

Many restaurants, cafes and stores will let you log on to their service for a fee (usually for the cost of a small purchase or an hourly fee), but if you’re looking for more of a bargain, there are a number of venues offering free Internet access – you just have to know where to look.

Following are some ideas for venues that offer free wireless Internet access.

Bruegger’s Bagels. In addition to delicious bagels and coffee, you can also find free wireless Internet at this chain.

Libraries. Many public libraries provide computers with Internet access, and some also have free Wi-Fi as well, so you can bring in your own computer to get online.

McDonald’s. Many McDonald’s restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. Check the McDonald’s Web site mcdonalds.com to verify a location near you.

Panera Bread. Pick up a sandwich or bowl of soup and check your e-mail at one of their over 1,000 U.S. locations.

RV Parks. Many RV parks, such as KOA, offer free access to the Web.

Speedway Gas Stations. Most U.S. locations offer free Internet access.

Truck and Rest Stops. Many truck, rest and service stops are offering free wireless service – call ahead or ask for details.

Also check with your hotel and airport or train station to see if free Internet access is offered. Some hotels limit free access to guests only, but many provide free Internet access in public areas, such as lobbies and conference rooms.

There are many Web sites available that list free wireless Internet sites. To search by state or type of venue, visit the WiFi Free Spot Web site. Also see the Open Wi-Fi Spots site.

Be aware that not all Wi-Fi service is secure; your computer may be at risk for viruses or worse by hooking up to a free Internet service. Many experts recommend changing your passwords upon
returning home and not entering any personal information such as bank account numbers or passwords, or credit card numbers, on unsecured Internet connections.