Ah, the internet. It's practically a guarantee that anyone net-savvy enough to navigate to this page would consider life without internet to be a horrid one indeed. That may actually not be true the depth of disorientation we'd feel should we be forced to stay off the net may actually be unimaginable.

Unfortunately though, we all find ourselves in situations where the internet is beyond our reach. Maybe you've moved into a new place that isn't hooked up yet, or maybe you're travelling abroad and don't have immediate access to the net, it doesn't matter. You won't have the net but you know you'll need it.

Here are some ways to get free internet when you need it.

Know the places that have free WiFi
Your first and most convenient resource comes in the form of businesses and such that offer you free WiFi. The most popular one is of course McDonalds, which makes Ronald McDonald a true unsung hero of our time. Sure McDonalds has had a huge hand in raising several generations of obese children, but free WiFi around the world is a pretty sweet way to give back. Outside of that, other places like libraries, airports, hotels and cafes also offer free WiFi.

Fun fact: one time I lived by a library for a month and used their WiFi every day. It was glorious.

Anyway, these fine establishments will often require you to ask a staff member for a password, which sort of means you're obliged to buy something. Then again, a few bucks for a coffee and hours of internet isn't a bad deal at all.

Hotspot Databases
If you don't have a lot of experience in being a cheapskate like I do, you may not actually be familiar with places in your area that offer free Wi-Fi. In that case, you should access one of the various Hotspot Databases that you can find, somewhat ironically, on the internet. These databases will tell you about the best hotspots that are nearest to you.
One of the more popular ones is WeFi.com, which at the time of writing has over 194,000,000 entries and there's a good chance that you're near at least a few of them.

Contact Your ISP
If you know you'll be without internet for a while you should contact your service provider to see if they offer any public service. Some ISPs have public hotspots set up for their customers, particularly in business districts and the like. For example, iiNet has wireless internet hotspots located around the Perth CBD.

Mobile Phone Tethering
If you're out and about and find yourself in a pickle and can only get un-pickled by accessing the net on your laptop, a quick solution is the tether to your mobile phone.

Of course, this technically isn't free internet, but if you're on a mobile phone plan with a decent amount of data (anything over 1 gig) then it's quite unlikely that you'll go over your monthly data limit unless you exclusively browse the net with your phone.

The plus side is that it's quick and easy. Once your personal hotspot is set up, you can toggle it on with a few flicks of your finger and have a connection to your laptop basically anywhere.