WirelessMany hotels still charge money for internet connections, and paying an extra £5 a night doesn't mean it'll work well. Before you click that approve button, try finding a free network nearby - even in the hotel lobby.

On a laptop, use an application such as inSSIDer to constantly scan for open networks. I've even found signals from coffee shops or cafes that reach into a lobby, but you might have to walk outside the hotel to find a suitable signal.

Just leave inSSIDer running, and it'll scan for networks. If you find one that doesn't require a password to log in - keep an eye in the Security column - connect through the Networking and Sharing Center. (You can often reach this directly by right-clicking a Wi-Fi or network icon in the System Tray.)

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You can also often buy similar software for a Wi-Fi-capable mobile phone. Many utilities serve the same purpose on an iPhone, for example, such as WiFiTrak. And once you locate a good network, you can return with the laptop.

Keep an eye on conspicuously named networks, too, such as ones that share the name of a restaurant. Even if there's a password, you might be able to sign in for the cost of a cup of coffee.

But remember that these connections - even your paid hotel Wi-Fi - are insecure. Consider protecting your email and other data with encryption.

See also:

The 10 best Wi-Fi gadgets

Brits getting ripped off over holiday Wi-Fi

PC World