My favorite place to use the web when I'm traveling, or when my home service is out is Panera Bread. This may or may not have something to do with the frozen mocha's. Or the bagles. Or the chocolate duet cookies. They are also very friendly, and let me sit there until I'm done, as long as I'm not hogging a table during the lunch rush. They also have plenty of power outlets, in case your battery is running low.
I have a friend who has not paid for internet service at home for years. She prefers to use the computers at the public library, for free. She's also an avid reader, so she's able to spend entire afternoons in literary and communications heaven without spending a dime. Our local library also provides free internet service. Most libraries require a library membership for use of the computers, so this is a good local option (not so much for traveling). Again, there are usually plenty of power outlets available for the laptops.
Don't tell my friends at Panera, but come Christmas time, I may be spending a few nights using the new free wifi at Starbuck's, getting my peppermint mocha frapuccino fix. Starbucks is also a good option for travelers, as they are literally everywhere. I have not checked out the power-outlet situation yet, at Starbucks. If anyone has information on this, please let me know.
McDonald's is now advertising free wifi, as well. The problem with McDonald's is that I used their service when it was a paid service a few times (out of desperation), and found that there were NO power outlets, so your "free" service is only going to be helpful as long as your battery holds out.
Many hotels and motels offer free internet service (free wifi) for registered guests. If wireless service is important to you, be sure to check the website before making your reservation to see what the charge is per day for internet service.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.