I don't travel with a smart phone and I don't want to.
My netbook battery died during my trip and I tried and failed to get a new or reconditioned one in China.
Because I'm hitchhiking I sometimes end up in a cheap hotel with no internet, but I need to research the next day's travels, finding the ways to expressways, tollbooths, service areas, etc, and hostels for upcoming destinations.
Generally I've already researched this info but sometimes I omit an important detail, and other times I lose it all while trying to sneak a peak at the computer without AC power.
In tourist cities there will be hostels with Wi-Fi. But sometimes even then you arrive in the city and need to get to the hostel.
Some chain restaurants like KFC and Dico's have Wi-Fi, but only rarely do they have power sockets.
I had this problem last night in Baotou, the second-largest city in Inner Mongolia where there was no hostel, and again this afternoon in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia.
Asking people in English doesn't work. They don't understand my attempts at Chinese. Sometimes they can direct me to a place with Wi-Fi, but asking for electricity always stumps them, in English or Chinese. Cafes seem to be hidden in cool areas or student areas, which are not easy to find if you're new.
Are there any foolproof methods that have much higher success rates than my haphazard attempts outlined above?