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Conceptually, why do all options involve a server? If I somehow can securely "tunnel" to my server, I first have to tunnel through the WiFi hotspot, right? Am I not free to browse, safely, after securing this first step? (Sorry for the vagueness... This is as far as I understand these concepts.)

The original problem is that sending HTTP requests and such directly on the WiFi hotspot connection sends it as plaintext. Thus it readable by anybody. With an SSH tunnel, all that plaintext is actually encrypted before it sent out over the WiFi hotspot, which protects it from eavesdroppers over that segment of the connection.

Thank you for the explanation!

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