Travel Tip: Use Wired Internet instead of WiFi

ethernet port

i'm currently traveling on the 2012 Adobe Nordic Design Tour. This means a different hotel each night or so. I spent the weekend in Sweden and my hotel (Radisson Blu) offered FREE WiFi throughout the hotel. All you need to do is confirm your room number, last name and accept the terms/conditions. Great! However, there was one major problem. The internet was almost unusable in the evenings because (and I'm guessing) that it was saturated with hotel guests. My connection dropped constantly and when I could get connected the speed reminded me of dial-up. Sadly, it wasn't until my last night at this particular hotel that I noticed an Ethernet port on the desk under the TV. Lately it has been my experience that when a hotel offers WiFi, that they pull the plug on the Ethernet ports in the guest rooms. However, i figured I had nothing to lose by plugging in and giving it a try. Not only was the port active, but it was about 10-20 times faster than the WiFi network!

 

Get the SpeedTest.net App I used above here from the iTunes

 

Yes, I still want wireless!

I carry an AirPort Express Base Station as part of my "always packed" travel gear. I plugged it in and in about 15 seconds I had my own private WiFi network that was way faster than the Radisson one and best of all I could put all my devices on it without having to do the terms and conditions setup, dropped connections, etc. on each one. 

You can get the AirPort Express Base Station Here. You might also want to carry a short ethernet cable as there wasn't one anywhere to be found in my room.

 

The Bottom Line

If you have the option of going wired vs. wireless, give it a shot. You'll probably get better performance not only because wired is faster, but because most people are going to connect to the public WiFi (overloading the routers) rather than the wired option. By having your own WiFi hotspot you still get the benefits of WiFi too! And yes, the wired connection in my room was also FREE.

The other benefit of a faster connection is faster VoIP calls, FaceTime, Skype, Netflix, Slingplayer, etc.  I was able to get so much more done with the faster connection, not the least of which was this blog post. :-)

  • http://www.bestappsite.com Jason Lykins

    I thought no one else knew about this! If my speeds start to drop the next time I’m in a hotel room hooked to a hard line I’m blaming you for letting the cat out of the bag! ;)

  • heikkipekka

    It’s interesting how a quality hotel (like Radisson Blu you were in) doesn’t prepare enough WiFi capacity now when all people carry multiple WiFi devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets and more).

    Imagine if a quality hotel wouldn’t be prepared to handle other services either for all guests. Say, no towels, no breakfast or no tableware for every guest. Or no electricity or no lights.

    Of all services WiFi is usually the one that is poorly adjusted for the demand.

  • http://www.ninisworld.com/wordpress/ Nini Tjäder

    Remember to also bring an adapter for the electricity as that varies from country to country. I ran around for a couple of days in Tel Aviv once to find a suitable adapter. But guess you know it varies.

  • http://blog.wetzelphoto.com Steve Wetzel

    Thanks for sharing the tip Terry. I did this in the past until I lost my airport express base station. I do miss not having my own little network in the hotel – it is so convenient. I just may have to pick up another airport express soon!

  • Mike Clemons

    Terry. You mention being able to use your airport express to set up your own wifi network. You mention you can put all your devices on it without having to do the set up thing on each one. That’s good.. my question is, many hotels want you pay for each device you bring on line, even with your own wifi setup. Is there a setting or work around I’m missing?

    great blog, thanks.

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Some hotels don’t have a problem with multiple devices, some do. In the case of using my Airport express with NAT the hotel sees/gives out one IP and the AirPort handles assigning multiple addresses to the other devices.

      MiFi is great and I have a couple. The problem arises when you travel internationally as data roaming can be quite expensive unless you buy local SIMs.

  • Price Taylor

    Mike, you are correct that many hotel’s wifi networks will disallow multiple devices/IP addresses. I think the only way that Terry (or anyone else) would get around this is to use wired ethernet and then the airport base station. Each other device in use would have to make sure that they are associating to that SSID and not the one in the hotel room.

    If you travel enough, go mobile router (aka MiFi), available from all the major carriers.

  • Chris

    I remember you posting about traveling with one of those and I picked one up right away and have been using it ever since, saved a ton of headaches with slow wifi..

    I love your mod for the LED :)

  • http://www.InklingBooks.com/ Michael W. Perry

    The problem with wired in that awful Ethernet connector, designed when computer meant a desktop PC. Apple would do the world a giant favor if it created a MagSafe-like design for wired connections. It’s also allow them to make slender, better looking laptops.

  • http://www.glyndewisblog.com Glyn Dewis

    Note to self: Put Ethernet cable in ThinkTank Airport Airstream :)

    Cheers for the tip Terry.

  • Robert Barnett

    I don’t use wifi any more than I have to. At home everything is wired no only for security but because it is much faster than wifi even if I am the only one using it. When I do have to use wifi I find it almost more trouble than it is worth. Do they really expect you to spend 5 minutes getting the wifi logon at my local McDonalds when I will be done with my meal in 10. I don’t think so. At hotels I won’t use wifi for security reasons. While it is unlikely someone is going to hack me a bunch of unknown people on a third parties net access is sure a great place to try. So when I am I use 3G this is why I have an iPhone and an iPad and will have a MacBook Air once they add 3G or better 4G to it.

    Robert

  • http://www.ronnipedersen.com Ronni Pedersen

    Great tip… Thanks for sharing…

  • AiméeCandelaPhoto

    Thank you Terry! I’ll be heading to Vegas for PSW next month and your post is exactly what I was looking for. I’m told that the hotel I’ll be staying at has wired internet. So if all goes well with the hotel’s internet and my airport express station I hope to achieve my own wireless connectivity so I can do my own work there.