Many people have been talking (writing) about Marriott finally moving to allow all Marriott Reward members (free to sign-up) to get free WiFi on stays booked through Marriott. That is a good move to make since there was not really a standard across the brand before – some of the lower cost Marriott brands would have (fast) free WiFi while the mid-tier and upper-tier Marriott brands only offered it free to their elites. If you are a member of the Marriott Rewards program and make your reservation through official Marriott channels, you will be able to enjoy their free WiFi come January 15.
Why Free WiFi At Hotels Is Not A Must
But, that is not really too much of a concern for me one way or another. I have stayed at some Marriotts this year as a Gold member (so free WiFi) and I still had some problems at a couple of them. The internet was not that strong at all (there is a faster service but that requires a daily subscription) and I was sitting there waiting and waiting for pages to load. But that is not just isolated to Marriotts! I have experienced that at many hotels and it can certainly be a drag when I am trying to get some work done.
There are still many hotels that either do not have good WiFi or they charge for WiFi but most hotels do still have a wired connection in the room. The problem is this – I have not had a computer with an ethernet port in several years! But that is ok because I always carry my favorite hotel accessory with me that allows me to plugin and set up my own network quickly.
Create Your Own WiFi Network
One of the problems with hotel WiFi is the codes they hand out to allow you to access the (complimentary) WiFi. Those codes often limit how many devices can log on and also often have a time limit (like 24 hours) that they are good for. I cannot tell you how many times one of those codes cut off on me and would not let me log back in even though I was still within my 24 hours. Not very helpful!
As for the device limit, for a person traveling alone in 2014, it is not inconveivable that that person might have 3 devices that need to connect to the WiFi – smartphone, tablet, and laptop. There have been some hotels with a 2 device limit. Well, when I am traveling with my wife, throw in two more devices and we are over the limit allowed by many hotels (4 devices).
But, since I carry my own mini WiFi router with me, I can setup my WiFi off of the ethernet cable quickly and I am good to go. I have used it at hotels all over the world, even when a hotel offers WiFi, this router can often be the better option. While I have encountered hotels that no longer have ethernet cables, they have been very few and far between.
Here is some of a post I wrote earlier this year about my favorite hotel accessory. I have already given several of these away (little tip – be on the lookout in the next several weeks as one of these will be a part of a mega giveaway week!) and I know that the recipients have benefitted from them as much as I have.
The TP-Link Mini-Router
The router is the tp link tl-mr3020. It is a very small device that will actually disappear in your bag and only takes 20 seconds to set up when you arrive at your hotel. It has the ability to accept a 3G/4G USB modem as well so that you can even setup a network with nothing but your wireless modem.
In addition to the simplicity it has, it also offers WPS for fast, push-button security. As well as the security factors, it is OpenWRT capable to allow for the setting up of a VPN. This is also a huge plus!
At a price of only $30 from Amazon (less in the Warehouse Deals), it definitely will not break the bank and is a guarantee to be your best friend at hotels! One of the reasons that I like the device is the ability to have good, strong WiFi in whatever hotel you visit. Even in 2014, it is still possible to stay in a hotel with only a wired hotel connection or really bad, spotty WiFi.
One more nice thing about this router is that you can actually power it from your computer via USB. It ships with a power adapter, but it has the ability to be powered with nothing but your laptop.
Here is the link to amazon for the device (I do earn a commission if you purchase it using this link).
Another router that has received several positive reviews and is touted as the world’s smallest router is the Asus WL-330NUL N150. It is also in the $30-35 range and I will be picking one of them up to try on a future trip – it certainly is tiny! If you would rather go for that one, here is a link to Amazon’s page for it (I earn a commission if you purchase this through this link as well – thank you!)
What is your strategy for internet at hotels? Do you rely on the hotel’s WiFi or do you bring your own?