How to Travel With Alexa

Use your Echo or another device in a hotel? Of course you can!

An Alexa device set up while traveling on vacation.

Traveling with Alexa is nothing new. If you own any Alexa devices, you probably already take Alexa with you thanks to the phone app. But what about bringing an Alexa device, like an Echo or Dot, along while traveling? You can use your device just like you would at home, and Alexa can also act as your personal guide and concierge once you've reached your destination.

All you need to get set up is access to a Wi-Fi network, or you can even use your phone's internet connection in a pinch.

Should You Travel With Alexa?

If you have a smartphone, taking Alexa on vacation is as simple as installing the Alexa app. You probably already have the app, since it's a requirement for setting up Alexa devices, but did you know that Alexa is actually built right into it? Tap the Alexa icon in the app, and you can issue all the same commands that you would normally use with your Echo and other Alexa devices.

If you want to take it one step further, taking a physical Echo, Echo Dot, or any other Alexa-enabled device with you when you travel is really easy. All you have to do is provide it with access to a Wi-Fi network at your destination, tweak a few settings, and you'll be able to use it just as if you were at home.

Here are some of the things an Alexa device allows you to do while traveling:

  • Control your smart home devices: Want to make it seem like there's someone still at home? You can have Alexa turn your smart lights on or off, play music on Alexa devices in your house, or even turn your TV on if you have a Fire TV Cube, from anywhere in the world.
  • Listen to music: None of the local radio stations tickle your fancy? You can use your Alexa to stream music just like you would at home.
  • Help getting around your new location: Ride share services like Uber, and restaurant booking services like OpenTable, have Alexa skills that can help you explore your new surroundings.
  • Your own personal concierge: Without even adding any additional skills, Alexa is capable of directing you to local amenities and points of interest.
  • Hear what's on TV: Tired from all that exploration? Make sure Alexa knows where you are, and the time zone, and it can provide you with relevant TV listings.

That's just a small sampling of some of the most useful ways you might use Alexa while traveling. If there's anything you normally use Alexa for at home, you can use it the same way on the road.

How to Set Up An Alexa Device in Your Hotel Room

Setting up an Alexa device when you're traveling is a lot like setting up a brand new Alexa device. Once you've checked in at your destination, you'll have to provide your device with the name and password for the local Wi-Fi network, set your location and time zone, and there are also a few security-related tweaks that you may want to consider.

Driving to your destination? Consider bringing an Echo Dot. Plug it into a USB cigarette lighter adapter to use Alexa in your car during the drive, then set it up in your hotel or Airbnb rental once you're there.

Here's how to get your Alexa device up and running when you're traveling:

  1. Whether you're staying at a hotel, a condo, an Airbnb rental, or anywhere else, there's a good chance that internet access will be available. When you check in, ask if there is a complimentary Wi-Fi network, or if you will have to pay for acess. In either case, make sure to write down both the Wi-Fi network name and password.

    Connecting your Alexa device to the Wi-Fi network where you're staying uses the exact same process that you used to connect at home. The only difference is that you may need to press the action button on your Echo to manually enter setup mode.

    If Wi-Fi isn't available, you have two options:

    • Create a Wi-Fi network using your phone: This option requires you to tether your cell phone to create your own personal Wi-Fi network. Connect your Alexa to this network, and it will use your mobile data.
    • Create a Wi-Fi network using a travel router: This option only works if you have wired internet access in your room via an ethernet port. Connect a travel router to the ethernet port in your room, set up your own Wi-Fi network, then connect your Alexa to it.

    If you have trouble getting set up, check out our guide to common Alexa issues.

  2. Tell your Alexa the address where you will be staying.

    Location-based commands and skills, like asking Alexa for a quick weather report or for a TV guide, won't work right if Alexa doesn't know where you are. When you first unpack your Alexa, and connect it to Wi-Fi, it will think you're still at home.

    Changing this setting will also allow Alexa to act as your own personal concierge. If you're trying to find a local cafe or tourist trap, Alexa can provide you with phone numbers, hours of operation, and addresses.

    Open the Alexa app, and tap Devices. Tap Echo & Alexa > your echo device > Device Location. Then enter your new address, and tap Save.

  3. Tell Alexa the local time zone.

    Until you tell it otherwise, Alexa will assume that your time zone hasn't changed. That means any skill or command that relates to time will be skewed if you've traveled far enough from home. To fix this, you'll want to temporarily switch Alexa to the time zone that you're visiting.

    Open the Alexa app, and tap Devices. Tap Echo & Alexa > your echo device > Time Zone. Then select your new time zone, and tap Change.

  4. Consider temporarily re-configuring your flash briefing.

    Flash briefing is a feature that allows Alexa to provide you with a brief rundown of the current news. To keep up to date with local news, you may want to add some news sources that are relevant to your vacation or work destination.

    You can reconfigure your flash briefing by navigating to Settings > Flash Briefing. Swipe the toggles for any local news sources if you don't want to hear them while you're traveling, and tap Add Content to find local news sources from the place you're visiting.

  5. Add useful vacation and tourism skills.

    If you're traveling for pleasure, Alexa can help spice things up with skills that are aimed toward uncovering fun new things to do and see.

    To install useful skills, open the Alexa app on your phone and open the main menu. Then tap skills & games, and search for terms like vacation, tourism, or the name of the city you're visiting.

    Other apps, like Uber, Lyft, and OpenTable can also make it easier to explore your new surroundings.

  6. Lock down voice purchasing.

    If you will be leaving your Alexa device in your room when you aren't there, you might want to disable voice purchasing. While hotel staff probably isn't going to enter your room and use your Alexa to order you an expensive surprise, why take the chance?

    You can turn off voice purchasing in the Alexa app by navigating to Settings > Alexa Account > Voice Purchasing. Then toggle voice purchasing off.

  7. You can prevent other people from buying stuff with your Alexa when you aren't around, but there's no way to prevent unauthorized access to other things. One way to help reduce the likelihood of someone asking Alexa to read them your email, or provide access to any other sensitive information, is to temporarily switch your wake word.

    Amazon only allows you to choose from a small list of preset wake words, but switching to a less common one like "computer" may help.

  8. Disable your device's microphone when you leave the room.

This is another less than perfect way to prevent unauthorized access to your Alexa. The problem is that the mute button is right on the device, so a determined interloper simply has to locate your Alexa and turn the microphone back on.

To turn off the microphone, simply push the microphone or microphone/camera button on your device. To turn it back on later, push the same button again.

If you're really concerned about unauthorized access, you may want to unplug your Alexa when you leave your room, hide it in a desk drawer, or even take it with you. Alternatively, you may want to temporarily disable useful Alexa skills that allow your device to access sensitive information like your email.