How to Take Your Apple TV on Vacation

It takes preparation and planning

Apple TV can be addictive. Watch whatever you want, whenever you want, from anywhere. Listen to music, educate yourself, play games, and much more. But when you go on vacation, you may miss your Apple TV and find a hotel's entertainment options limited by comparison.

Bringing your Apple TV on vacation with you is possible, but traveling with your Apple TV isn't easy and requires planning and preparation.

Aside from the Apple TV and Siri Remote, you'll need an HDMI cable, ethernet cable, Lightning-USB cable, and an Apple TV power cord. You may need an AirPort Express or portable Wi-Fi router and an HDMI-to-VGA adapter (with audio support).

Getting Apple TV Online

New Apple TV 4k console device against yellow background
AdrianHancu / Getty Images

While many hotels offer guests flat-screen TVs, they don’t all offer broadband connections or free Wi-Fi. Some hotels even insist on charging guests high fees to go online.

Before you travel, check with your destination to make sure they will be able to provide you with either a Wi-Fi network to which you can join your Apple TV or a wired broadband connection you can plug into directly in your hotel room.

Using a Broadband Connection

If you are able to plug into a wired broadband connection, take an AirPort Express or another portable Wi-Fi router with you so you can create your own Wi-Fi network, which will let you bring your Apple TV online.

Learn how to turn your Windows computer or Mac into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Using a Wi-Fi Connection

If you don’t have a broadband connection to plug directly into, your options are a little more limited.

One option is to use your Mac or PC to join the Wi-Fi network, and then bring your Apple TV onto the network by plugging the computer into your Apple TV via an ethernet cable. 

Another option is to use your iPhone’s 4G connection to set up a temporary Wi-Fi network to support Apple TV in your hotel room. While this will incur data charges unless you have a generous network provider, you'll be able to get online reasonably fast.

Have Your Apple TV Added to the Network

Not every guest-focused Wi-Fi service is alike. While some destinations seem quite happy to let all their guests join the network, others require you to access the network using an online form. This won't work for an Apple TV, as it doesn’t have a built-in web browser.

There are options, however. A hotel's tech support crew may be able to add your Apple TV to the network manually, though you will need to give them its MAC address.

To find the MAC address, navigate to Settings > General > About and look for Wi-Fi address. There will be a 12-digit hexadecimal code. Write this down before you travel and affix it to the bottom of your Apple TV so you can give it to tech support.

To get in touch with your hotel's tech support, check with the front desk or find the internet-access information in your room.

Troubleshooting Speed and Location Issues

Before you travel, find out how fast the hotel network is. Some hotel networks are quite slow, with multiple guests sharing bandwidth and using the network at the same time.

A slow network means the content you're streaming will lag and stutter. Movies may stop, and navigating to new shows may take a while. In this situation, use your Apple TV to stream content you already have on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone rather than try to access new content online.

If you download a movie via the iTunes Store, choose the Standard Definition format for a better viewing experience on a slow network.

Be aware that your location can also halt your entertainment plans even if you can access content with your Apple TV. Streaming services will identify your location before they send content and deny access if you're in a location without the right copyright clearance. Make sure you understand what apps will function and what you can stream before you head to your getaway.

Apple TV Alternatives

If you decide that traveling with your Apple TV isn't going to work, consider connecting your iPhone or iPad to whatever screen is available using the Lightning Digital AV Adaptor and an HDMI cable.

With a fast network and a generous data allowance, this will allow you to stream movies without sharing your MAC address or jumping through all the hoops required to get an Apple TV online away from home.

Consider linking up to a home media server, such as VLC, When you link VLC with your Apple TV, you are able to watch video streams in multiple formats from multiple sources, including local network playback, remote playback, and network streaming playback.