The Pros and Cons of Traveling With an Apple TV

It takes preparation and planning

What to Know

  • Connect a Wi-Fi router to hotel broadband, then connect the Apple TV to your personal Wi-Fi network.
  • Connect to hotel Wi-Fi with your computer, then plug the Apple TV into your computer to join the network.
  • Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot with your smartphone and wirelessly connect your Apple TV (may incur data charges).

This article explains how to connect your Apple TV to wired broadband or Wi-Fi when traveling or on vacation.

How to Get Apple TV Online While Traveling

While most hotels offer guests flat-screen TVs, they may not provide broadband connections or free Wi-Fi. Some hotels charge guests high fees to go online.

Before you travel, check with your destination to confirm it can 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.

Aside from the Apple TV box and Siri Remote, you need an HDMI cable, Ethernet cable, Lightning-USB cable, and the Apple TV power cord. You may need a portable Wi-Fi router and an HDMI-to-VGA adapter with audio support.

Apple TV 4k device
AdrianHancu / Getty Images

Use a Broadband Connection

If you can plug into a wired broadband connection, take a portable Wi-Fi router with you to create your own Wi-Fi network. This lets you bring your Apple TV online.

Use a Wi-Fi Connection

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

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

Another option is to use your phone's cellular connection to set up a temporary Wi-Fi network—called a hotspot—to support Apple TV in your hotel room. While this action incurs data charges unless you have a generous network provider, you can get online reasonably quickly.

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

Add Your Apple TV to the Network

Not every guest-focused Wi-Fi service is alike. While some destinations seem happy to let their guests join the network, others require you to access the network using an online form. This doesn't work for an Apple TV because 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, although you need to give them its MAC address.

To find the MAC address for your Apple TV, go 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 slow and have 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 have on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone rather than 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.

Your location can also halt your entertainment plans even if you can access content with your Apple TV. Streaming services identify your location before sending content and will deny access if you're in a location without the proper 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, you can 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 can watch video streams in multiple formats from multiple sources, including local network playback, remote playback, and network streaming playback. 

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