Ever since Sharon and I have started writing Your Mileage May Vary, we’ve learned that having reliable internet access is a necessity when we’re traveling. That’s not such a big problem now that most hotel rooms offer WiFi connections. But even those connections aren’t always the best and occasionally we’ll find ourselves sitting in a hotel lobby updating the website because we just can’t connect from the room.
In the meantime, there’s a whole different problem we’ve discovered, particularly since Sharon purchased a Chromebook. While she loves it because it’s really light and tends to load webpages faster than even her desktop (and was a ton cheaper than getting another MacBook), its main drawback is that it requires an internet connection to do almost anything. More than once, we’ve gotten to a hotel and turned on the computer only to see this:
We’ll connect to the WiFi network of the hotel but nothing happens. Or we’re supposed to go to the login page to provide the password so we can get onto the network but we can’t even get to the page to enter the information.
It tends to be my job to fix things that are technically oriented (Note from Sharon: That’s right, Dear. You do the techie stuff and I do the proofreading). Through trial, error and some hunting on the internet, here’s a shortlist of the things I’ve discovered that have worked to help get us back online:
Turn off your VPN
We always use a VPN when traveling (and you should, too!), and as I mentioned not long ago, we’ve switched from WiTopia to TunnelBear for the Chromebook. I’ve discovered that when I’m trying to log in to a WiFi network, it’s been necessary to deactivate the VPN service (I make sure to turn it right back on when I get online). I try to use a new browser window so I remember not to load any pages before reconnecting the VPN service.
Try reloading any webpage
Sometimes, it’s just as simple as reloading a webpage to prompt your browser to show the login page for the hotel WiFi. This was how our MacBook always worked. However, I’ve learned that this doesn’t work with the Chromebook.
Try deleting third-party WiFi apps
Some apps that help you find WiFi networks might be keeping you from logging into other networks. I’ve had fewer problems since deleting these apps from my phone.
Go to the webpage for the hotel chain where you’re staying
This one can be a bit tricky, as it’s a hit or miss process. I’ll usually start at the specific page for the hotel chain. That means the actual brand, not the chain.
For example, if you’re staying at a Courtyard by Marriott you’d need to go to the Courtyard by Marriott page and not the Marriott home page. The trick is knowing what the home page website is for the chain you are staying at. We had a small problem finding the Waldorf Astoria website. http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/index.html isn’t a website I’d remember. Luckily, www.waldorfastoria.com forwards you to the home page.
Every time I’ve tried this, the login page for the WiFi network loads and I’m able to enter my information and get online. For this reason, I try to remember and check the website for the hotel before we leave (and even leave a tab in the browser open) where I can just refresh that page.
Look online for help
While these tricks have worked for us, there are sometimes I still can’t get online. The biggest problems have come when I’ve had to connect to networks in conference rooms or hotel lobbies. Searching the internet, I found a resource that helped me get online when nothing else would. This article from Zapier.com, while Mac-centric, does have some really good tricks like trying to log into the router address or using an incognito/private browser window. Since you’re probably not going to be able to get to the website to look up what you need to do, you can get a PDF copy of the document by signing up for their blog
(or you can just print the webpage as a PDF file yourself).
I’m by no means an expert on this matter, I’m just sharing some of the tricks I’ve learned. I’m sure that some of you out there who are on the road much more than us might have some other tips. Feel free to comment here or to the link for this article on our Facebook page. We’ll update the article as we go (and even give you a shout out for your contribution).
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary