Using Your Airport Express to Get Free Hotel Wifi For All Your Devices

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Most hotels offer wifi.  Unfortunately, many of them charge for it – and worse yet, charge for it per laptop, iPhone, iPad, etc.  If you’re like me, this means a lot of devices.  Even if your hotel offers free wifi, it’s likely you have to enter some annoying access code every time you turn your device on.  This can be irritating when you just want to check the weather or, well, catch up on the news on the toilet.

Luckily, there’s a workaround if you travel with an Airport Express. An Airport Express is a handy little wifi box about the size of a laptop power brick. I always travel with one in case I need wifi someplace that only has wired internet.

If your room is lucky enough to have an ethernet cable hanging around, just plug it in to your Airport and you’re good to go. Usually, though, you won’t be so lucky.

The Airport Express advertises that it can boost an existing signal or create a new network. Unfortunately, neither of those will work in this situation.  It can only boost a signal of another Apple Airport, which no hotel will have – or create a network from an ethernet cable.  It’s unable to boost or change an existing wifi signal.  Your Macbook can also create a wireless network but, again, it can’t both receive and broadcast a wifi signal.

So the solution is a bit of a cheat.  It’s not ideal, but you will end up with your own private wifi for all your devices.  You’ll still need to pay or get access to one hotel wifi signal.  And our laptop will be tethered to an ethernet cable. But believe me, it can be worth it.

The trick is, we’ll use our laptop to receive the wifi and then share that wifi by ethernet cable with our Airport Express which will then broadcast it out to all our other devices.

Connect your laptop to your hotel’s wifi. Test to be sure you can surf.

Next, plug the Airport Express into the wall.

Connect an ethernet cable between the Airport Express and your MacBook. (You always travel with an ethernet cable, right?)

Go to your MacBook System Preferences>Sharing Panel.  Share your wifi signal via Ethernet as shown below.  If your items are grey and you can’t change them, turn Internet sharing off first.

Now open the Airport Utility. Select your Airport Express via Ethernet

Click on the picture of your Airport Express and choose Edit.

Under Internet, choose DHCP

Under Wireless, Choose Create a Wireless Network.  Choose WEP. Create a new password exactly 13 letters long.

Under Network, make sure it’s Off.

Click Update.

And there you go.  Now your Airport Express should be broadcasting a happy new network which you created.  You will only have to enter the password on your iPhones and iPads once. They’ll auto connect from then on. Even better, when you move hotels, the network settings will remain the same and all of your devices will automatically login to your private network.  You now have unlimited devices all seamlessly sharing your hotels annoying wifi.

Posted on: July 29, 2012 by Stephen