Ever since Sharon and I 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 Wi-Fi 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. Thankfully, this happens much less often than it used to.
There’s a whole different problem we’ve discovered since Sharon purchased a Chromebook. She loves it because it’s really light (and was a ton cheaper than getting another MacBook). The 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 Wi-Fi 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 short list 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 to TunnelBear. I’ve discovered that when I’m trying to log in to a Wi-Fi network, it’s 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 Wi-Fi. This was how our MacBook always worked. However, I’ve learned that this doesn’t work with the Chromebook.
Try going directly to the Captive Portal Site For Your OS
This tip is appearing more frequently lately. The trick is to enter the website that your operating system uses to connect to W-iFi networks.
- Apple iOS and macOS: captive.apple.com
- Microsoft Windows: www.msftncsi.com/ncsi.txt
- Google Android and Chrome: google.com/generate_204
Try deleting third-party Wi-Fi apps
Some apps that help you find Wi-Fi 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, 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 Wi-Fi 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 still times 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.
I’m by no means an expert on this matter; I’m just sharing some of the tricks I’ve learned. Several readers have added tips in the comments section if none of these tricks help.
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