A lot of hotels these days charge you “per device” to connect to the Internet. For a while there, it was easy to take a travel router with you, plug the router into the hotel Ethernet and create your own network from there. What I have found recently is that a lot more hotels are just using wifi – ie no Ethernet connection at all. That complicates things a little, but there is a solution using a router and computer. I used an Airport Express and a Macbook, but the same should work with any router and a Windows PC (although I have never done it with a Windows device). This is how I got it to work.
1. I plugged in my Airport Express and did a hard reset. You don’t need to do this if it is already configured. I did this just to be sure that it was configured as I needed.
2. I then proceeded to configure my Airport Express to create my own new local network. I connected to the Airport Express using the Airport Utility on my Mac. Make sure you select “create a new network” so that you get your own local network to use. Set up the SSID and passwords as you like.
3. Then I connected my Macbook to the Hotel Wifi using the Macbook wifi settings (don’t use the router yet). Logged in at the login page and got my Internet access working on my Macbook.
4. The fourth step is that I set up my Macbook to share my Internet connection that has already been establised with my Macbook. Normally you would share an incoming Ethernet connection over Wifi, but in this case you need to do the opposite. Go to Systems Preferences\Sharing and configure Internet Sharing. You need to “configure” the sharing before you turn it on with the check box. So while the checkbox is NOT checked, select “Share your connection from ” and set it to “WIFI”. This tells your Macbook that the incoming Internet Connection is coming via Wifi.
Then set “to computers with” and select Ethernet (what ever flavour you have on your Macbook (I have “Thunderbolt Ethernet”). This tells your Macbook to send the Internet Connection out through your Ethernet Port. Once configured correctly, then turn it on with the checkbox.
5. The last step is to plug an Ethernet cable from your Macbook to the Airport Express.
The end result is that the Internet connection comes in from the Hotel wifi into your Macbook Wifi, and is then routed out through your Macbook Ethernet into the Airport Express Ethernet. Your Airport Express then detects the incoming Ethernet as an open Internet connection which it then re-broadcasts over your own personal Wifi Network just as if the Internet were coming from your broadband provider. You are then able to connect all of your mobile devices to your new local network over wifi.