How to Stay Safe on Hotel WiFi: 4 Easy Tips

Digital Wellbeing

How to Stay Safe on Hotel WiFi: 4 Easy Tips

Staying connected is crucial when traveling, but beware – hotel WiFi can open up your devices to serious cyber threats. Free hotel networks may seem convenient but lurking hackers can spy on your activity and steal sensitive data.

Don’t let the dangers of hotel WiFi stop you from streaming movies or getting work done on the road. With a few precautionary steps, you can browse more securely and shield your privacy, even over unsecured public networks.

Read on to learn critical tips for staying safe online when connecting through a hotel and free public WiFi.

4 Tips to Stay Safe While using a Hotel Wifi

1. Using a VPN for Encryption

To better protect your data over hotel WiFi, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is highly recommended. Here’s how a VPN improves security:

What a VPN Does

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the network you’re using – in this case, the hotel WiFi. All your activity passes through this tunnel so that it cannot be spied on or intercepted. VPN encryption keeps your browsing, messaging, emails and other data safe from prying eyes.

Choosing a Reliable VPN

Make sure to choose a well-known, trustworthy VPN that offers robust encryption. Look for a no-log policy that prevents the VPN provider from tracking your activity. Top VPNs like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surf Shark offer excellent security for hotel WiFi usage.

Downloading a VPN Before Traveling

Be sure to download the VPN app and set up an account before your trip. Don’t wait until you’ve already connected to the hotel WiFi to enable your VPN, as your earlier activity could be exposed. Connect to the VPN first before accessing any apps or services.

2. Practicing Basic Safety Measures

In addition to using a VPN, there are some other basic safety steps to follow on hotel connections:

Avoid Sensitive Activities

It’s best to avoid accessing sensitive accounts like banking and financial apps over hotel WiFi. Even with a VPN, public networks pose risks for accounts with personal information. Hold off on ecommerce as well.

Turn Off Sharing Settings

Make sure sharing settings are disabled so that your device doesn’t automatically connect with other devices over the network. You don’t want your laptop or phone visible to other guests.

Use HTTPS Websites

When browsing on hotel WiFi, stick to sites that use HTTPS encryption with “https://” URLs. HTTP sites transmit unencrypted data that could be intercepted.

3. Using Wired Connections When Possible

For even more security beyond WiFi, use a wired ethernet connection in hotels when you can. Here are some tips:

Wired Networks Are More Secure

Wired internet connections don’t transmit data through the air like WiFi does. There’s less risk of your activity being intercepted by others on the network. Wired hotel networks are typically more secure with stronger encryption as well.

Traveling with an Ethernet Cable

Carry an ethernet cable with you when traveling to hotels so you can plug directly into wired jacks in rooms. Some hotels still provide wired ports – take advantage of them for safety.

Plugging Into Wired Ports in Room

When you get to your hotel room, check for an ethernet port you can plug into with your cable. Wired connections bypass any risks from the hotel WiFi.

4. Being Cautious on All Public Networks

Hotel WiFi obviously isn’t the only place you need to be cautious. Remember to follow safety steps whenever connecting through public networks:

Hotel WiFi Isn’t the Only Risk

Airport WiFi, coffee shop networks, conferences, and other places all pose similar risks as hotel connections. Never assume any public network is truly secure.

Airport, Cafe, and Mall Networks Too

Wherever you use public WiFi – at the airport, your local cafe, the mall – take precautions like using a VPN, avoiding sensitive apps, and sticking to HTTPS sites.

Follow Safety Steps Everywhere

Don’t let your guard down just because you aren’t traveling. Follow the same hotel WiFi safety advice on any public network to keep your browsing secure.

The Risks of Using Hotel WiFi

When you’re traveling and staying in a hotel, it’s tempting to connect to the free hotel WiFi to check emails, get work done, or stream movies. However, hotel WiFi networks come with a number of risks that can put your data and devices in danger. Here’s what you need to know about the risks and how to stay safe when using hotel internet.

Your Data Can Be Intercepted

One major risk with hotel WiFi is that your data can be more easily intercepted since hotel networks are often less secure. That means your emails, messages, and browsing activity could be monitored or stolen by cyber criminals lurking on the same network. Sensitive information like credit card details, account passwords, or private communications could be compromised.

Connecting Devices Are Vulnerable

Not only is your data at risk, but your devices themselves when connecting to hotel WiFi. Hackers can potentially gain access to laptops, phones, and tablets connected to the network and infect them with malware. Once a device is infected, your data and privacy are in danger. Hotel networks often lack strong firewalls and other protections.

Unsecured Networks Can Be Hacked

With poorer encryption and security measures than private WiFi, hotel networks are also susceptible to being hacked. Hackers can create fake WiFi hotspots to trick users into connecting and then steal their data. Or they can exploit vulnerabilities in the network to breach the broader system and spy on all connected guests.


Hotel WiFi can seem convenient for getting online easily while traveling. However, hotel networks also come with substantial security risks that can put your data, devices, and privacy in jeopardy.

By taking steps like using a reliable VPN, avoiding sensitive apps, choosing wired connections, and staying cautious on all public networks, you can use hotel and public WiFi more safely.

Don’t let the dangers of hotel WiFi stop you from getting online – just remember to take the proper security precautions.


  • Should I avoid hotel WiFi altogether?
    While hotel WiFi does pose risks, you don’t necessarily have to avoid it if you take the right security measures like using a VPN, choosing HTTPs sites, and not accessing sensitive accounts. However, a wired connection is safer if available.
  • What’s the most secure hotel WiFi?
    There is no hotel brand that offers completely secure, hack-proof WiFi. However, larger chains likely invest more in network security than independent hotels. The most secure option is still a wired connection.
  • Is it safe to stream on hotel WiFi?
    Streaming movies or shows is generally safe on hotel WiFi if using HTTPS sites and a VPN, as there’s no sensitive account data being transmitted. However, a wired connection is better for streaming large files without buffering.
  • Should I avoid internet banking on hotel networks?
    It’s highly recommended to avoid accessing any sensitive financial accounts over hotel WiFi, even if using a VPN. The risks remain too high for sharing banking login details or personal info. Stick to general browsing.
  • Are paid hotel WiFi networks safer?
    In some cases paid networks are more secure, as the hotel likely invests more in a network customers are paying for. But there is no guarantee paid hotel WiFi is necessarily safer than free networks. Take precautions like VPN regardless of paid or free access.