Google Chromecast For Travel
NOTE: This article is specifically about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Google Chromecasts (including the ultra) release between 2013 and 2018. For the new 4th Generation Google Chromecast with Google TV for travel check out our blog post specifically about that.
Google Chromecast For Travel (Generations 1-3)
How well does the Google Chromecast work for travel, and how does it compare to other devices? We dive into how the most popular small formal streaming sticks that are physically ideal for travel do in actual travel scenarios. This includes how resilient it is with potentially inconsistent Hotel WiFi, some common problems and solutions you might need while away from home with your Chromecast.
We’ve recently recently tested a number of streaming sticks to determine which streaming devices are best for travel. I you are interested in knowing the other options available and how they compare, check out our Best Streaming Sticks for Travel.
Hotel/Airbnb WiFi Support
The Chromecast generally must be on the same WiFi network as the controlling device. While you can configure the Chromecast for each hotel, the straight forward configuration does not work on hotel WiFi due to the captive portal you must log into. More on that below. Also many hotel WiFi networks are set up to limit the ability of different devices to talk to each other as a security precaution.
While some AirBnb networks have WiFi limitations, they are generally not as limiting hotel WiFi networks. If you primarily stay in Airbnb’s while traveling, the Google Chromecast should work fine as long you reconfigure it for each Airbnb.
Both of these limitations can be avoided by using a travel router. With a travel router you would not need to reconfigure the Chromecast. Even in the case of hotels where you may not be able to use your Chromecast on their network, a travel router generally will allow you to easily use your Chromecast.
What are captive portals? They are the popups you get that prompt you to login or provide additional information prior to using the Hotel, AirBnb or other locations WiFi. Captive portal are rarely used at most AirBnb’s. However, for regular hotel travelers they are a primary feature for sure. Very few hotels allow you to use their WiFi without accepting terms and conditions, entering a room name, an additional password screen or other consideration.
Google Chromecast does not support captive portals at all. However, if you connect with a phone or other device that does support captive portals and then configure the Chromecast, it can in some instances still use the connection, but it’s generally the exception. If you stay at a lot of hotels that use a captive portal, the Chromecast is not going to be a great choice.
A travel router can help you avoid this limitation. With a travel router once you pass the captive portal on one device, usually your phone or laptop, any additional devices you connect will work normally.
Automatic Remote Config
Something rarely discussed by non-travel sites is the automatic remote configuration feature of many streaming sticks. While at home setting up your remote is a one time need, at least until you buy a new TV. When traveling each new location has a new TV. If you want to be able to use a single remote to control the volume and power on your TV and your streaming stick, you’ll likely want a device that can automatically detect the TV.
Since the Chromecast does not have a remote, it does not support this feature. You’ll need to continue to use the remote that came with the TV to control the volume.
In our recent comparison of Streaming Stick Wifi Performance, the Google Chromecast placed last. While the Chromecast is reasonably resilient to poor WiFi it degraded and stop working under half the conditions the Roku and Amazon sticks did.
This does not necessarily make it a bad choice for travel. It’s low cost and the chance you may already have one mean it can still be a viable choice. However, if you are looking to purchase a dedicated streaming device for travel, you may want to consider some of the other players.
Common Problems and Solutions
Finding Power For Your Google Chromecast In A Hotel – Many hotel rooms don’t make it easy to find power sources for your streaming stick. Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you.
Changing Input On Hotel TVs – many hotel TVs don’t make it easy or obvious how to change the input on the TV. This guide will provide a few tips and tricks.