Hotel wifi stinks. Here are four tips to deal with it.

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Maybe you’ve experienced panic before, like I did last week.

I was traveling for work and during an important video call in my hotel room the wifi dropped and we disconnected. Early the next morning, my laptop kept booting off the internet in the room while I was trying to meet a deadline.

I was tired, still in my pajamas and stressed.

Bad WiFi in your hotel room is not the most pressing problem in the world. But when you’re paying for a home (and office) away from home, you expect a few amenities: a cozy bed, a hot shower, and reliable Internet access.

You can’t fix the internet in your hotel. But you’re not completely powerless in the face of that flaky hotel Wi-Fi.

Why is internet in hotels often terrible?

Distributing internet access to all rooms is complicated, and hotels don’t usually treat WiFi as a priority.

Many hotels know that their guests expect Internet access, but that doesn’t mean it has to be good. Hotel internet equipment and software may not have kept up with your penchant for video streaming, zoom calls, and other data-stealing activities.

“You haven’t necessarily invested in the best WiFi,” said David Henry, president and general manager of connected home products and services at NETGEAR, an internet equipment manufacturer.

Hotels are also crammed with WiFi-blocking obstacles like walls, electrical devices, and other people all sharing limited internet bandwidth.

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But that’s no excuse. It’s also difficult to pipe hot water to 100 rooms with people showering at the same time. You don’t condone plumbing chores and you shouldn’t accept unreliable internet.

What you can do: Try to move

If you’re having trouble, test if some parts of your hotel room have a stronger internet connection. On my flaky video call, stepping away from the window seemed to help.

Parking in an uncrowded hotel lobby or business center with a separate Internet port could be an improvement over the in-room Wi-Fi shared by 50 rooms.

Some hotels offer basic internet service included in the room rate, and faster WiFi if you pay extra. I hate this but a few internet experts said the paid tier might be a good bet.

If most people aren’t paying for the Zippy service and you are, then you’re using a less crowded internet lane.

Sascha Meinrath, a professor of telecommunications at Penn State University, suggested asking the hotel staff (friendly) if you could switch rooms.

He said that hotels can reserve rooms for loyal guests or VIPs, and the internet service there is likely to be better. I’m not bold enough to ask for an upgrade, but you could try.

The front desk staff isn’t your tech support, but it might be worth asking them about your in-room WiFi issues as well. You may know areas of the hotel with better internet service.

(What have you found helpful for accessing the internet while traveling? Email me at [email protected])

Use your phone as a WiFi hotspot

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Depending on your cellular plan, you may be able to use your phone to beam WiFi to your laptop.

You may need to ask your phone company or look up instructions on using your phone as an Internet hotspot. (Here are FAQs from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.)

This isn’t a great solution if you travel a lot. If you use your phone as a Wi-Fi hub, chugging through data and your battery, you may be billed extra and the phone company may slow down your connection.

You can also buy dedicated mobile hotspots, although this will add another phone bill to your budget.

Don’t keep crappy hotel WiFi a secret

Not everyone cares about the same hotel amenities. A pool in the hotel may be important to you, but not to me. Unreliable WiFi is a deal breaker for me and maybe not for you.

However, if quality internet service is important to you, let the hotel know in customer feedback and reviews.

“The ball is in the consumer’s hands to increase relevance for hoteliers,” Henry said.

Travel websites are not necessarily helpful to empower you.

After my hotel stay, I wanted to see if other people had complained about the hotel’s stubborn WiFi on sites like and Travelocity. It was almost impossible to browse reviews for specific amenities or terms like “Wi-Fi”.

And while these travel sites typically list whether a hotel offers internet service and whether it costs extra, they don’t seem to rate quality.

Expedia Group, which owns travel sites like Expedia, and Travelocity, said search results include a “travel experience” filter for properties with “business-friendly” amenities like Wi-Fi. You can also choose to only read reviews from business travelers. I did not find these options helpful.

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After I checked out of my wifi dead zone hotel, it emailed me a feedback survey. I usually ignore such things. This time I replied and said I probably wouldn’t stay at the hotel again because I couldn’t rely on the WiFi.

I felt like I had done my small part in helping future guests in their pajamas meet their work deadlines.

If you’ve heard scary stories about security risks from using WiFi in hotels and cafes, relax. It’s safe for most people to use shared public WiFi. Do not do that. Four mistakes you make with the internet at home.

i love rules Here’s my colleague Chris Velazco’s golden rule for gadgets:

“Unless it’s seriously broken and you got it less than two years ago, don’t even think about replacing it.”

For phones new and old, repairs could be a good return on your investment, says Chris. You could spend $100 or more at a repair shop to replace your battery to fix your broken screen. It’s not cheap, but it’s a bargain compared to the cost of a new device.

Read (and see) more from Chris on when it’s wise to buy a new device and when it’s not.

Tech reporter Chris Velazco helps his peers decide whether or not to consider upgrading their smartphones. (Video: Monica Rodman/Washington Post)