How to Pack your Streaming Apps for your Next Vacation Movie Night

After a fun vacation day on the slopes, my family settled in for a movie on our hotel room TV. Here’s how we did that using my existing Apple ecosystem.

I recently returned from a little skiing vacation with my family at Mount Bousquet in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We hadn’t been on the slopes for a couple years due to the pandemic, so it felt great to practice some downhill again. (That’s our son having fun on a snowboard in my above photo.)

Pack your Apple TV for your Next Vacation
During our time in the hotel room, I tried using a particularly useful vacation tech trick I’d learned a while back. I had brought our Apple TV puck with us with the intent to jack it into the hotel’s WiFi network. This would allow me to access our entire arsenal of streaming apps and create movie nights using the room’s big TV screen. (Doing this effectively sidesteps having to purchase anything additional from a hotel as long as the base-level WiFi can handle streaming.)

Sadly, the streaming apps on my Apple TV didn’t work this time, because the hotel’s WiFi required a multiple-step login process, which the Apple TV couldn’t access beyond the password step.

Fortunately, I had also packed a lightning to HDMI adapter for my iPhone. (It’s always good to have a backup plan, when vacation movie night hangs in the balance.)

Using this dongle, I was able to substitute in my iPhone as the streaming source and connect it directly to our hotel room’s HDTV via its HDMI cable. Then, my iPhone effortlessly served up the Disney movies we wanted via its Disney+ app.

Tech Ethics
You could say my streaming strategy unfairly took advantage of the hotel’s WiFi network, possibly slowing down WiFi speeds for others. But my iPhone ended up tethering to its cellular connection using its AT&T wireless data plan. So I don’t have to debate tech ethics here (not this time).

I pay for unlimited data on my AT&T account. So, in a sense, I’m already paying full price for my movie tickets while streaming. That said, I’m very happy not to be concerned about blowing through any data limits while on vacation!

Ensuring that Screen Time = Family Time
And why all my effort to project a movie onto a hotel room’s TV? Can’t an iPad or iPhone screen suffice during vacation? Not for me and my family. If you’re also a parent with kids, I imagine you might agree that screen time is a complicated topic.

The last thing I want to do is generate more opportunity for little eyeballs to stare at little screens, separate from the larger family focus.

If there is to be movie screen time on vacation, it’s great when it’s part of a larger family activity…experienced together.

Vacation Tech Joy
When bringing extra tech with you to create your family movie nights on vacation, please don’t forget to pack up all of the pieces before you leave. (Adapters have a way of disappearing if you’re not careful.)

And do put the hotel TV cabling back together. The next family may just want to turn on the TV without ‘Frankensteining’ together their own mini movie theater.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy screaming “It’s alive!” whenever I get my vacation TVs to work. A little tech joy always adds to my overall vacation experience.

In fact, I highly recommend it.