I’m an obsessive streamer, and that’s partly why my Roku Streaming Stick 4K was packed in my luggage before any clothes or toiletries went in.
For context: I knew the Airbnb I was staying at had a TV and Wi-Fi, so I knew I didn’t need more than my Roku. I also went with a friend who loves two of the same shows I do that were about to debut new episodes: The Rehearsal and Harley Quinn.
But while some might think packing my own Roku might be over the top, I knew it was the right decision. And wouldn’t you know it, I was right. So I thought I’d explain the two big reasons I always carry a Roku. Of course, if streaming doesn’t matter much to you — you’re on vacation, your time — you can skip it. But if you care about TV as unhealthy as I do, here’s what you need to know.
One-time entry of one password
Let’s say your hotel or Airbnb has a good TV, even a smart TV. This TV may even have its own streaming device included (more on that in a minute). But the real reason I found room in my luggage for the Roku Streaming Stick 4K dongle is simple: your host or hotel probably won’t offer you streaming services included.
So when I plugged my Roku into this TV, all I had to do was find the Wi-Fi password and enter it into the menu. I’ve since logged into every single app I subscribe to and certainly used them.
On Thursday and Friday, as I explained above, I watched a lot of HBO Max for the season 3 premiere of Harley Quinn and the third episode of The Rehearsal. But that was in the evenings.
When we hung out at the Airbnb, either in the morning (I’m an early riser) or mid-day when we went back for a nap, I watched YouTube Premium, the most underrated subscription payment I make every month. If you don’t know about YouTube Premium, it removes ads from YouTube videos — legally. I know some people use ad blockers, but that’s not for me.
Then on Saturday night when we got home from the event we were at (WWE’s SummerSlam 2022) we turned on the Peacock to re-watch some of the matches as we wanted to see how they were on TV.
Oh, and if you have Sling, YouTube TV, or one of the other top cable TV alternatives, bringing your own streaming device from home means faster access to your DVR. The variety of streaming services you use in any given week makes this even more pressing.
Rokus are better at hotel Wi-Fi (at least for me)
But what if you’re in a hotel? Hotel Wi-Fi is much more complicated than normal Airbnb Wi-Fi as there are screens where you have to enter your hotel room information etc. And streaming sticks don’t do well with them.
However, on a recent weekend at a hotel, I discovered that Rokus actually work with hotel Wi-Fi. This largely depends on your mileage and may vary, but in my testing Chromecast with Google TV and Fire TV Stick 4K Max couldn’t access the network.
Of course, you might not own a Roku. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K might be our pick for the best streaming device, but you might prefer Fire TV for side-loaded apps or Chromecast for whatever reason.
Either way, packing a streaming stick means you’re not relying on hotel room channel selection and expensive video-on-demand content.
Outlook: Make your vacation easier
You might think your phone is the only gadget you need on vacation. But I don’t think “staring at a video on a small screen” is a vacation. If you know your hotel or Airbnb has a large TV, take advantage of it.
By packing my own Roku on trips, I can make any room feel like home. Or at least I won’t have to type in my very long passwords that I store in one of the best password managers out there.