Many travelers choose to bring their favorite game console with them to their destination. In this article we are focusing on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, but most of the information would apply to traveling with other consoles as well. Naturally if you intend to do a lot of traveling with a game console a smaller unit such as an Xbox Series S may be a better choice.
As with most things travel related, planning is everything. The last thing you want is to accidentally damage your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S because you did not properly protect it. You will also make sure the TV in your hotel will support connecting a console. Many do, some don’t, hotels usually use special hospitality TVs that are not like the ones used in homes. Planning is the single most important step you can take to set yourself up for success.
Packing Your Suitcase
The way that you pack your console in your suitcase will play an important factor in preventing damage. This is especially important if you are flying, but also applies to other modes of travel. There are several ways that you could pack your console in your suitcase.
Use the Original Packaging
If you still have the original box that your console was packaged in you may want to consider using it to protect your console in your suitcase. The packaging that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S comes in is perfect for this.
If you recently purchased a console and still have the box you may wish to save the box for travel. This is the easiest way to box up your console and offers a great level of protection. Once your console is in its original packaging you can simply place it in your suitcase making sure it is unable to slide around.
Use a Box of Suitable Size
If you do not have the original packaging, another great option is to use a cardboard box of similar size. Place your console in the box and use packaging material to protect it on all sides. I generally prefer to use air cushion pillows for padding as they are environmental friendly and do not make a mess the way that foam often does. Once again, do not tape the box shut if you are flying and plan on putting your console in your carry-on suitcase.
Pack it in Your Suitcase Without Using a Box
Your final option when traveling with an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S is to not use a box at all. This is perhaps the riskiest option since it could leave your console vulnerable to damage, especially if you are flying.
With this method, you are going to want to place soft objects on all sides of your console. Clothes, towels, and other fabrics work well for providing padding. This option is probably best suited to a road trip where you are the only person handling the suitcase. You will want to take extra care to ensure that nothing can fall on the suitcase. This packing option offers the least protection and would not be my preferred option.
Packing an Xbox for Flight
If using the original box, do not tape the box shut if you are planning on putting your console in your carry-on suitcase. Generally, you will be required to take your console out of the box at the TSA security checkpoint. If you have TSA PreCheck you may not need to take it out, but in some cases, you still may be required to.
If you are not using a box be especially careful when packing your Xbox for flight. Many times suitcases get dropped or rough housed by baggage handlers. Consider adding extra padding around your Xbox within your luggage.
Bringing an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S on Airplane
According to the TSA, you are permitted to pack your console in either your checked bag or your carry-on suitcase. With this out of the way, let’s discuss this, checked bag or carry-on? The carry-on option is going to be your best bet if you want to ensure that your console arrives safely to your destination.
There are a few issues with putting your console in your checked luggage. The primary issue is the way bags often get handled getting on and off airplanes. Even the Baggage carousels can cause damage. Some airports use chutes that essentially drop your bag onto the carousel. Your best option is to put your console in your carry-on. If you absolutely must put your console in your checked luggage, you will want to make sure it is packaged really well. Using a box would be highly recommended.
It is also possible to have your checked luggage get lost or delayed in reaching your destination. This is not super common but definitely happens from time to time.
Tips for Navigating the TSA Security Checkpoint with an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S
Make sure that you can easily remove your console from your suitcase. Just like a laptop, you are generally going to be required to take your console out of your bag when placing it on the conveyor belt to get x-rayed. If you forget to take it out you will likely be pulled aside while your bag gets searched by hand. Depending on how busy the checkpoint is this can add substantial time to the security screening process.
If you have TSA PreCheck you generally do not need to remove electronics, but on rare occasions you may still be asked. Therefore it is best to still pack your console in such a way that you can easily take it out if necessary.
Connecting Your Xbox Series X or Series S to Your Hotel Room’s TV
Connecting your console to your hotel’s TV is generally a simple process. In most cases, all you will need is a simple HDMI cable. Make sure you pack an HDMI cable of suitable length. Generally, a minimum of 6 feet is recommended.
You will likely need to change the input on the TV, generally, this can be done with the remote control. In some cases the input can only be selected using buttons on the TV itself.
In some cases, you will run into issues using the TV in your hotel room with your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console. This is because most hotels, especially larger hotel chains tend to use special hospitality TVs that are heavily locked down. On some of these hospitality TVs, you are not able to change the input to the HDMI input. This will prevent you from being able to connect a console to the TV in your hotel room. If you find yourself in that situation you will want to check with the hotel’s front desk. Often times they are able to change a setting to make it work.
If using your console at your hotel is important to you it would be a smart idea to call the hotel prior to making your reservation and making sure that it will be possible. Once again, planning is the most important part of the process.
Connect Your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S to Your Hotel’s WiFi
If you want to play online from your hotel room you have a few options each with their own pros and cons.
Option 1) Connect Your Xbox Series X | S | Directly to the Hotel’s WiFI
This is the way most people think of connecting their console to the internet in a hotel room. This is a great option in many cases but may not always be possible. This method works great if your hotel uses a WPA 2 password to connect to the WiFi rather than a captive portal. This is more common in smaller independently owned hotels. Most large chains all use captive portal based authentication. Authenticating through a captive portal may not be possible on all consoles.
If your game console has a web browser you may be able to connect through the captive portal. First, connect to your hotel’s WiFi network. Then open your web browser and navigate to nevelssl.com. This will force your console to be directed to the captive portal. Then you can log in like you would on a laptop or smartphone. At this point, you will want to test your internet connection and make sure you are connected.
If your console does not have a web browser you still might be able to connect it by calling the front desk and giving them the MAC address of your console. This works in some cases but not all.
The other issue with using the WiFi provided by your hotel is network congestion. Hotel WiFi is notoriously slow. In many cases, your online gaming performance will not be as good as you would expect. This is quite common and almost to be expected. Your NAT type will most likely be either moderate or strict when using your hotel’s WiFi.
One thing to remember is that a hotel’s WiFi is not inherently secure. If you are going to do anything remotely sensitive connected to your hotel’s WiFi you should encrypt your traffic using a VPN. A VPN is an affordable way to ensure that your data is secure when using public WiFi, whether at a hotel, airport, or coffee shop. The VPN that I personally use and recommend is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN offers servers in many countries and one of the fastest VPN connections, all for an affordable price. Check out ExpressVPN and their 30 day money back guarantee.
Option 2) Use Your Phones Mobile Hotspot
If you have great cell phone service in your room, and a cell phone plan that includes mobile hotspot data, using your mobile hotspot could be a viable option. It eliminates any of the issues associated with using the hotel’s WiFi including captive portal issues. In many cases, your mobile hotspot will actually provide a better gaming experience than the hotel’s WiFi. This is especially common when hotels are really busy and lots of people are all fighting over the WiFi bandwidth.
The downside is that it requires having a cell phone plan that includes mobile hotspot. It also requires you to be mindful of your data usage as most cell phone plans only offer a certain amount of hotspot data per month. Fortunately, online gaming does not use that much data per hour as long as you do not download any massive updates. Using a mobile hotspot is especially attractive if your stay is going to be relatively short.
If your console is not able to be connected to your hotel’s WiFi, a mobile hotspot could be the best option to get connected. Remember that using a mobile hotspot will always result in a strict NAT type on Xbox Series X / S due to the nature of the technology.
Option 3) Use a Carrier Provided WiFi Hotspot
If you subscribe at home to internet services such as Spectrum or Xfinity (Comcast) your subscription often includes the use of their public hotspots. In many areas, these hotspots are widely available. If you have a subscription that includes this feature this could be a great option, especially if your hotel’s WiFi is not working very well.
Most of these services still use a captive portal for authentication so this option is not going to work on devices that lack a web browser, or other means of connecting through a captive portal.
In many cases, this option will provide you with the fastest connection. If your hotel’s WiFi is unusable or just too slow this is a great option for connecting your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S to the internet.
Recommended Xbox Series X Travel Accessories
If you plan to travel frequently with your Xbox Series X you may want to consider purchasing some travel accessories. Here are our top picks.
Protect your console easily with a durable protective case. Includes storage compartments for cables such as HDMI cables, ethernet cables, and power cables. Also includes storage for game discs or blu-rays.
Connect this travel router to your hotel’s WiFi and then connect your own devices to the TP-Link Travel Router. Simple secure setup. Pair it with a quality VPN service for an added layer of protection on all of your devices. With a VPN you will also benefit on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S from a moderate or even open NAT type.
Connect your favorite game console, computer, or other devices to the Dragon Touch Portable Monitor. Features a 4k resolution making it ideal for the latest generation Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles. Includes USB-C and HDMI inputs for maximum flexibility. Ideal for travelers who are frequently on the go.