I want to buy a travel router that will allow me to VPN to my home network.
I would love to have one device that will do a wireless-to-wireless bridge so I can use it on hotel networks. GL-iNet has device like this (Slate AX), but there are many controversial opinions on this company and there is no OpenWRT firmware yet, so I was thinking about buying a different device and just install OpenWRT myself.
I have the TP-Link TL-WR902AC which as 2 radios (2.4G + 5G), and it is well supported by OpenWrt. There are a large number of GL-iNet devices that are also supported (even if the specific one you're looking at is not).
Many of these devices do support simultaneous AP + sta mode operation, so even if you've got just a single radio, it is still possible to do what you want (with two caveats, below). But it's best if you can use a dual radio device.
You'll assign one radio to operate as sta mode and that will be linked with a wan (often setup as "wwan") interface. The new wwan interface will be, in turn, associated with the wan firewall zone.
The other radio will be configured against your lan interface (and lan firewall zone) for all of your local devices. Install a VPN (such as WireGuard) and have it tunnel home... you'll be all set.
Single radio caveats (applies to dual radio devices when using one radio as sta+AP):
This negatively affects throughput. But that may not be a huge issue if you're using hotel/public wifi where the bandwidth may not be that great to begin with.
AP+sta mode setups require that the channel be dictated by the sta mode connection. The consequence of this is that the AP mode will not start (at all) if the connection to the upstream SSID cannot be made (such as a stale entry in the wireless file). There is a solution for this: Travelmate
Thanks for the quick reply. The GL-AR300M when placed near one of my Ruckus APs at home does 50+ Mbps between its LAN port and WiFi-as-WAN but only 15Mbps between WiFi as LAN and WAN. And only 10Mbps if I use a N300 USB WiFi dongle.
The only way to get faster WiFi to WiFi throughput that I've found is to use two travel routers connected over Ethernet.
I guess the bandwidth issue comes down to what you actually need/expect . In many travel scenarios, your bandwidth will be quite limited by the upstream connection anyway (hotels, cafes, etc often use per-client bandwidth limits to facilitate sharing/fairness). So you may not get substantially more than that in many practical scenarios.
Beyond that, the question about what you actually need applies -- for streaming and video calling and the like, 15Mbps is usually more than sufficient during travel (you're probably not traveling with a 75" 4K TV, after all).
But yes, if you need more bandwidth, two travel routers, or better yet a non-travel router with multiple radios and a higher performance SoC would be the way to achieve it.