I recently (last few years) brought the GL.INet GL-AR750S-Ex Gigabit Travel Router to put into my Travel Kit, because I sometimes travel for work, I found it handy to have a travel kit that includes all the chargers, cables, network gear, and other equipment I might need to make life easier on the road.
People might ask why to bother with a Travel Router in the travel kit, there are a few different reasons for this:
- Some Hotels and Motels limit the number of devices that can connect to the WIFI (typically by MAC ID – a hardware address usually unique to each device). By using a travel router I can connect this device to the WIFI and it sees this as one device (typically through MAC cloning), and then I can connect multiple devices to the travel router.
- Hotel and Motel WIFI may not be secure as is often the case with any Guest WIFI connection. By using a Travel Router I can tunnel all of the traffic through a VPN connection to a VPN Server (either using OpenVPN or WireGuard). This creates an encrypted connection between the travel router, and the VPN Server which means that no one can see what the traffic is on the Guest WIFI or Hotel / Model WIFI because it is encrypted. Currently, I am using WireGuard and I connect to my PfSense Server or Cloudflare WARP.
So now that I have gone into why I carry a travel router with me, let's talk about the different options and why I settled on the GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext. There are a lot of different travel routers but for me, I wanted something that was small, supported OpenWRT, and supported Gigabit Ethernet and fast Wifi speeds. I had previously tried the GL.iNET GL-MT300N-V2 however, I felt the device needed a little bit more processing power especially when you are trying to use things like VPN (i.e. Wireguard) and also looking at things like DNS over HTTPS.
Looking at the options, I narrowed it down to the GL.iNet GL-AR750 or the GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext (however if I picked again might pick the GL.iNet GL-MT1300). I mainly picked the AR750S-Ext because it had higher port speeds, and a bit more muscle for what I wanted, it also supports OpenWRT. One of the criticisms I have is that OpenWRT is not the latest version, so some of the packages may not be available (as is the case with HTTPS-DNS-Proxy) but for most this may not be an issue, over time the firmware has however been updated and some of these packages are now available.
The router has a range of different features and can do things like sharing an external HDD or SSD via a USB port to the network clients, to be honest for me I have not done this very much as most of the files I have directly shared using a file sharing service (i.e. Dropbox, iCloud, NextCloud), depending on your needs the router should be more than capable of sharing media, albeit at slower speeds than if you had the HDD / SSD connected directly to your device.
All in all, I would highly recommend a device like this if you travel on a regular basis, in the case of my router I gave it the same SSID and password as my home WIFI network which meant that as soon as I plug it in and turn it on, all of my devices will automatically connect to the device. One thing to note is that often when you are using a WIFI access point from a hotel or motel you need to use their DNS servers at the start, so you may need to make sure the device is allowing you to do that until you are connected and authenticated. For me filtering my traffic through my home network, or CloudFlare gives me extra peace of mind that my traffic is nearly as secure as I can make it.
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