Travel Gadgets: Win-Win GPS Navigation

GPS with Vehicle

Navigating using maps while you are on a self-drive vacation can cause major stress.  A GPS is a very useful and affordable tool for most travellers to more easily navigate your driving routes.

GPS Strengths

  • A GPS will work most places in the world.  The satellites have been set up to cover most of the Earth’s surface and they do a good job.
  • Most GPS’s do a reasonable job of planning a route from A to B.  The route planning software is totally dependent on the quality of the map used.  If you can set up a ‘no back seat driving’ rule in your vehicle and only listen to the GPS directions then opportunities for arguments are significantly reduced.
  • The GPS maps cover a much larger area than a typical map book, and will include details down to minor street level.  This is a big improvement on using a large scale map book.

GPS Limitations

  • A GPS requires line of sight to at least three satellites.  Therefore if you are located in a high rise urban area or driving through a valley with steep cliffs beside you then you may not receive enough signals for the GPS to identify where you are.
  • GPS maps can often be inaccurate or rate the roads at the wrong level.  As a result you can be taken on a much longer route than required.  When using a GPS you should not just blindly follow the device directions.  You should also look at the directional signs on the road, and also use a high level map to understand where you are intending to travel and ensure that the GPS keeps you on track.
  • There was a recent incident in Brisbane, Australia where some tourists wanted to travel from Brisbane to Moreton Island which is only accessible by ferry. The tourists followed their GPS directions and subsequently drove their vehicle onto some mudflats because they blindly followed the GPS directions.
  • If you are travelling in a remote area and your GPS guides you off the more significant roads then stop and think.  You can put your life at risk if you get lost or your vehicle gets bogged or broken and you do not have sufficient food and water in your vehicle.

Travelling with a GPS

There are many reasons to use a GPS while travelling, particularly if you need to travel from A to B within a particular timeframe.  But there are also times to put the GPS away and just explore an area in a more relaxed manner.  Let yourself get lost from time to time!

You can always turn the GPS back on when it is time to return to your accommodation for the night.

Has your GPS ever taken you on a magical mystery tour?  Please share your story in the comments below.

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