GPS or old school paper maps for you? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 08-26-2014, 12:59 PM   #1
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Name: Tim
Trailer: '88 Scamp 16, layout 4
North Florida
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GPS or old school paper maps for you?

I am not new to traveling, nor camping. But I am new to traveling very far to camp. My "back seater" is an eleven year old and not really up to the task of much navigating yet. My front seat companion is only six years old and can't read, of course she is a dog which is a legitimate excuse. Anyway, it is not much fun for me trying to read a map, see where I am going, look at neat stuff along the way, all while looking out for folks trying to run over us and the Scamp.

I have good maps and an Atlas that generally gets me where I am going but last week a bud loaned me his Garman GPS to play with. I like it, I like it a lot. I have only messed with it around town but it works well and is not annoying at all. I have ordered a similar model and hope to hit the road with it soon. I will still plan my trip with paper maps but as long as the GPS acts right I think it will be a valuable addition to my road paraphernalia. Do you use a GPS unit, and how accurate have you found it on long trips over unknown terrain?

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Old 08-26-2014, 01:22 PM   #2
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I have used my Garmin GPSall over North America as well as for 2 months in western Europe and, 99% of the time, it got me where I needed to go. That said, it didn't always take me the way I wanted to go.... so.... I always use a paper map to get a general idea of where I want to go and any mid points along the way, then I head that way and let the GPS (hopefully) keep me from being lost.

If I want a location 500 miles away I consult the maps, and then only turn the gps on for the more detailed parts.

Several GPS drawback will include:

Routing #1: The terms fastest or shortest often are not the most interesting
routes. Sometimes there are to many instructions. In a 50 mile section of interstate there should be no need for instructions, on a recent trip to San Diego CA, there were over 25 in 53 miles of I-5, usually about what NOT to do.

Routing #2: GPS doesn't always know the condition or even type of road they send you on, especially in less traveled areas. I was once sent down a grass covered alley in England, I played along and got to my destination, but it was only because I was comfortable about where I was and knew I could go back if necessary.

Routing #3: There are numerous stories about misleading or missing instructions on less travelled secondary roads, including a few that tried to use GPS on desert roads.

Sooo I always carry both and use each when necessary.

As some guy said some years ago about using GPS and Paper Maps: "Trust, but verify".


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Old 08-26-2014, 01:31 PM   #3
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GPS nav succeeds until it fails. Road atlas backup is necessary. A glance at a compass every 50mi. can't hurt. Computer apps for finding specific types of locations and services are useful. And probably time to promote the eleven yr. old to riding shotgun and learning the basics of map reading and GPS programming. This will take a lot of pressure off the dog!

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Old 08-26-2014, 01:36 PM   #4
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My advice is to always look at the whole route the GPS has given you, by enlarging the map, to make sure you are going where you want and to see that you are not being taken far out of your way, and also to perhaps compare the routes for using highways and avoiding highways. A GPS in general is a big time saver.
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:45 PM   #5
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GPS, but I usually also consult Apple or Google maps if it is a new location.
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Old 08-26-2014, 02:40 PM   #6
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Name: Charlie Y
Trailer: Escape 21 - Felicity
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Viewing the whole route on Google Maps is an excellent idea if you have dragged the route around during planning. We recently had a trip around Seattle where we were routed across a bridge, then turned around at the far end of the bridge only to cross the bridge again and rejoin the freeway 1 exit south from where we got off to cross the bridge in the first place! Amusing 3 mile zoom out until you can view the new route before you hit the road.

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Old 08-26-2014, 02:50 PM   #7
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Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
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An on board GPS is great. I've used GPS systems since 1998 01997 I'm not sure which year. It was before "selective activity" was removed in 2000. Since that time I've always traveled on foot or car with a GPS system handy. Traveling by auto is a bit different than by foot. I depend on the GPS when on the road. By foot both top maps, compass and gps are used to navigate.

The GPS in the auto has always gotten me where I wanted to go, but not always the best route. In New Orleans it was a bad part of town. A change of settings and return route was much better. I've learned the hard way to pay attention to where the GPS tells me to turn. More than once I got on a freeway too soon and had to find a way to turn around or go a long way around.

My recommendation is a GPS with paper backup.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:01 PM   #8
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Tim, I've used GPS's from the beginning. Both in the military and as handheld devices. They are very reliable. As stated, always have a map for back up, but you will soon find that you won't need it much. My wife (don't tell her I said this if we meet) is terrible with a map, but she loves navigating with our Garmin on road trips. We didn't have our trailer this past spring, but she navigated all the way down and back from Chicago to FL, picking out restaurants, gas stops, and making hotel reservations. We just got the new GPS before the trip, so it was a big help having her learn it so quickly. She was a demon on that thing!

You have one on order, so this might be too late, but it's not much more to get a model with lifetime map and traffic updates. Well worth it! I also prefer Garmin to the other brands, but that's just because I'm so used to the interface. I also think your 11 year old may surprise you! Good luck.

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Old 08-26-2014, 03:11 PM   #9
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If you have a smart phone you might investigate a GPS app for it. I've been using Garmin's NAVIGON app on my IPhone and it seems to work pretty well. Mush less expensive than a dedicated GPS.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by OneTim View Post
If you have a smart phone you might investigate a GPS app for it. I've been using Garmin's NAVIGON app on my IPhone and it seems to work pretty well. Mush less expensive than a dedicated GPS.

My daughter uses her Smart phone with GPS capabilities mounted in vent mount. Works good for her. For me and tired eyes the small screen is a problem. The larger screen of a dedicated GPS works much better for me. Something more to think about.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:40 PM   #11
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For on the road I use tom,tom, it is invaluable for instant routing with road closures and accident rerouting in the city. For longer planning I print out MapQuest online so my navigator can look further down the road. For paper back-up I use Delorme atlas Gazetteer its topographical maps with longitude and latitude maps has gotten me out of jams offroad. I also use a Garmen E-trec handheld gps when the pavement ends to go with the Delorme atlas. Garmin Etrex 20 Handheld GPS: Sports & Outdoors
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:11 PM   #12
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Name: Francois
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missed opportunity.....

teach the eleven year old how to read maps....and make it his job to get you where you want to go... get lost? he's got to find the way out...(you drive and nothing else).......he'll acquire a skill none of his contemporaries have (and probably never will), he won't get bored and he'll feel like being part of it all....not just baggage in the back seat......oh, and remove the the front passenger headrest so he can see ARE on vacation, right?
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:13 PM   #13
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Last year I went in search of a good atlas. When we travel, we like to look at the atlas to decide where to go next. I bought both Rand McNally and Micheiin. Very disappointing. Neither is anywhere near as good as the American map atlas I wanted to replace. These are no longer in print so if you have one, hang on to it.

Under "getting in trouble following gps": It's common for trucks and large RVs, following their gps, to get stuck in Smugglers Notch despite numerous signs. It always makes the news. Tight turns, narrow road, and big rocks are the issue.

Tractor Trailer Hauling 99K Pounds of Sand Gets Stuck on Route 108 in Smugglers' Notch -
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:36 PM   #14
Name: RogerDat
Trailer: 77 Scamp 13
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+ 1 on let the 11 year old navigate. Maps and navigation are a valuable skill that is easy to get started with and with practice get good at.

One tip: tell them to find out the name of roads or exit or two before the one you want. That way they can spot it and tell you in advance.

I also like the idea of getting an overview of the route and surroundings from an atlas or map, involve the child in this too it all possible. Let them use a smart phone and app to find out what/where there is someplace to stop for lunch, where is the next rest area for a leg stretch and doggy stop etc. Giving kids a chance to realize they can contribute successfully and also fail without disaster has value.

If you end up lost with them navigating it's like Daniel Boone once said on being asked if he was ever lost in the woods. "Nope, I was a might bewildered as to my wearabouts for a few days from time to time but never got lost."

Hopefully someday they will be going on their own adventures, using the skills they learned with you.

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