11 February, 2014

Trip and Route Planning Advice for your Garmin GPS

What to do when your GPS 'wigs out'!

We all love technology (especially Kip). Except when it's not doing what we think it's supposed to. A GPS can be one of these "technological hazards" but there are ways to prevent a problem and also to prepare for the possibility of one. Here are a few tips for finding success using your GPS to enhance your travels rather than being caught at the mercy of the unpredictable.

1. Know how to use your GPS.  This may seem very elementary but it is important. Be sure to read your GPS owner's manual before traveling. And then it might be a good idea to take it with you just in case. Your GPS is a technological device and unforeseen problems like trouble locating satellites, or searching in the wrong city are a reality; but your owner's manual has troubleshooting guides for just such problems that can get your device back in working order quickly.
Nuvi, Instructions, How to, Garmin, etrex

2. Check your GPS settings. You can choose to have your GPS select routes based on several factors. You can choose to use main roads whenever possible, or to route according to least mileage, or according to fastest time. Make sure you have selected the option that fits your needs and desires.

3. Plan your routes and stops in advance. The GPS can be really nice to have, but it doesn't replace good ol' study and logic. You never know when map data or programming could have a kink in it or be outdated and the route takes you in a strange direction. Most of the time maps will have just what you need, but problems can occur. Make sure you know where you are going and how you want to get there before you start so you won't be caught off guard if your GPS is inaccurate.

4. Pre-Plan back up routes and stops. My husband and I pulled into quaint Copan, Honduras one evening excited to stay at this bed and breakfast we had read about in a guidebook.  Before our trip we had put the B&B's lat/long coordinates into our Garmin GPS and found that it was already on the GPSTravelMaps.com Central America map. We saved it and a few other hotels of interest to our "Favorites" on the Garmin so we could easily find them again.  When it came time to navigate to the B&B the Garmin led us to the coordinates flawlessly! The only problem was when we pulled up we discovered that no where in the vicinity of those coordinates was there a B&B. It appeared that it simply no longer existed.  It was getting dark and neither of us had been to Copan before, so thank goodness we had other hotels also in our "Favorites." The first one we routed to was fortunately still in business and ended up being one of our favorite places to stay that trip. 

                                               Sunrise in Copan, Honduras

Changes in businesses, roads, construction and more can catch you unaware, but if you have studied out your route and destination options beforehand you will be able to find the best way around any "roadblock" you might find.

5. Save your planned routes and waypoints as favorites. Saving points and routes in advance not only makes it easier to find them again when you are actually ready to route to them, but it also allows you to make sure that the point is already marked on your map. Especially when traveling internationally be sure you know in advance what points are marked on your map. And if a point isn't marked already you can mark it by saving it as a waypoint. 

It's quick and easy to save waypoints on your GPS. Just touch a location on the map and hit "save." Give the point a name and it automatically saves to your "favorites." You can do the same thing in Garmin Basecamp on your computer and Basecamp also lets you save routes.  Then just load your map to your GPS again and your saved points and waypoints will load with it. Or if you are using a GPSTravelMaps.com map simply send us an email, let us know what location is missing and we'll add it to our map for you and send you an update free.

6. Be aware and use common sense. You may find sometime that your GPS voice navigation is telling you to turn one way while the actual map is showing to turn the opposite way (Happened to me in North Carolina). Your GPS may direct you to go down a one-way street the wrong way (Been there in Texas). Or it may recalculate a route for you and show some really odd and inefficient way to get where you want to go. The beauty is, it doesn't really matter! You are smarter than that machine. You can turn off the voice navigation, you can read road signs and follow them instead of the GPS, and if you've studied your routes beforehand you will know better than the GPS how to get back on track if you are rerouted.  Just be aware and think through each situation. Then use your best judgment to make a decision on where to go and how to get there. The GPS has no control over you. The opposite is true - you are in charge of the GPS and how you allow it to assist you. 

Here's to you and your next travels with your GPS! Be sure to make sure you have an updated map for your destination. We can help you with that at gpstravelmaps.com or send us an email at support@gpstravelmaps.com 

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