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Free GPS

I've read in the travel guides that GPS uses data. Actually, GPS DATA is FREE. (I've actually used GPS on my phone in foreign countries when my phone had no SIM card in it!)

The problem is that some apps, such as Google Maps, use cellular data.

So be sure to find an alternative to Google Maps that has the country you're visiting. I've used both Sygic and MapQuest, but my experience isn't exhaustive, and other visitors to this website probably have some great suggestions.

One last note: GPS DOES use a lot of battery, so keep the phone plugged in when you're driving and turn the GPS off when you're not using it -- don't let it linger in the background.

Posted by
1327 posts

You can download a map of the area you interested inbefore you leave home. Then you don't need to use for the GPS.

Posted by
273 posts

I use Navigator app for driving. It allows map download for offline use. For large countries such as USA it allows individual state map download instead of the entire country. I use it offline while driving and it has good spoken turn by turn instructions, the voice is British and uses British road terms .
Plus it's free and doesn't use data except for map download.
I have used it in North America and Europe and I'm happy with it.
If anyone knows of a similar app for outdoor trekking (free, allows map download, tracks and saves trail walks or city walks)
please let me know.
Happy travels

Posted by
19118 posts

I let the train engineer worry about navigating. For local maps, for town in which I stay, I download maps to my netbook before I leave, and with Wifi at almost everyplace I stay, I can download other maps if needed.

Posted by
121 posts

When smart phones first started to appear, they posed a threat to dedicated GPS units like Garmin.

I had Garmin devices back in the day, spending hundreds for European maps. I also downloaded their desktop software like Base Camp, which let you save POIs and then send them to your Garmin.

Of course working with something like Google Maps is a lot better on your phone, easier to search, much more responsive.

The other option was dedicated navigation apps which downloaded whole continent or country maps, requiring gigabytes of storage. Again, with phones from 4-5 years ago or more, storage was at a premium and these apps weren't cheap.

Back then mobile data was expensive but it isn't any longer. It can be challenging to pick up a local data SIM card and put it in an unlocked device, to be able to use things like Google Maps on your phone.

Now mobile data is inexpensive in most countries and newer phones now have eSIM, which let you activate a local mobile data offer without going to a shop and picking up a SIM card.

Posted by
2267 posts

aghast11 - Even with cheap data I always download the map data to my phone, just for the sake of loading speed. I even keep the map data for where I live on my phone, for the same reason. (And because cell coverage is spotty here.)

Posted by
121 posts

Yes downloading is worth doing sometimes because you may lose a signal on a drive of say more than 2 hours.

But once you arrive at a destination, if you were to search for gas stations or parking in Google Maps, it's going to use data again.

Data usage for maps isn't that bad though. It's when you stream a lot of video that you're going to eat into the data quotas.