GPS or tablet with GPS ?

I am planning a trip to Italy early next year. I am trying to decide whether to get a GPS unit or possibly a tablet if tablets offer good GPS service. I think smart phones may have GPS ability, but I do not really want one to tell the truth. The prices of GPS units I have seen online and in the stores are close enough to the price of a would seem to me that a tablet would be a better bet. Most of the GPS units I have seen also do not have European maps and you have to pay extra to get those maps. Any suggestions on which I should get...a tablet or a GPS unit ? Also, if you can provide links, specific models, etc. that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
12319 posts

If your tablet uses data to draw the maps (most do, especially if using Google Maps or the disaster known as Apple Maps) you will suck tons of data and unless you have made expensive provision for 3G data you will likely have a huge phone bill waiting when you get home. I use a free navigation app on my 4S which is very good but not as good as my dedicated Garmin device. I don't use the free app for travel in continental Europe but keep it for back-up. Watch that data use... One other thing... where near the driver's position are you going to hang 10.1 inches, or even 7 inches, on the dashboard without compromising the driver's vision?

Posted by Jack
Redmond, WA, U.S.A.
5 posts

Currently, I own neither a GPS or tablet. I am looking on suggestions as to which one to purchase. I do not plan on doing any driving while in Italy, only walking.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5691 posts

If you don't need to to drive, a tablet would be more multifunctional. I don't know that I would walk around holding it though. It would be easy for someone to snatch it from you. You could take advantage of wifi in your hotel to map things out. You don't need to purchase special maps. If you use mapquest you can get walking directions.

Posted by melissa
822 posts

Hi Jack, We have 3 TomToms all purchased in the US; only one was purchased preloaded with Euro maps. In June when I was in Eindhoven I looked at TomToms and for the life of me could not figure out why I didnt just buy a basic TomTom GPS in Europe the first time as that one was around $130 ( yes, dollars), about half of what we paid 4 or 5 years ago at a big box store. We have used the TomToms walking around,especially helpful when parking a car and marking the spot. Battery life was not as long as I like. TomToms fit in your pocket or pack easily.

Posted by RB
Coraopolis, Pa, USA
681 posts

We use a Garmin GPS with a sd card containing European maps every summer and it is cost free after the initial purchase. Using a tablet could be difficult if you do not have a good signal. You could also be looking at considerable expense using the tablet. Keep it simple and use a gps. Buon viaggio,

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
13059 posts

Let me be slightly negative and question the need. Have not found the walking GPS to be all that useful or even critical to have. Driving GPS are OK but walking GPS have greater problems of getting the signal because of the tall buildings and narrow walkways. They work best in open areas like plazas but then plazas are always easy to location on maps. For driving a GPS is very useful - for walking - so/so. For us, part of the pleasure is just wondering side streets to where they take us.

Posted by Nadine
Austin, TX, USA
492 posts

I agree with Frank. We had our Garmin GPS with us for driving in Tuscany and it was very useful there. In some of the cities we also visited we pulled it out when walking around just out of curiosity and it was very useless. If you plan on a tablet device, make sure you use an app the downloads the data ahead of time. Between data charges and roaming fees you could chalk some hefty amounts if not careful. Cities we found the GPS to be useless when walking around - Rome, Venice, even Siena. The GPS would lose satellite between different piazzas and then catch up again when you were back in the open. Walking you tend to be right next to buildings, driving your are further away from the buildings so the reception is better.

Posted by Ted
Little Rock, AR
105 posts

Another enthusiastic thumbs up for the Garmin GPS with Europe Card here. We have also used it on our many stateside and Canada travels.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3294 posts

And a thumbs down from me for needing a GPS to walk around. I'm not one to get easily lost, but every major city in Europe has plenty of old fashioned map options. Guide books and tourist maps are cheaper and far easier to use while actually walking down the street. And in a pinch, people will help you. Just know the local language for "Excuse me, do you speak English?" If they don't, someone else will and will point you in the right direction. I've never gotten permanently lost...

Posted by Bob
21 posts

If driving, have a GPS unit. If possible purchase it at home and use it before traveling. We used a Tomtom, with built in European maps. It was an essential tool for our trip. We took maps to help plan day trips etc. having a GPS allowed my wife to enjoy the trip more (less navigator duties) and it allowed us to explore back roads without worrying about finding our way to the next destination.

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
3140 posts

I, too, don't find a need for a GPS for walking around. A good map is really all you need. If you were driving I would suggest getting one but for walking I would say not to bother. With the tall buildings the service is sketchy and carrying it around certainly puts you at a disadvantage for seeing the sites along the way. Most of the city maps I've seen are very good and will be more helpful than a GPS system. Donna