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Back up GPS or maps with cell phone?

We have T Mobile for our phone service but it makes me a bit nervous to rely only it and not have a backup in case we run into areas with no service. We will be driving in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France so we will rely on it for directions.

We have an old Garmin, but I don't even know if cars have lighters anymore and thats is how we plug it in. I'd rather not take it, but I just wonder what most people do. I also have maps but they rather big if I bring some for each county.

Do you bring a backup just in case?

Posted by
1 posts

I used T-mobile in Germany in 2018 and it worked well, albeit a bit slower than I was used to. if you are worried, you can download the map of the area you are going Offline in the Google Maps app. You can then access it in airplane mode or when you have no service. That's what i did and it was pretty useful. Granted I didn't use it for driving but fore walking around Berlin. Best of luck.

Posted by
4512 posts

I use maps.me offline. You would need to download the appropriate maps when you have wifi. I also would highly suggest a paper map as well. I like to see my route in the am. When we were in Sicily a few months ago we encountered a highway that was completely closed for a new construction route. A paper map would have helped us. For a digital backup, I also have google maps. Very rarely I have looked at google maps for a confirmation of what maps.me is telling me.

Posted by
736 posts

Are you telling me they make maps on paper?

Posted by
100 posts

Google Maps will work offline if you are in a car. Be aware that it does not work offline if you want to use public transportation.

Posted by
4512 posts

I'm not sure its available still, but a few years back when I rented with Autoeurope, I rented a GPS directly from them for about $50. They mailed it to me, I used it for a couple weeks and then when we returned from the trip, I mailed it back. It did work well. I haven't done this since because I'm happy with maps.me

Posted by
25 posts

Just an FYI - we had a rental car with a GPS unit in Germany a couple weeks ago. The car's GPS did send us the wrong way a few times. Google maps on our phone was more accurate. We only lost connectivity from maps one time when driving down a 15km road in a national park in the alps between Fussen and Berchtesgaden

BTW - don't rely on either trying to navigate Rothenberg :-) There was a street closure for construction on one of the main streets and both systems tried sending us down roads limited to pedestrians. Next time I'm going to Rothenberg with a car, I'm not parking at the hotel but one of the large lots near one of the city gates.

Posted by
1807 posts

I used Google maps for directions when I was driving in Germany in May of this year and had no problems (and I was driving in some very small towns in a rural area). If you want a backup, you can download the Google maps for your area and read them offline, but I doubt you will need it. GPS does not rely on cellular service so generally you will probably be okay.

Posted by
84 posts

Use Google maps or Waze, and it will still direct you, even if you run into a cellular dead zone.

Posted by
5926 posts

Technology is great. I use gadgets heavily. But gadgets can and do fail (been there, had that happen) and even when they work, they are not perfect.

IMHO only a fool travels without a good, paper map as a backup or supplement to the collection of gadgets.

Buy the map at home, long before your trip -- use it for planning and inspiration. Never just blindly follow whatever your phone/GPS tells you -- I've had Google and Garmin tell me to drive across a cow pasture, over a cliff, and into the ocean, and has told me to take a meandering coastal road which would have added 2 hours to my more-direct route to a ferry that only runs once per day, which would have resulted in me missing the ferry and derailing a portion of a trip. Maps make a really good "sanity check" on GPS instructions.

Paper maps are cheap, small, easy to pack and light (and they make a fine souvenir if they survive your trip intact). Handy just to plan and get your sense of direction, and a life-saver when the screen goes dark (or is stolen). I love GPS but I'll never go without paper.