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Car equipped navigation, iPhone app, GPS or off-line maps?

This is our second time to Europe. The first we rented a car with navigation. This time, however, we are finding it more difficult to find and rent a car with this capability, or is VERY EXPENSIVE. I have heard about expensive roaming charges using mapquest or the like, some seem to like their Garmin GPS' and one recommended an off line map app downloaded to one's iPhone or iPad.

I am used to Mapquest for Mobile and enjoy being talked to turn here, turn there when I don't know where I am. Which option have you found that is not too expensive and has this capability? Or, is there one?

Posted by
703 posts

we have used in-car GPS and off line maps on the ipad/phone. but last year rather than the expense of rental car GPS ( for part of our trip) it was far cheaper to buy a TOM TOM brand GPS at home, in Australia, also loaded it up with life time update maps of Europe and the UK. ( where we were travelling) it was cheaper than buying one in Asia or Europe.

That way we have it at home to use and for our future trips. for a few hundred dollar outlay ( compared to tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips) it make driving possible. i would not drive overseas without it.

BTW it worked better than the in-car GPS in our new leased Citroen. we used them side by side to test them out.
Another thing that I would not go without is the offline maps on the iphone/ipad app called Pocket Earth. it has made our trips so much easier.

hope this helps.

Posted by
3696 posts

Definitely buy a GPS at home and load it with the maps . Not only are you familiar with it,, but it will be much cheaper in the long run. I have used mine on many European trips and it is easier now than when I only followed maps. But, be sure to have a map as backup because sometimes she routes me down a cow path!

Posted by
8877 posts

Glenlorrainer, you said "BTW it worked better than the in-car GPS in our new leased Citroen. we used them side by side to test them out.
Another thing that I would not go without is the offline maps on the iphone/ipad app called Pocket Earth. it has made our trips so much easier."

Are you saying that Pocket Earth should not be used as your only GPS, but as an addition to a GPS?

Posted by
823 posts

I definitely recommend a dedicated GPS. I take a Garmin whenever I go to Europe. At the very least, it saves me from having to figure out how to change the default language to English. Just have one of your travel partners go outside the terminal hall with it to get a jump in locating satellites. That can be a rather lengthy process after flying 5000 miles from it's last known location.

Posted by
8877 posts

I've brought our Garmin from home in the past. I was hoping to eliminate an electronic item. Oh well, what's one more thing.

Posted by
703 posts

andrea, on our last 9 week trip we had part of it with a new leased citroen and part with a rental car. rather than rent a gps with the rental car i bought a new gps, but used it at one stage alongside the in -car unit in the leased citroen. the result was my new TOM TOM worked better.
listening to two gps at that same time was quite an experience but it was a good test!!
i have used various gps over the years, and others will have their preferences. what I did like about the TOM TOM ( and did not know when I boght it) was TOM TOM developed their own 'map codes' sort of like a number system that represents an address.( like northings and eastings but easier)
so before our trip I looked up the 'map codes' of our hotels etc and then we just put them in when we were there, as required.

this doesn't sound like much but as you probably are aware the names of towns can be VERY long and often duplicated , so it can take time to sit there trying to work out if the address is correct. whereas the 'map code' is only a series of about 6 numbers , for memory. too easy!!!

in addition to a gps we use Pocket earth, absolutely positively would not go anywhere in europe without it.( we use it predominantly on a ipad mini) I download the maps at home ( where wifi is good) and then use it offline when we are there. it is so handy. think of an offline capable street directory ( with many extra features) of the 'whole world'. when your gps gets it not right ( and they all will at times) it can be a very handy backup. its also very handy on your iphone when just working the streets as you can measure distances with two fingers and see what's in the next street etc, which can save walking.

we also buy some michelan maps as an additional resource, and memento, ( when we are there , so the names are spelled correctly) but they don't show the detail that Pocket earth shows.

I hope this helps.

Posted by
41 posts

I use Sygic GPS 'offline maps' which I downloaded onto my iPhone from iTunes app store. I brought the premium version. I paid about $100, with free lifetime map downloads. It has all the features, and more of my Garmin. Maps include Europe, Russia, Canada, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay , Brazil, Africa, Asia & Middle East, Australia and New Zealand - 111 countries all up, you just download/install the countries you're travelling to before leave. If you want to free up space on your phone/IPad you can uninstall the maps when you get home

Posted by
10 posts

I concur with the recommendation to buy your own GPS but offer a new reason: they only help with directions, they are a marriage saving devices!

Posted by
10 posts

I concur with the recommendation to buy your own GPS but offer a new reason: they only help with directions, they are a marriage saving devices!

Posted by
8877 posts

Just thought I would give an update. Earlier this month in Italy I had an Audi A3 for 9 days. It happened to have a built in GPS. I used my iPhone 6s and Google maps instead. The built in car GPS was more confusing. Google maps worked like a charm every day. Even in long tunnels it never failed, unlike my Garmin. I do not find the walking mode to be as accurate. I will be picking another car up in Austria in a few days and have complete confidence Google maps.