Travelling with Garmin

Garmin - absolutely essential. Don't even think of driving without one. I paid for and downloaded England and Wales from the Gramin website. Had to add a micro-chip (Costco) as the Garmin off-the-shelf did not have enough memory. Beware that the Garmin will get you there but not always on the route that you want. If you blindly follow it, you will see lots of narrow country roads that actually take much longer at 25 MPH than the motorway at 60-70 mph. A navigator with a paper map is an essential backup. Don

Posted by Mary
Ottertail, MN, USA
1 posts

Totally agree. Just spent 2 weeks in Ireland and 1 in the UK and found ours very helpful most of the time, other times we just had to turn it off to keep our sanity. We also made use of the "lodging" option on the "where to" screen to help us out a couple times.

Posted by Don
Edmonds, WA, USA
8 posts

You raise a good point about using the "Lodgings" search feature. Even though we had room reservations ahead of time, often we only had as an address something like "London Road, Cheltenham" with no house number. Had I thought to call up "Lodgings" once in range, it would have found the B&B and saved some frustration in wandering up and down London road looking for a tiny sign at the head of a small country lane. Even using the postal code didn't narrow the search all that much. Thanks for the tip.

Posted by Rosalyn
1420 posts

I'll chime to agree with Don. We found the best strategy was to use a map for the macro-planning, selecting motorways or major roads to our destinations. The gps is at its best for getting to your destination once you have reached target city or village. It's also great for getting you out when you're ready to leave. Those uses may sound trivial to folks who haven't driven in Europe; but both can be intensely crazy-making experiences.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
608 posts

Totally agree. Not having one at home I was hesitant but took the offer of a loaner for a trip to England and Scotland and it was terrific. Had a paper map for the few times it failed us. We have previously driven in Britain and UK without one quite successfully but never again!

Posted by Roy
East Alabama
1007 posts

Thanks for the warning about the quirks of Garmin routing. Overcoming those is something I am still working on. One of the most valuable features I have found so far on the Garmin nuvi is the choice between primary (interstates, autobahns, ect.) and non-primary roads. I am not sure if these terms are exact, but the meaning is clear. If I am in a hurry, I use the Primary Roads setting, but if I have the time and want to avoid long lines of trucks and the speed demons, as well as traffic jams due to wrecks, on the limited-access roads, I go with the other setting. At home, I have found that the Primary Roads setting sometimes doubles the time of travel by sending me hundreds of miles out of my way through a series of interstates to get to a North Alabama town that is a straight shot by back roads. That is another reason why a paper map comes in handy; I cheat by planning my route and getting a printout on via michellin ahead of time. A related trick I picked up by using my Garmin at home and use on trips, as well, is to pick out one or two midpoint destinations between my starting point and destination. That helps straighten out the zig-zags that the GPS insists on using to take me through larger cities I want to avoid, anyway.

Posted by David
Kissimmee, Fl, USA
8 posts

We have used our Garmin in Italy and most recently in Greece. My wife and I have gotten some of our most amusing memories from our trips from either the response of the GPS to our wrong turn or traveling those narrow pathways

Posted by grgerard
2 posts

To answer prospect26, yes, the map app on your iPhone will work in Europe. I spent nine days in Spain in October and used the google map on my android and the map on my wife's iPhone. You will use a bit of data, but I was surprised how little the map feature seemed to use. I had my phone on, with data (email and texts) coming in the entire nine days and spent $75 on data (Verizon). My wife used only $25. I also had a Garmin, but the new maps failed to load properly before I left the USA, so it was useless. I even checked it before leaving by searching for an address in Madrid and it seemed to work. Upon arrival in Spain, only France was loaded. I won't bother with Garmin again - the phones worked just as we'll as my previous experiences with Garmin, prior to the failure on this trip. I've used Garmin on three previous driving trips. It's phones for me for now on.

Posted by Bob
Reading, PA, USA
316 posts

Garmin has a free routing program, Base Camp, which you can download on their site. You can plot out all your routes using your computer, see where it is taking you and add in any "via" points to get it to go the way you want to go. You can find hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc on the program and put them into your routes. No looking for a hotel address at the last minute. Then you just transfer the routes to your Garmin GPS device. I have been doing this for years and it saves you from a lot of surprises.

Posted by Larry
Sonora, CA, USA
6 posts

We have had excellent luck with our Garmin throughout Europe.I forgot my paper map on last year's trip to Spain, and I didn't miss it. One tip - ask for your B&B's map coordinates. We found the Garmin got us to the B&Bs without having to worry about the country lanes or lack of house numbers.