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GPS for solo 3-month Europe trip

kkm9 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
Seeking GPS for solo 3-month Europe trip. Sixty-three year old lady, not tech savvy, but smart intuitively.

I've tried to organize my input for the questions from the Stickie on 'how to ask questions'. Was hoping to get a unit off eBay with pre-loaded Europe maps, but also with the largest screen, which I gather is 5". I think the two may be mutually exclusive, but don't know. (I'm thinking larger=easier to see from driver's seat.)

Will rarely use it at home in CA. No cell signal where I live, and most travel is local errands, or easily managed by maps. Don't have cell phone. Next Europe trip, if any, will occur after a year or two.

I'll be leasing a car for first 6 weeks which will have GPS onboard, but I want to get one here so I can pre-load it with route options & addresses of possible B&B's I've outlined during trip research. Don't want to be sitting for hours inputing data after I pick up car & familiarize myself with the unit. Want to be 'good to go' after picking up car.

6 weeks with car in Normandy & Brittany, France, meandering backroads

12 days Paris, no car, where using as handheld would be helpful at times
2 weeks Prague, no car, using as handheld would be helpful at times
2 weeks Barcelona, no car, using as handheld would be helpful at times

1. Want one I can 'stand' on whatever of a dashboard exists in leased car, to not have to stop by side of road all the time to check it.
2. Also usable in towns/cities
3. Ease of route-inputting a big plus

1. Are GPS screens measured diagonally, as with TV's?
2. Can all 'Auto' GPS's also be used as 'Hand Held's' in cities/towns?
3. Pros/cons of having one which can plug in to my laptop via USB for updates
4. How do they 'attach' to what used to be a car dashboard, but often isn't flat anymore?
5. If I opt to get a new one NOT pre-loaded with Europe maps, what are the costs and procedures involved in obtaining them?
6. Your recommendations. (Please, be specific re: 'models' & 'lines' & 'series'.)



  • Seldom 0 Points
    Most Garmin nuvis can accommodate a "bean bag" mount that has a high friction rubber base. My bean bag has sat securely on every dashboard I've tried it on.

    You'll probably want to purchase a copy of City Navigator EU, but somebody from that side of the Atlantic will have to advise you further on that.

    You can use a nuvi as a handheld, but battery life will be a problem. I wouldn't expect more than 3 or 4 hours disconnected from an external source.

    I'm not aware of any nuvis that don't come with a USB connection for firmware/map software updates.

    Look at to get an idea of what's available.

    Look here for maps: .

    Buy both from Amazon or a similar discounter.

    I'll leave recommendations to somebody from the EU, or UK.
  • sussamb 829 Points
    Good luck on your planning, you've picked a great area in France to explore!

    Just to add my 2c worth ...

    GPS don't rely on cell signals but ones directly from satellites, so you would be able to use it in CA, if that influences anything?

    I think 3 to 4 hours from an auto GPS when disconnected is pushing it. My 1490 (5" screen) has a published battery life of 3 hours but I wouldn't want to risk it that long, some later models quote 2 hours. However I guess you won't want to have it on all day, maybe just to help guide you from B&B to somewhere then switch off (?), so with intermittent use it might work.

    You haven't given any indication of what you're prepared to pay? If it were me, and given the overall cost of a 6 week holiday to Europe, I'd get the Garmin Montana. This is a 'handheld' GPS so no problems with battery life when away from the car, and it has a large screen for a handheld (although not the 5" you mention) and is therefore easily useable in a car as well.

    You could load City Navigator Europe NT – Benelux et France, which would cover the area you're visiting.
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    Well I have a Montana and I love it - I use it in both the car and hiking around the woods. That said, it would not bring it on a trip like you describe. It is just the wrong unit to carry around a city - very heavy and bulky, will not fit in your pocket.

    I would look at the Nuvi 3750 and 3450 - they are very thin and light with nice glass multi touch screens. You will look less like a tourist with these because they look like a smartphone (and everyone is always staring at their phones). They will also easily fit in your pocket. Battery life may still be a concern, but these models have instant sleep/wake when you tap the power button. So if you turn it off when not actually looking at it, you should get decent battery life, maybe even a full day depending on your usage.

    Personally, I would go for the 3750, which should be the cheapest and although the 3400 series is newer, it seems to have some oddities. I have a 3790 which is the more expensive cousin of the 3750. Whatever you get, make sure that it will work in portrait as well as landscape orientation. Older members of the nuvi family only worked in landscape mode, and that makes them awkward for handheld use.

    The 3450 and 3750 have 4.3 inch screens. If you really want a 5" screen, you could get the 3550. Personally I wouldn't though, because the larger screen will have shorter battery life and be more awkward to hold and carry. See this comparison:
  • kkm9 0 Points
    Thanks to all--just got up and have a garden guy here I need to work with so will re-read & research your comments throughout the day.

    But one clarification I need re the terminology 'Auto' and 'Hand Held': don't the Auto ones have a cord which lets them be charged while in use in the car via the lighter or something? Must one recharge them from an electrical outlet?

    I am more concerned about ease of use for the first 6 weeks in the car than for time during the cities, as I can use maps more easily while on foot than in car.

    Do you mean while in car, I'd have to turn it on, then get going on my route, then stop periodically to turn it on again? To save battery life?
  • Seldom 0 Points
    If plugged into a car charger, you can use it continuously. Might need some recovery time if you've discharged the battery during a walk, but I haven't tried running for long times on battery alone.
  • sussamb 829 Points
    If you're saying you no longer need the handheld part of your requirement, except maybe as a 'nice to have occasionally' then really any of the Garmin 5" models (assuming that's still required?) that accept routes would do what you want ... just buy the cheapest you can find :wink:
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    My suggestion for the 3750 remains, it will work very well in the car on external power from the cigarette lighter. And the size/weight will make it well suited for carrying around. If needed, you can purchase an inexpensive USB charger to use back at your hotel between outings in the city.

    A "handheld" GPS implies a device that is primarily intended for recreational/hiking use. They are shockproof, waterproof, have long battery life and accept standard AA batteries. In order to meet these qualifications, "handhelds" will be rather bulky and often have screens that are uncomfortably small for use in a car. They also won't provide spoken driving directions, and they do not include any maps so those must be purchased separately.

    Really, what you want is an "automotive" GPS. But some of the newer models have features that are geared towards carrying them around the city. Garmin used to make several devices that included maps for both the US and EU, but now there is only one - the 2370

    If you really only want the unit for the car, you might compare the price of the 2370 with other models where you have to purchase an additional EU map. The Benelux/France map mentioned earlier will cost you $70, or the full EU map is $100. I don't think the 2370 will be a good model to use as a pedestrian however.
  • kkm9 0 Points
    Thank you SO much for that simple clarification, Boyd. I was clueless about which was which, did what, etc, and you really helped me grok it.

    I'll come back in side during a break and look at the models you've mentioned.

    I really appreciate you all making the effort to help this tech illiterate.
  • sussamb 829 Points
    3750 is a nice unit but doesn't have the 5" screen you suggested you wanted? You might want to look at the manual, available here:

    which will give you an idea about the unit.
  • kkm9 0 Points
    So I've looked at these on Amazon:

    3750 @ $130 -- 'base model'

    2370 @ $191 -- with various models to choose from, not sure which would include all of Europe Map

    2945 @ $199 -- newer version of 2370, seemingly 'loaded'--Bluetooth, Europe Maps and all

    In world of 5" screens, I've looked at these two:

    1450LMT @ $130 w/LT maps/traffic
    @ $152 w/BT maps/traffic

    (This one gets a huge number of good reviews)

    2555LMT @ $200 w/LT maps/traffic


    --I will have an iPad with me, which, if I really want to, I can use 'in city' for maps and such, so maybe it makes sense for me to go the 'automotive' route…?

    --What are benefits of bluetooth? I'm pretty sure the new Peugeot I'm leasing will have it available; and a free phone coming with the car may have it also. (I've never had to learn how to use BT it due to not having cell phone.) Does it make things easier? If so, how?

    --I'm a person who would choose to spend a bit more to make things easier for myself and reduce things I need to fiddle with. A surface look at these models above inclines me towards the 2370 or its update, the 2945, because I won't have to fuss with buying & downloading the Europe maps etc.

    --Are all of these models as easy to program routes on as each other?

    --It's hard for me to tell what's meant on each model by 'Maps-Traffic Included'.

    If, as Boyd, said, the only one with all EU maps loaded is the 2370, then that almost seals it. But if either of the 5" options above have included EU maps, too, they become very strong contenders.

    I need to study these models more closely, but if you have any clarifying comparative input, it will be appreciated.

    Note: tinyURL links removed by moderator
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    I don't think there's any such thing as a 2945. But there is a 2475 which includes Europe - sorry, I missed that before. Units with US+EU maps have a 7 in the model number.

    IMO, $130 for a 3750 is a really good deal. Add the Benelux maps and you have everything for $200. This will have a much nicer screen than the other models on your list - glass multi-touch capacitive high resolution, like your iPad. The other models have low resolution resistive screens.

    I wouldn't be put off by the lack of EU maps on any unit that you like. The download is easy to install, or get the preloaded memory card if you want "plug and play".

    The 1450 is tried and true, but it's an older device. It would be fine for the car, not good for pedestrians. 2555 is a new model and nicer because it works in portrait mode for handheld use (but kind of large with a 5" screen).

    I suggest you visit a store and look at some of these. If they don't have a 3750, then look at another member of the 3400 and 3700 family as they all have the same kind of screens. You will see the difference right away. The 3550 would give you the same kind of screen on a 5" device if you really feel you need that.

    Also note that the traffic feature on all these models will not work in the EU unless you purchase a subscription there.

    Bluetooth is only used for handsfree calling with your phone on most nuvi's. If your car already has bluetooth (mine does), that will be much better than the nuvi for handsfree calling. The 2555 can use bluetooth with a compatible Android phone to receive traffic, weather and other data. You would need a data plan for this.

    The 1400 series uses an older type of route planner and the other models have something called the trip planner. If you're just creating routes directly on the unit, this probably won't matter much to you. The 2370 is not capable of accepting routes that you create on your computer.
  • kkm9 0 Points
    "I don't think there's any such thing as a 2945."

    You're right. I inverted numbers. It's 2495. Here's link, as posted above:

    I will follow your advice and try to find some of these at Best Buy--which with my luck at that store, won't have them! But I'll try when I can get there. Got some work happening here which needs to be supervised, but I will get there.

    Once again, I thank you and Suss and everyone else who has been offering your time and patience to me here.
  • kkm9 0 Points
    One more quick question before I turn off my tech brain for awhile.

    The way you speak of 5" vs 4.3" makes me think you feel it doesn't matter. I'm thinking I'd be better able to see the 5" screen while driving country backroads in France. Am I exaggerating the difference?
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    Where did you get the idea that the 2495 contains EU maps? It will only have North America. Again, the 2475 is the international model. Also, please don't post tinyURL links because we have no way of knowing what they are without clicking them - it could be a virus for all I know. Really, we prefer that you don't post links to online retailers at all, since there are companies who pay to advertise on the site - which is what allows us to offer it for free :)

    What I think about a 5" screen is irrelevant. You really need to look at these things in person and decide what YOU think. I'd say that a big screen is nice, but you also need to consider the quality: some people would say 800x480 pixels on the 3750 4.3" screen looks better than 272x480 on a 1450 5" screen.
  • kkm9 0 Points
    Whoops! Sorry about the TinyURL links. Gotcha.

  • winston61 82 Points
    tomtom may be a choice to consider. Massive support on the net and they are based in the Netherlands. Plus they are a well made reliable product.
  • kkm9 0 Points
    Thanks, Winston. I went to Best Buy to look at them and was a bit overwhelmed by the options.

    The key thing for me is that I'd prefer getting one pre-loaded with all European maps. I don't know if tomtom has one of those, and according to Boyd, Garmin does. I'll look into both the maps to download and the models. I got sidetracked by other details to manage.
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    IIRC, my old TomTom GO 920t included maps for both Europe and the US. I'm sure they still make units with both maps. Also see this thread on the TomTom GO 2050 World Edition.

    But really, with Garmin it is very easy to add EU maps to a US model. This simplest way is to purchase a data card that already includes the maps, then just plug it in. Downloading the maps is not too hard either.
  • Seldom 0 Points
    simplest way is to purchase a data card that already includes the maps, then just plug it in. Downloading the maps is not too hard either.
    Of course for those of us with memory challenged 1490s we'd lose the benefit of US maps (currently on a card) while in the EU. Need to swap them on the plane I guess.
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