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looking for GPS solution for trip to Eastern Europe

Hi Team GPS Review,

I need your expertise and help!

I'm starting my research into GPS products for an upcoming trip to Eastern Europe this summer. My family and I will be traveling Poland and Czech Republic (doing a lot of driving by auto) with 2 cars.

I am trying to figure out if an iPhone (with offline Google Maps) is effectively enough for GPS driving I need to invest in a more dedicated GPS device(s).

Currently starting to research:
1) auto focused GPS product (Garmin, TomTom)
2) GPS handheld (Garmin, TomTom) aka inreach which could also go on future hikes
3) use my iPhone with Google Maps offline -- isn't clear to me how good iPhone is for GPS nav vs products from other companies.
4) something else.

I'd appreciate your expertise in steering me in the right direction. Specific product recommendations help.

I'd prefer something under 500 but I'll exceed if if there's a clear rational. I prefer well built engineering. I don't need dash cams or traffic data or crazy premium features. I tend to be pragmatic.

Thank you,
segps

ps: starting to read about how to get map data that is useful. It isn't yet clear to me if buying from Garmin/TomTom is a good decision.
ps: also reading a bit about gotenna mesh product for consumer and government orgs (not GPS I know) but interesting technology.

Comments

  • alanb 557 Points
    edited January 27
    I personally wouldn't depend on "offline" Google maps. If you can get regular mobile data connections to refresh and download segments on a fairly frequent basis, you might be able to make it work.

    You might want to look into the free "HereWeGo" app and Here maps. You might be able to download enough Here map segments for offline use to cover the areas you will be visiting.

    If it was me, I would probably try to buy a used or refurbished Garmin automotive device with preloaded Europe maps. That way you will get all the features like lane guidance. You can always resell the used device once your trip is over and recover part of the cost.
  • segps 0 Points
    alanb said:

    I personally wouldn't depend on "offline" Google maps. If you can get regular mobile data connections to refresh and download segments on a fairly frequent basis, you might be able to make it work.

    You might want to look into the free "HereYouGo" app and Here maps. You might be able to download enough Here map segments for offline use to cover the areas you will be visiting.

    If it was me, I would probably try to buy a used or refurbished Garmin automotive device with preloaded Europe maps. That way you will get all the features like lane guidance. You can always resell the used device once your trip is over and recover part of the cost.

    Thanks alanb. Do you have any recommendations on Garmin automotive device models?

  • alanb 557 Points
    edited January 27
    Any of the newer nuvi or Drive models that have lifetime CN EU map updates should work OK. If you find some available models you are interested in, post here and the members can comment on those models.

    If you use something like eBay, you might have to look at some European sellers to find one with CN EU lifetime maps. Here is one I saw on ebay from a seller in the UK: www.ebay.com/itm/GARMIN-2599-LMT-D-SAT-NAV-WITH-FULL-EUROPE-MAPS-AND-CASE-INCLUDED/274087922798
  • segps 0 Points
    alanb said:

    Any of the newer nuvi or Drive models that have lifetime CN EU map updates should work OK. If you find some available models you are interested in, post here and the members can comment on those models.

    If you use something like eBay, you might have to look at some European sellers to find one with CN EU lifetime maps. Here is one I saw on ebay from a seller in the UK: www.ebay.com/itm/GARMIN-2599-LMT-D-SAT-NAV-WITH-FULL-EUROPE-MAPS-AND-CASE-INCLUDED/274087922798

    Finding a Garmin with CN EU lifetime maps (based in the US) is harder than it looks. I assume the LMT device has to be a Europe LMT one (and not a NA LMT or a NA LMT with a CN EU map bought later via download or sd card) .. i.e. lifetime only comes with preloaded maps that come with the device?

    Starting to read through Ebay posts:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/GARMIN-NUVI-2555LMT-5GPS-U-S-Canada-Mexico-EUROPE-2020-Lifetime-Maps-Traffic/293444560748?hash=item4452a8a76c:g:MV8AAOSwFCheLaTV

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Garmin-DriveAssist-51LMT-S-5-GPS-Sat-Nav-Dash-Cam-Lifetime-Europe-Map-Traffic/372500607640?epid=6020136344&hash=item56bac43298:g:uI4AAOSwApRd0wsh

    I haven't found anything on Amazon or B&H yet. Will keep searching.
  • Boyd 2027 Points
    edited January 28
    Based on what you said, not sure if a dedicated automotive device is the way to go. Since your budget is rather high, IMO it doesn't make sense wasting time hunting for bargains on eBay. And these dedicated Garmin devices have features you specifically said you don't want (such as traffic data, annoying alerts for every curve in the road and railroad crossing, etc). ;)

    Have a look at the TomTom GoMobile app for your iPhone.

    https://www.tomtom.com/en_us/drive/gps-navigation/go-mobile/

    The attraction of this app is that you get maps for the whole world that you can download and store on your phone, so you wouldn't need any data connection to navigate. You can install it for free and drive (IIRC) 50 miles a month for evaluation purposes. Then I think it only costs $50/year to subscribe. Much cheaper than even a refurbished Garmin device.

    So, the money that you save on the automotive device could then be invested in a premium handheld unit for hiking (although there are a lot of apps for that too). Maybe another approach would be to get a new iPhone (if you don't already have one), since they offer better screens and longer battery life. That could be further extended with a battery case. Then have a look at the (literally) hundreds of iOS apps for hiking.
  • Boyd 2027 Points
    edited January 28
    Boyd said:

    Then I think it only costs $50/year to subscribe.

    Had a feeling I spoke too soon there. It's actually much cheaper than that. Here are the options, as per the App Store

    In-App Purchases
    1-Month Subscription $1.99
    3-Month Subscription $4.99
    6-Month Subscription $8.99
    12-Month Subscription $12.99

  • sussamb 936 Points
    If you plan to have a smart phone with mobile data then Google maps in Europe is ideal for simple navigational tasks. Difficult to create multi-point routes on them but for a straight 'input destination, go' they are more than adequate. They are also free, and with their smart phone app will link to the displays in most modern cars, and I assume you'll be hiring that type of vehicle?
  • privet01 230 Points
    edited January 28
    Are you renting the cars? Might the rental have the option to include gps? Otherwise providing your data usage isn't expected to be an astronomical sum, I'd just use a smartphone, or stop in to whatever the discount big box store they have there once you are over in Europe and buy a suitable but cheap GPS at that time.

    I use google maps a lot on my smart phone even though using a DriveSmart 61lmts at the same time. I've downloaded the maps to google to use offline, but I've never been sure it's ever really used them as opposed to my live data. I'd hate to see you depend on the offline maps for google maps or any other only to have some gotcha when you get there ruin the day.
  • privet01 said:

    Are you renting the cars? Might the rental have the option to include gps?

    Just passing by, though privet01 is right, it might be easier to rent a car with GPS instead of buying a separate automotive device. Many useful info at Rick Steves (Western Europe forum) - we used it when we were in the same situation as you.

    But if you're going for hikes, then you might really consider buying a dedicated GPS unit (they have better battery life + it'd be more secure imo) in Europe. We used TomTom for our trips, though as our model is old so maps are not "lifetime" updated - we just update maps and change to the accent of the country we're traveling in.
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