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Old 10-10-2010, 10:02 AM   #1
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GPS for traveling cross country

A general question, any recs on what model GPS is best for the above subject? Planning on visiting some National Parks next yr. and have never used one. We are map readers but this may help with all the interstates we will be using as well as side roads at our destinations. Would like to be able to input addresses of campgrounds and find easiest routes for towing the rig. Also heads up at exits of interstates. These will most likely be on sale with the holidays coming up.
Thx all. Don K.

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Old 10-10-2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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Although I thought that a GPS nav would be a good idea for towing, after using one briefly, I'm not impressed. I bought a TomTom 540 and while it could be valuable to find food, fuel, and other services while in the road the routing capabilites are NOT geared towards trailer towing or any towing for that matter.

Every time that I try to plan a trip towards Mass the nav will try to send me up a Parkway that forbids trucks and trailers. All my attempts to reroute and get on the road that I know is good for this purpose have been totally futile. Yes, I could start out and go the way that I know is OK and it will reroute but my fear is getting in an area where I don't know the roads and end up in a bad situation.

Unless there is a navigator made specifically for trailer towing or even has that option to choose trailer specific routes, my opinion of navigators is now pretty low. I will have to get a route planned by Good Sam and use that and only use the navigator for gas stops, etc. If I had known then what I now know, I would have bought the appropriate books and maps and saved my money for other things.


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Old 10-10-2010, 11:52 AM   #3
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RV.Net Open Roads Forum: General RVing Issues: Garmin GPS

This is a link to a short GPS post in RV.Net, it "might" be of some help. I have a Garmin Nuvi 350 I call it "Jack" and like others have stated "no GPS" is fool proof. I usually always look at my road alas before I hit the road in the am, and get a general "feel" for my travel route, and if "Jack" tells me to turn on something that doesn't look/feel right, I will pull over and look at the atlas again.

I love having my GPS for the advance warning of which side of the road an exit is on (real handy on busy interstates), locations of fuel, food, etc.

I got Gary a Nuvi 250 and he has also had good results with it.

The one thing to remember is that they DO NOT totally replace road maps.
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:45 PM   #4
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Thx to you both, Hematite and Kanyonkitty. I'll keep looking for more info and decide.

Don K., doken3
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:26 PM   #5
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Garmin Nuvi 465T has features for helping truckers.
Among other features, you can input height of your rig. Nice for keeping your A/C unit!
Not cheap.
"World Nav" also makes stuff specially aimed at truckers.
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Old 10-13-2010, 07:14 AM   #6
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My husband had to have a TomTom earlier this year. I hate the thing, and hate it more when I am towing. It way to frequently wants to go off the main road to side roads, apparently it is trying to avoid roads with frequent congestion / accidents. But turning off the main road, to a road with no painted lines, is not what I wish to do with the trailer!

He just upgraded his cell phone to an Android phone. While we haven't done a trip with the trailer with it, yet. The navigation system that it includes gives me some hope. It is a google system that has options of seeing what the roads look like from the drivers perspective.

Yes the monthly cost of a Android phone is much more then a stand alone GPS, but if you happen to be considering a Android phone anyhow it is something to think about.

You can find info about the Google Maps for mobile app at:
Google Maps for mobile

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Old 10-16-2010, 07:08 PM   #7
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The Joy of GPS

I drive truck for a living and I know how to read a map. The DW and I have been to lots of places in Canada and the US. WE do not norm,ally get too far of track. If we think we are off track I am not afraid to stop and check out where we are. Do we "need" a GPS I do not think so. We did buy one, a Magellan 5310, a couple years ago. I bought it for my DW. Judy has limited vision and mostly sees the inside of the truck or what ever vehicle we drive. The GPS makes the trip a lot more fun for Judy. With the GPS Judy can see better what road we are near the speed I am going,never too fast! The fact that there are businesses around etc. In 09 we were in FL. during the heavy rains and at least the GPS knew what exit we were at. Some times there are more than directions that are needed when we travel.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:22 PM   #8
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Hi Don

Seems like we are about 1 year apart on the GPS as last year I was searching this out too. I’ll give you my experience and how I now use mine after a learning curve.

First is understanding what a GPS when towing can do and cannot do. A few years ago I had a rent a car in Germany. And in Europe many of the cars had the GPS built right in the car. The turn by turn display was right in the dash between the tach and the speedometer. You put in an address and it would take you most times right to the front door. It was very good. The US aito are now catching up to this integrated system. That was my only prior experience to GPS driving.

However some things I learned towing. Using a GPS for towing is not like when you are in a car, especially with my big camper…. The TV and TT cannot go where a car can easily. So after much debate and review I did get the Garmin Nuvi 465T trucker GPS. It has some features that help however part of this is still expecting what a GPs can and can’t do.

The good:
  • I can program in the truck and trailer weight, height and length. It warns me on overpasses. At least ones that are in it’s data base….
  • I can get steep hill approach cautions.
  • I have turn by turn navigation.
  • It has lifetime traffic that I have yet to use.
  • It has both truck route and car routing. I can flip as needed.
  • When in truck mode I know a semi can go down the route it is taking me, most times.
  • It has lane assist so it tells me in advance when the exit is coming up and on the left or right.
  • It has a down loadable feature that I can create custom maps and download to the device and then just follow the route.
  • It has a blue tooth phone built in.
  • A large screen to help see it.
  • It auto recalculates quickly when I want to go straight and it wants me to turn….

The realization:
Number 1 topic. Do not think you can trust this thing and it will be your only source of navigation. I still use hard maps and now with the birds eye view and aerial views I go to maps and see my route the entire way. Then I know where this thing is sending me into and can I get back out.

The download feature of a route works very well off the Garmin Map Source free software however I still have not figured out all of that software. It is not intuitive and you cannot yet drag the route to change it like Bing and Google. The Bing download didn’t work and now I see Micro soft pulled that option off there site. I have not tried Google or Mapquest to down load yet.

A GPS works very well if you have an address. However many of the campground entrances we go to do not have an exact street address. To combat this I took some tips from my good buddy PTHutch. I use on line software that has a bird eye view and gives long and lat coordinates. I pick a spot in the campground parking lot. Not a point in the middle of the road. That way it will turn me right into camp.

I use the coordinates as a custom POI (point of interest) down load it and then head to it. Or I enter the coordinates directly into the GPS and hit go.

I use this web site to get the coordinates. It has a aerial view too so I can see the campground and make sure the coordinates are where I want to end up. Just move the mouse to the exact spot and write them down.
Find Latitude and Longitude

Other GPS realizations:

The GPS does not always tell the route number you want to turn on they say a street name. The road signs have the route number way in advance and the street sign can be missing…. I wish it could give both.

The GPS can drive you nuts on certain routes where the route number you are driving on merges with other routes. Like a combo of say Route 2 and Route 34. In the hard maps world you know you want to just stay on Rt 2 for 3 hours but the GPS creates steps for every shift in the road names. You sweat a few bullets as it has you taking a turn off but really it is just following the Rt 2… Again realizing how the thing chops up every single road change. This only happens when you have a road that has 2 or 3 routes all using the same strip of road for a while until they split up again.

I wish it had an actual RV mode. It calculates routes if you set it for fastest or shortest distance. This may only mean 1 minute difference in time but it can send you down an ally that you know you do not want to go down. Most times when you go down a block and take the great big turn road with lots of clearance but it is 1 minute longer.

All in all now that I understand how the thing works, it is an aide. I do not have to watch for the turn so hard as it will tell me about 0.5 miles before hand then start worrying… The lane assist to warn left hand exists or right exists is handy. The feature of creating custom route is handy just I have to master Garmim Map Source software or they get Bing to work right...

Being able to find gas stations on the fly is handy as well as items of interest in the area. When we get to camp we search out all the stuff in the area by Garmin and then go on a day trip.

A tip from HenryJ that I did was to get a Friction mount. Looks like this. It sits on the dash, holds well, Cindy can grab it and fiddle with the GPS and put it back. When we leave the truck I put the whole thing under the seat so it is out of site and out of mind. Garmin Portable Friction Mount: Electronics: Reviews, Prices & more

The term efficiency preceded by frustration fits when you are talking about towing with a GPS. Once you understand what it can do well and what it cannot plus the new GPS lingo you have to figure out, you feel better about buying it…. We used ours on our last 1,600 mile camping trip and it worked good, once I figured out to go to coordinates… Thanks Hutch!!!!

Hope this helps

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Old 10-16-2010, 08:13 PM   #9
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I use my GPS all the time in my job which often involves finding street addresses in DC or Baltimore but not so often when towing. When we travel I try and route out my trailering trips ahead of time using Google or Yahoo maps which I print. I use the GPS to give me a heads up on where and when to turn I also carry an atlas to use for reality checks.

On last years trip to the rally in Mexico my GPS actually routed me up 75 and route 74 through from Carlise PA to Port Royal. Although I followed the GPS I did know what I was getting into having towed this road before. But I can't imagine towing this curvy hilly route at night or in bad weather.

What I wish I had was a GPS device that would work with my lap top and show my postion on a Google map that you could easily scan in and out on. I know that these devices are on the market just havn't taken the time to reseach them.

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Old 10-17-2010, 09:22 AM   #10
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Hi all!
First a little off subject. I love your signature info Ted. So many people find it hard to believe that i can drive south to get to Canada. From here I go south on I-75 for just over 35 miles (56 km), and again take the Ambassador Bridge across the Detroit River from Detroit, and again south, to Windsor.
I have not researched and tested GPS in detail like John has. The subject is too big!
Most of the time DW and i use our TomToms, however, when we tow, we use the truck, and there is plenty of room in the cab for the lap top.
We have tried both Microsoft's Streets & Trips and DeLorme's Street Atlas USA. They are not the newest versions, as they are 2006 and 2008 respectively.
Both work very well, and the advantage over the small GPS screens is that you really have a map without the paper, which seems never to want to fold up nicely after use.
You can zoom in and out for detail or overview, and retain a lot of detail that the small GPS screens don't have.
For Streets & Trips we used a "GlobalSat BU-353" antenna, and the DeLorme came with an "Earthmate GPS LT-20" antenna.
If you already have a lap top, either of these are much cheaper than a typical GPS. Bet you can find them at Best Buy, or similar places, or on the Net, for under $50, including the antenna to plug into the Lap top.
Sorry Ted, but I don't remember if either program includes Canada.
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:25 PM   #11
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As an addendum to previous post, I checked out the two software programs, DeLorme and Microsoft, and they both cover both the U. S. and Canada.
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:09 PM   #12
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We just got a Garmin Nuvi 1300 to replace our stolen Nuvi 250W.

It works just fine under most circumstances. The Points of Interest (POI) system is great. There are lots of them available from Garmin and many more out there on the net to be found. A number of them are available for state and national parks, etc.

When we travel with the trailer, we generally plan our route in advance, and the Nuvi is helpful there, too.

One feature we really have come to depend upon is the time of arrival. It's really helpful for even short trips (25 to 50 miles).

The only word of caution is not to rely totally on any single source of info, including the GPS unit.

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Old 10-29-2010, 04:54 PM   #13
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Thx all, We're taking all the discussion under advisement and learning. I like the laptop idea, tide to the GPS. We'll keep exploring. Great forum!

Don K.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:03 AM   #14
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Must be time for the 2011 Streets & Trips to come out, since is selling the 2010 reduced to $28.89 with free shipping.
We are still using 2006.

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