Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Have GPS Units Made Maps and Atlases Obsolete?

It used to be true that anyone who was venturing off on a road trip would have to take a paper printed map to find their route. Then came the digital age and we had the option to go online to a mapping site, enter our destination and print out a route, or even a step by step set of instructions complete with distances from one point to the next. Now it seems that the most common choice for travel assistance are those handy portable GPS units.

GPS units, or Global Positioning Units, were originally created for use by the military, but are now widely used by the general public. With prices starting at less than $100, they have become very affordable and offer so much more to their users than just a road map.  In addition to providing current road maps, they can also help direct you to the nearest emergency services, food, gas, or lodging, as well as help you to adjust your route to avoid roadwork, accidents, and traffic jams. It is also helpful to have a pleasant voice directing you on what move to make next, rather than trying to read a map while driving, or relying on your co-pilot to feed you step by step instructions while they wrestle with a giant folding map the size of your vehicle's interior. Plus, have you ever tried to properly re-fold those maps? That's always good for a laugh!

Rand McNally has even announced that this June they'll be coming out with a GPS unit specifically designed for RV'ers!  It's called The TripMaker® RVND 5510.  In addition to the usual information, this unit goes beyond to give you height/weight restrictions, RV campgrounds, festivals and more, all designed for the specific type of RV you are using.  Click on the link above to learn more and pre-order.

So, if your vehicle didn't come with a built in GPS system, and you haven't yet made the leap from the paper map or atlas, now may be the time to check one out. No one wants to waste time getting lost... That's valuable time that you could be spending playing at your destination! Also, no printing on paper makes GPS units a more eco-friendly option.

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