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Travel Advice - Alternatives to Maps

How times have changed. 

Just a few years ago people who had a hard time using paper maps often relied on PC software to do this job for them.  Today, more people are using free, online mapping services, navigation services on smart phones or Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs) to meet their navigation needs . 

In fact, we recommend buying a quality Personal Navigation Device to help you navigate between places when you will be driving  in a foreign country  Another alternative is to rent a car from a service that provides Personal Navigation Devices as options, or rents cars equipped with in-dash navigation systems. While phone-based navigation services are improving in quality, the cost of data when roaming internationally is prohibitive for most travelers.


If you buy a PND in the United States, it will likely not include a navigation database for the countries in Europe.  However, many of the higher-end PNDS, do include European coverage.  Note that it is usually more economical to buy a PND equipped with map coverages of the United States and  Europe, than to purchase a European map database as an add-on to your PND (if adding a database is possible at all with the unit you have purchased).  On the other hand, you might want to make that purchase soon since many companies in this space are getting out of it.  TomTom, for example, is switching to phone and car-based systems and abandoning their line of handheld devices.

Many people have a hard time using maps to navigate between places. Common map use problems range from finding locations (the one you are at or the one you want to find) to determining a valid route between two or more places.

If you have difficulty navigating to different places while on the road, we present three additional articles on alternatives to maps. One article describes navigation systems provided by rental car companies navigation ( In-car navigation systems. A second article is used to describe Web sites that provide online mapping and routing services ( online mapping and routing ). Our final article explains the Personal Navigation Devices and cell phones to provide mapping and routing ( mapping and routing with handheld devices ).

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