GPS systems are replacing traditional maps. The ease of use and the fact that they can give you directions make it more suitable for driving, particularly if you are alone. When you are new to GPS, it takes some time to adjust to driving with it. Once you start driving, there is no way you can live without one.
There are many brands on the market, but all of them work more or less the same. Here are 5 tips on how GPS systems like Garmin work. You will find that these tips apply to any brand. Configure your GPS in advance and enjoy a safe drive.
There are various things you have to configure when you first start. For example, chose your preferred colors. Make a test under the environment you usually drive and set day and night colors. Some models allow you to set different colors for better contrast depending on the time of the day. Another important configuration is the volume. Especially if you drive in the city, there will be noise around. Set it loud enough to listen over the noise.
All GPSs have shortcuts for the most useful configurations. Some of them are the volume adjustment, the view of the map, and the route preferences you’d like for your current trip. When you are using your GPS continuously to drive to different destinations, have all your shortcuts at hand. Those are the most useful when they are embedded in your car.
Whenever you start a trip, particularly if it is a road trip, make sure you have a full battery. Most GPS have an additional accessory to charge their battery onboard. Do not hesitate to acquire it because it will be very helpful. Battery life on GPS lasts between 8 and 12 hours. However, even tough that might seem too long, you will find yourself on a dead battery situation at the worse time. If you are something around 30%, set your GPS on a saving battery mode. If your GPS doesn’t have it, then check your route and turn it on and off when needed. It is like using it as you used to navigate with old maps. You just use it for consultancy and then drive on your own. You will not have the voice aid to tell you what to do, but you will always have a reference to check if you need it.
There are many routes to your destination, and a GPS is capable of calculating them all. Browse the menu and check at least the 3 top routes. Choose the best according to your criteria. For example, a path that cuts off through a dangerous street is going to be suitable for a machine, but your common sense will tell you to avoid that route. You may also choose to drive through free highways or to use the fastest way even if it is a toll.
Your GPS unit has some maps, but roads change over time. Make sure you have the latest version. Subscribe online to receive an alert when a new map version is released and update it.
GPS is making us forget the art of reading maps. However, it is a useful skill. When you learn how to read a map you are better prepared to read GPS maps or to survive when you are in the middle of nowhere (with no internet connection) and only with a reference map.
To help you in this effort, we have gathered 7 tips on how to read a map. You will find this information entertaining and enlighten. On your next road trip, you will want to rely on your reading map skills instead of your usual GPS.
The bolder lines on a map are useful. They are main routes. Most times, you will want to stick to the main road. There are fewer chances for you to get lost if you do this.
Most highways and some cities use numbers to name their routes and streets. Look at the broader map to identify what is the sequence. Once you get the more general picture, you will be able to orient you better when you are on the road. It will also give you a general panorama you can use later when you consult your map.
Most maps have the compass point somewhere printed. It may only be a line usually up indicating North. That is your main orientation point. Remember that a compass will always point north. When you are feeling clueless on how to read your map, identify where is north and you will get a better idea of where you are standing.
Most maps have grids. They are not there just by accident; they are references to a key map. A key map is a bigger map (at a smaller scale) you can use to identify where you are standing on your map. You have to look for a number or letter that reference the map to your keymap. Depending on the type of map you are looking at, there may be more than one keys and references. Key maps and grids are a way to zoom in and zoom out so that you can read more details of your plan.
Symbols are explained at the key of your map. If it is a single plan, then there is a square at some corner or at the bottom where you will find the key of the map. There is where all the symbols are explained for you. If you are looking at an atlas, then there will be a special section for symbols.
If you want to get an idea of how long is a particular highway or street, then look for the scale. The scale is the representation of how many miles are represented per inch on your map. Most scales are graphical, and that can give you a good idea of the distances drawn on the map.
Natural landscapes are good references on maps. Rivers, lakes, woods and the sea are always clearly indicated on the map. Most places involving water will be blue, and they are one of the best references.
On any medium and major city, rush hour means traffic. At the time people go to work, and when they drive home, there is for sure a traffic jam. There is no reason for it, except that cities are too big, and many people are living on them.
There are times when there is an explanation, like an accident or construction. However, there are other times when there is no reason, and there simply is unexplainable traffic along the way. You cannot get out of it once it traps you. The best thing is to relax, play some music and enjoy the solo time inside your car. If you have company, it is more bearable.
Nevertheless, there are still ways to avoid rush hour traffic if you are not in the middle of it. Here are some ideas you may use. Look at our 6 tips on how to avoid rush hour traffic, and make a better use of your time.
One of the best ways to avoid a traffic jam is to avoid driving. Bikes are an excellent alternative for short distances. In most cities, there are special lanes for bikes, and they don’t get jammed. If you need to go a short distance, consider using a bike. There are services in the major cities that will lend you bikes, and you don’t need to take your own. In addition to the faster transportation, you will do some exercise, which will be healthy.
Waze or other GPS services are now connected to the internet and other thousands of users. They can calculate which route is full and which way is free. Let them take you to your destination. When you are driving, set your GPS first. Waze is the preferred GPS system because it calculates traffic and distances accurately. However, it is not infallible, and at times it will get you straight to the traffic jam.
Five to fifteen minutes make a difference. Leave earlier, and you will avoid rush hour traffic. Do some research first when you are going to a new place. There are GPS apps that will calculate the traffic to your destination. You can even calculate the estimated time at certain hours. Take ten more minutes to avoid driving into a traffic jam.
If you have troubles leaving earlier, then travel later. There are many things you can schedule after work at walking distance places. For example, you can go to the gym, gather with friends or go to the movies. Plan something to avoid rush hour and go home when there is no traffic.
Sounds drastic, but it is effective. Only get close to your work. That way you can walk or use a bike to get there, and you will never be trapped in traffic. You won’t even notice there is a rush hour around.
If any of the tips we just gave you works, then check different routes. Use a GPS to discover new ways to get to your usual destinations. Take notes on how much time it takes you to get there, and select the best route. Even if you have a favorite, at least once a week, look for another. You may find a more efficient way by continuously monitoring and searching.
Are you fond of driving? If you are, then a road trip seems just right for you. And a long road trip is an experience you will not want to miss. There are many things to enjoy, from the scenery to the many stops you can make at some points of interest or just to grab some food.
A road trip is something you should plan in advance. It is better to do it on a relaxed schedule than being tight. That way you can make some room to the unexpected. It is the best way to enjoy and improvise. Make it an adventure with these 6 tips on how to plan for a long road trip.
Washing your vehicle is one of the most important and at times neglected activities. You are going to be inside for a long time. For some days, your car will be your home. Make it a pleasant one with a deep cleaning before the trip. While you are on the road, particularly if it will take you a few days to get to your destination, clean your vehicle regularly. If possible, don’t eat inside, or eat only things that do not spread around. That way you will enjoy a great space throughout the journey.
Plan ahead and look for the side roads you can use. Highways are good to get to your destination as fast as possible, but if you are going on a long road trip, you can enjoy some of the scenery the secondary roads can offer. If you are on a schedule, or if you made reservations in advance, check your options on alternate routes. You may want to mix fast lanes with scenery while you go to make the most of it.
You don’t want your car to break in the middle of a long road trip. To prevent it, check it before you go. Take it to a mechanic and verify fluids, tires (including your spare tire) and breaks. That way, you will travel safer.
Get your emergency numbers at hand. It is better to have them and not use them than needing assistance and be clueless of where to call. Most insurance companies, some credit cards, and cell phone plans have crane services and emergency assistance. If you have more than one service, take all the numbers with you. You might find better coverage in some locations for some companies. Research in advance the requirements and take all of them with you.
Get all battery chargers for your car. You will need to charge your cell phone, GPS, music device or video game (for your companions). All of them have a charger adapter for your car, so get it with you. After all, the most chances to charge your devices will be while you are on the road.
Take with you the most hours of your favorite music. Make it assorted because you might get bored of listening to the same music over and over again. Do not trust on radio stations because they are not reliable when you are on the road. It is best to take some playlists with you.