Travel Gadgets for an easier Vacation-Part 1–find your way–GPS

Purple for the Route, Note yellow bottleneck on I-15

Purple for the Route, Note yellow bottleneck on I-15

I love GPS devices. We’re chose San Diego for our vacation this year, because my son wanted to go to Comic Con (Popular Media convention). He’s having a great time with his friend but I don’t want to be stuck in one place all day. (And I’m not joining 125,000 people unless it’s for work.) I don’t know my way around San Diego, wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but it’s been effortless and fun without the worries of getting lost in an unfamiliar city.

And while the old fashioned way can be fine –getting around with a map, finding North, calling yellow pages to find places, looking at brochures, checking maps again –I am thrilled to have the gadgets I have.

I can finally feel at home in a strange city.

The first must have for vacation travel, is a GPS that you like. I actually use two (yes, I’m geeky). The TomTom in my car does a good job of getting me across town on the fastest route and telling me step by step directions along the way. Then, I use my iPhone to check the traffic along the way and get a realtime estimate of how long it’ll take me to get to my destination with traffic figured in. I’m not from these parts so it was so helpful to see where the traffic problem areas are near downtown as we made our way to the convention center. Ideally a GPS with a traffic update feature is best (though a bit more costly than mine). Still, I find that the traffic info varies from one service to the next. The Yahoo Traffic updates are good for pointing out accidents. I’ve had much better luck with Google maps traffic to find general slow downs and bottlenecks.

So, I’ve dropped off the boys and how do I get to the spa? Darn! I forgot the address. But that’s okay, I’m using “Evernote” an online application that’s also a new application for my iphone. Evernote allows you to take pictures and tag them as visual notes as well as clip web pages. When looking for a spa, I clipped the web page at home so I had the phone number, price list and address. Didn’t have to try to find a brochure among a pile of papers. So I find the address, enter it on my GPS, enter it on my iphone, and I discover there’s no traffic and I’ll be there in 20 minutes.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an iPhone…google maps for mobile is available for any phone that can go online. Evernote can be accessed through the web on your phone…and there are many blackberrys today that have GPS navigation as well (I know my blackberry’s TeleNav application will route you around traffic–though it has a habit of sending me on a long detour when there’s just a mile or two of slow down–and even find the cheapest nearby gas).

Most GPS have a touch screen. You start by telling it where you want to Navigate to, by city and street address. You can press a button to see details, browse as text, etc. So you have an idea where you are going. Then you just follow the verbal and visual directions. My TomTom tells me in advance that I’ll have to turn and advises me to move into a left or right lane.

For those of us who are challenged by two dimensional maps, GPS is our savior! It has removed stress, eliminated stops to gas stations to ask directions, and saved me from finding myself in a dark alley after making a wrong turn. Vacations are about relaxation and tools like a GPS make it easier to let go and truly relax.


One response to “Travel Gadgets for an easier Vacation-Part 1–find your way–GPS

  1. I agree with this article the stress reduction of having a GPS when travelling is unmeasurable. I however am biased in the fact that I am a true believer in Garmin Nuvi GPS systems I prefer a Nuvi with BlueTooth technology for hands-free phone use, rather than the iPhone. I found the iPhone to be not as accurate as a Garmin Nuvi GPS. However, I do hear good things from the iPhone users.
    The fuel saving properties of never getting lost and finding the most direct way to your destination should sell you on GPS un-doubtedly in this day of painful gouging gas prices.

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