a person interacts with the GPS unit in the car dashboard

Do You Really Need a GPS on Your Trip?

You're lost! You wife is giving you the look and crosses her arms in desperation. You say, "Hey, it's an adventure." She snorts. You lost the battle of directions and decided a Global Position System or GPS unit is your next step in saving your grand escape.


Depending on the unit and capabilities, a GPS unit might save your marriage and vacation.

  • In a new city, the GPS unit will make it impossible to get lost, unless, of course, you are looking for some adventure.
  • Restaurant and hotel choices are at your fingertips.
  • A stroll down the avenue and you have a walking tour of the surrounding architecture.
  • Planning your getaway, you can take advantage of the weather tips from the unit.
  • Plan a route around traffic jams and road blocks.
  • You can take pictures with your GPS unit and you can leave behind the extra photography equipment.
  • You can map out your route which saves you fuel costs.


While the advantages of the GPS may save your marriage, the disadvantages need some consideration as well.

  • The GPS unit might have outdated maps causing potential problems with road closings or closed bridges.
  • Some of the site positions maybe less than accurate.
  • Tall buildings or canyons can disrupt the signal from the satellites that may make it difficult to find the exact location. This is easily solved by moving your position.

Handheld units versus In-car Units

There are several distinct differences between handheld units and in-car units.

  • Handheld units need a set of coordinates for navigation versus in-car units which just requires a street address.
  • Displays the general direction, and you decide exactly how to get there whereas an in-car unit, the direction is mapped out.
  • Handheld units are preloaded with topographical maps versus in-car units are loaded with road maps.

Tips for a GPS Unit

Take advantage of these tips for better directions and less frustration.

  • Download the maps prior to your outing, and it will save you time and battery life.
  • Have a bigger screen so that you can see more detail on the map.
  • Get the best battery unit. GPS units use a lot of energy that can drain the life of your battery.
  • Also, it is extremely important that you input all your information before you start the car. Some units now come with voice input making that an advantage when on the road.

As with most things, a backup plan is best. Drive with paper maps in your car and take advantage of local information. Most locals know when roads are closed or under construction. You found it, the perfect spot to redeem yourself. You have turned your wife's look from scorn to admiration when you find a little out of the way, romantic restaurant. Your vacation is saved.

Last Updated: December 16, 2014