Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Regional Forums > Central America and Mexico

Central America and Mexico Topics specific to Central America and Mexico only.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

Like Tree5Likes

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 18
Does one need a gps in C. America?

Hi everyone,

This will be my first trip from Canada to Panama and I was wondering if a gps is required equipment to navigate oneself through central America? Do bikers usually buy a road map for each country they're visiting or is there one good map book available that covers all the countries in C. America?

Thanks in advance,
Paul
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Gloucester, England
Posts: 431
Lightbulb

Hi Paul

Maps every time, or a Footprint guide. Whenever you get lost your trip will be enhanced. Enslaving yourself to a GPS (and/or a lap top, IMHO!) detracts from what the trip is about: enjoying the freedom.

Regards, Mick
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Mexico
Posts: 245
You don't need a GPS. In fact, you'll probably find not having one enhances your trip, like Mick says.
The GPS can be good for arriving in a town after dark, but how often is that going to happen?
Get Sjoerd Bakker's guide to cheap hotels and riding in Mexico and Central America. I know for a fact Sjoerd carries a compass and knows how to use it and he's racked up some high miles down here.
Learn some basic Spanish, keep aware of your surroundings, always remember which direction the cardinal points are, and you'll be living large.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Rockhampton, Australia
Posts: 890
Being in the RACQ the Aussie version of AAA, I managed to pick up a free map from the AAA in San Diego

This map covered all CA and SA and was briliant. Well, some roads on the map were not on the ground, but you expect that, but the main Pan American was there and that was what I was following

Cheers
TS
__________________
www.travellingstrom.com
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: London UK
Posts: 150
Mobile phone application

I had a GPS for the States, paper map for Mexico and Guatemala and nothing else por the rest of my trip but most of the time a relied on signs and people's instructions (I am a spanish speaker though). I did not feel a real frustration of not having a GPS or detailed maps of every single country but it would have been nice.
Whilst reading the trip stories of porkandcorn, I thought it was a great thing to instal on my phone the same application than him and I think this would be very helpful for future trips when it is not possible to have internet connection. I you have the means to download this application then it would be a plus. I quote porkand corn here:

"already appreciating the download of the "maps with me" iphone app. i uploaded maps to all the south american countries i'll be visiting, and it just like having google maps at home. the difference: i'm offline and am still able to search like normal."

On their site they say : "MapsWithMe is available for your iPhone, iPad, iPod (Lite and Pro), Android (Lite and Pro) and Kindle Fire (Lite and Pro). "
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 3,370
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbalouiex View Post
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if a gps is required equipment to navigate oneself through central America?

Thanks in advance,
Paul
The last post has raised the prospect of using offline maps mounted on a smart phone.
There is a largish thread on this subject that contains a lot of input for the advantages and disadvantages of such technology:-
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...1-9#post408067

I remain a big enthusiast for paper based maps, although I can see how tablets and such larger screens are useful and convenient for many people.
__________________
Dave
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Scrabblebiker's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 222
As others have already stated, GPS is not necessary. In 2010 I had the Guia Roji map book for Mexico and ITMB maps for most of the Central American countries, plus "Central America on a Shoestring" guide book. The guidebook was just for general ideas of different areas and I almost never used it for accommodations or restaurants. I regularly perused the maps to take the smaller, less travelled roads and to keep me off the Panamericana as much as possible.

Getting lost and interacting with local folks to find your way back is half the fun.


...Michelle
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 17 Jan 2013
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Posts: 458
I have been to CA several times without a GPS. The only time I wished I have had one is when I am trying to find my out of a big city, due to the lack of highway signs through town. This helps your spanish, though, when you have to ask directions.

You will probably find it easier to buy paper maps at home, rather than in the countries you are travelling in. You can probably find the IMTB maps at a good bookstore in Canada. I like the city center maps in the Lonely Planet books, they show attractions like museums and whatever.

GPS's have their place. You will meet other travellers who will share routes with you to places they have been that would be difficult to find otherwise. Either way works, but no, they are not necessary.
__________________
Andy Tiegs
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/tiegs
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 19 Jan 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Mexico
Posts: 245
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker View Post
As others have already stated, GPS is not necessary. In 2010 I had the Guia Roji map book for Mexico...
Guia Roji has a considerable amount of errors regarding secondary roads.
Double check if you are heading off the beaten path.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 19 Jan 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 738
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbalouiex View Post
Hi everyone,

This will be my first trip from Canada to Panama and I was wondering if a gps is required equipment to navigate oneself through central America? Do bikers usually buy a road map for each country they're visiting or is there one good map book available that covers all the countries in C. America?

Thanks in advance,
Paul
I would fall into the camp of not necessary but definitely recommended. A GPS on the handlebars and a large scale map in your tank bag are the best of both worlds.

Traveling between cities can be accomplished pretty easily as others have said with a good sense of direction, awareness of signs, and an affable nature to chat with people to ask which way when you are unsure.

Within cities, it can be a real challenge at times without a GPS. The street signs in some places are hard to find until you figure out where to look and if your Spanish isn't great, the directions can be hard to follow. Just think how bad some directions are even when given in english in your home country. "Turn right at the big tree". Now try to comprehend this all in Spanish, given at a rapid pace.

I was just reminded of this over the holidays in Colombia as I was looking for the unmarked turnoff to a small fishing village. I had to overshoot a few times until finally narrowing to a single dusty street. This is all good fun, but sometimes on a hot day with an overheating bike, you are just happy to get to your destination before your passenger completely dehydrates.

Another example where I missed the GPS, (even though I tend to want to rely on maps and to orient myself through landmarks) is when heading in and out of cities and even returning back to your accomodation. If you stay in one place for a couple of days, you'll figure it all out but if you are moving from city to city pretty quick, riding out to get something and to come back can lead to a few wrong turns and some extra time in the hot sun until you make it back. With your GPS, you just use the track back function and you'll get back rigt away. With one way streets and busy traffic at certain times, a five minute trip can turn into a 30 minute meander pretty quick.

So in short, for a first time rider to Central or South America I would recommend to take a GPS, especially if your Spanish isn't strong. But as others have commented, orienteering and map skills are great to have so have no fear in keeping the GPS off unless really needed to hone these skills and to open up your world to random adventures. That way, you'll have the best of both worlds.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 20 Jan 2013
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 20
Guia Roji which I got from Omnimaps online has done me very well. They have a lot of other maps to chose from as well
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 21 Jan 2013
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Norwich,Ontario,Canada
Posts: 783
No need for GPS in Central America ( or anyplace else)
The ITMB MAPS and Guia Roji atlas will provide enough framework
Then pay attention to where you are and make mental notes of
landmarks as you go . Costa Rica and Nicaragua tourism boards
give out free country maps that are very useful
Train yourself to keep track of where you
have been and use a compass to determine real directions .and ask local
residents for a bit of help and language learning
All maps and atlases have errors but still provide general picture
of the lay of the roads,towns rivers etc.
GPS MAY BE useful for the fine detail of city driving if time is critical
to you .But out in the country it is just a babysitting service holding your hand
as you move along watching the screen .I am reading a
blog from a bloke riding South America and he is constantly fighting with the GPS or it is malfunctioning or it is telling him to turnaround
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 26 Jan 2013
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 18
thanks for everyone's input
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 28 Oct 2013
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbalouiex View Post
Hi everyone,

This will be my first trip from Canada to Panama and I was wondering if a gps is required equipment to navigate oneself through central America? Do bikers usually buy a road map for each country they're visiting or is there one good map book available that covers all the countries in C. America?

Thanks in advance,
Paul
I rented a BMW in Costa Rica last year. There are no street signs in San Jose, after wandering for 90 minutes I passed the American Embassy, which I knew was 400 yards from the BMW shop I started from. The Ticas were all very friendly but gave terrible directions eg it's easy directo, directo, directo, directo (straight, straight, straight), but a kilometer further the road hit a "T". A compass would have helped. When I dropped the bike off I gave a Motorcycle courier $20 to lead me. Keeping up with his 125cc bike through heavy traffic was quite an adventure. Otherwise I didn't need a GPS.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 29 Oct 2013
lynch180's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Ireland.
Posts: 116
Maps all the way

And if lost in a city

1. Find a taxi driver and give him the address or road you need to find.

2. Agree a price before hand for service to be provided.

3. Dont overtake him when stuck in traffic.

4. Use common sense when following the driver, so as not to be led into somewhere you do not want to be

5. Arrive at destination, and breath a sigh of relief .
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ongoing blogs in South America scooper South America 79 26 Aug 2013 14:18
GPS for Central/South America BrianMcC Navigation - Maps, Compass, GPS 4 6 Nov 2012 18:12
2 x BMW 1200 GSA 2011 (South America) bergaliaboy1 TRAVEL Bikes for Sale / Wanted 2 27 Oct 2012 16:57
Winter in South America 2012-2013 nanagosa4 Travellers Seeking Travellers 23 4 Aug 2012 14:26
Which iPhone GPS app for South America? deeve007 South America 8 9 Apr 2012 19:38

 
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:01.