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Not sure I agree with your opinion. A map and a GPS serve two entirely different, but complimentary functions. The map tells you where you plan to go, and the GPS tells you where you are at the moment. The map is and will always be the primary source of navigation information, however, I am sure you have had moments in your life when you have looked at a map and not been certain exactly where you are on it. The GPS solves that problem.
The GPS also has the advantage that you can zoom in the scale easily, allowing it to serve as a momentary 'detail map' when you need to determine exactly which of the 4 or 5 turnoffs up ahead is the small regional road that will take you to your destination.
I have toured extensively (North America, Europe from Ireland to Ukraine) on a motorcycle equipped with both a map and a GPS, and would not like to be without either one.
As for your comment "If you're... flying a plane... a GPS is good" - ironically, I fly a plane professionally, that's how I make my living, and I use the GPS in the aircraft much less than I do the GPS on the motorcycle. I could easily do without it on the aircraft, but I would not enjoy long distance motorcycle touring in unfamiliar countries as much if I didn't have the GPS on the motorcycle.
Perhaps your own disappointing experience was caused by having the wrong type of GPS with you on your trip. A GPS that only shows position (lat/long) or major towns and cities would be as useless on a motorcycle as one that shows every small street, on and off ramp, and service station would be on an aircraft.
The key issue in choosing GPS receivers for overland touring is not the ability of the unit to display present position, it is the ability of the unit to show street, road and highway information, along with cultural and service information. This is determined by the choice of cartographic software you purchase along with the GPS as much as it is by the receiver itself. It is rare to find really good cartographic software included with the purchase price of the GPS unit.
i do agree with your comments
finally, i'm leaving without one
i'll buy local maps and compass, speak to the locals to find directions
lost, i will be the only one to understand it, the locals won't understand it
gps is a ggod security, but you need to put the waypoints inside etc etc ...
so, i'm leaving without one
i was a bit confused for russia and mongolia (huge countries, not many roads) but i'll find people anyway and it gonna be fun :-)
thanks a lot to eveyone for your replies, it was not useless
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">but you need to put the waypoints inside etc etc ...</font>
No, not if you get a GPS receiver that displays cartographic (cultural) data, as illustrated in the photo below. As mentioned before, a basic GPS does not come with much cartographic data in it, you have to purchase the appropriate software. Once you have done that, and loaded it, you don't need to do anything more other than just turn it on. It then displays where you are, on top of a map. You can change the map scale as appropriate to the need.
A GPS without appropriate cartographic software would have very limited use, agreed.
i'll buy local maps and compass, speak to the locals to find directions
Some countries don't have recent maps, or no maps at all. Some only have maps written in a language that you cannot read. Some places don't even have roads - I think Mongolia is one of them. The one thing you can be sure of is that the locals will almost always give you a direction with great confidence even if they don't understand a single word to what you ask them.
It depends very much on the receiver you use. The more acurate the clock, the more acurate the position.
A good receiver shows the EPE(estimated position error) Mine, a Garmin GPSIII (no not the +) is usually around 15 to 20 meter's in good conditions (enaugh satalite's evenly spread in the sky)
By the way, the EPE is very acurate, my house alway's move's the same amount as the EPE tells me.
The most recent generation of receivers, designed specifically for motor vehicle navigation - such as the one in the photo above - are usually accurate to within 3 to 5 meters. The Americans turned off the deliberate degradation of the GPS signals (SA) about 2 years ago.
I can navigate to a specific parking spot over and over again with the StreetPilot III, as long as that spot is not under a tree or something else that would block the view of the sky.
Accuracy and reliability may be less for the general public in certain areas of the world - like Kabul, Bagdahd, etc.
An interesting debate has developed. Referring to my last comment and the feedback than it generated: In my opinion, you do NOT NEED a GPS (of whatever brand, type or specification) to navigate yourself around the world, or smaller section thereof.
Where there is a road, there are road signs (mostly, some are even misleading, inaccurate or wrong, but 95% of the time they are correct), there are people, and with the aid of a compass and a map you will be fine.
It is a question of how you ask directions and to whom. Talking to people is fun: Working out if what they say is correct or feasible. Rather than worrying about all these gadgets that you can take with you (and break, and get stolen, and distract you), just drive, take it easy, smile, don’t hit any wildlife and enjoy.
Western consumerism tells us that we need all these machines to make our life better. We don’t. And you don’t if you want to undertake a big bike trip. I made it to some very out of the way places on my little 2 ½ year 60.000 mile viaje en todo del mundo and found a GPS was not required.
(I would also recommend you take an air cooled bike with a carburettor and no fuel injection, but that is another story…)
How did travellers make it around the world before the advent of GPS, satellite phone, ATM, and computers??
Spend your money on important things like a good shock absorber, good wine and some octane booster so that your steed can still run on Ethiopian 78 octane leaded fuel.
There is a German saying: 'Ein GPS zeigt dir wo du stirbst'. In English: 'A GPS shows you where you die'.
You made the comment "How did travellers make it around the world before the advent of GPS, satellite phone, ATM, and computers??". I think (and I am throwing this in to tweak you a little, not to flame you) that you might have let a little elitism slip by into your post, which was otherwise very PC, containing the appropriate phrases about Western consumerism and the like.
Obviously, travelers did make it around the world before GPS, INMARSAT, ATM's and the like. But the point you miss is that much fewer of them did it back then. Conveniences such as we have today make world travel more accessible for people who might previously not have considered it.
I do realize that all the hoi-polloi out there as a result of these modern conveniences may well disturb a 'true' traveler such as yourself , however, consider how much better off Shackleton would have been if he had access to a satellite phone.... mind you, he would not have had the honour of keeping a stiff upper lip for the Empire while he suffered if he could have phoned out for a pizza.
[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 09 April 2002).]
I think you said that you carried a GPS but never used it. I think that if you had the right GPS and had used it you might have been suprised at how useful it is. I was the first time I used a GPS!
I consider a good GPS to be an invaluable aid to overlanding, just like a properly setup motorcycle, a good helmet, and the right riding gear. Sure, you can do an RTW trip without any of these, but I wouldn't even consider it.
I can understand the argument why you need a GPS and I can also see why you don't really need it.
Gues it depends on what kind of 'taste' you want to give to your adventure. And as we all know you can't argue about taste
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