Why We Love It: Real-time traffic reports and five-day weather forecasts make this in-auto GPS helpful for planning multiday itineraries and spontaneous detours.
Downside: Initial setup is a bit of a pain.
Courtesy of TomTom International
Remember life before GPS on your smartphone? I do, because it’s when I first drove from New York to Philadelphia—and got lost. I wound up on a seemingly never-ending two-lane road, with no place to even turn around. Getting back on track took forever.
Getting lost, of course, can lead to exciting adventures. But this was not one of them—the experience left me feeling helpless.
This is why having a readily available GPS device is ideal for most travelers. Whether driving unfamiliar territory, hiking through the wilderness, or exploring a new city, a reliable GPS at your fingertips gives you options. It can guide you from the start, or you can get intentionally lost, knowing there’s a way out.
The best GPS devices not only deliver spot-on navigation but also come with an array of bonus features that keep the user super-informed (weather and traffic reports) and make the exploration experience more fun (with social media connectivity).
Some GPS devices do more than just play electronic tour guide: they can also serve as lifesaving devices in an emergency. The DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w, for example, has a SPOT Satellite Communicator feature that lets you send an SOS message, should you find yourself in danger while braving the elements. You can even use it to send messages to friends and family when your trek takes you outside cell phone range.
Other devices are multifunctional, like the Garminfone. It’s a great GPS device, plus it comes with many smartphone-like features as well as a dashboard mount, so it seamlessly transitions from a handheld to in-the-car navigation. And with a contract, the Garminfone is hundreds of dollars less (as low as $99 at press time) than most stand-alone GPS devices.
Whether you’re hiking in the woods, navigating the souks of Marrakesh, or just driving the Northeast Corridor, these great GPS devices can help you find your way.