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Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Manly, Australia
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16 posts
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Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Hi,

We'll be hiring a car and driving from Vancouver city to the Rockies (via Kelowna) to the Rockies to Calgary from next week.

I have a Garmin Sat Nav/GPS that I could bring with us but haven't used it before as always rely on my the navigator on my mobile.

Q: Do i need to bring my sat nav?

Q: If i use my mobile instead, is there reception? Is it easy to get a sim card with decent data allowance? Is it best to get it at the airport?

Thanks!

Greater Sydney...
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17,559 posts
91 reviews
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1. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

G'day Mary,

Apart from probably in Vancouver I do not think you need to worry about a sat/nav for the rest of your trip. There are not all that many roads and you could just plot the trip out (in segments) in Google Maps/directions, then print that out or save it to your phone. Having said that though if you already have north America maps in the Garmin it could not hurt to take it. Just practice with using it this week around home.

There are large areas along the Icefield Parkway that I am aware of having no signal for the phone, but I have no knowledge of that through BC

gxp
Niagara
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2,447 posts
32 reviews
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2. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Bring your Garmin but get North America maps. Helps to navigate, find lodging, retaurants, shopping, gas (petrol) stations and attractions.

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Canadian Rockies
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6,578 posts
3 reviews
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3. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

It can't hurt to bring your Garmin, but you really won't need it other than in Vancouver.

In the Rockies, there are very few roads and they are well marked. The townsites (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper) are compact, and it's essentially a matter of parking and navigating on foot once you are there. Plus, even the up to date maps, aren't always 100% accurate in parks, especially after last year's floods. I find it better to rely on signs and my own two eyes rather than GPS in the parks.

Cell phone reception is OK in the townsites, but pretty much non-existent along the Icefields. It can also be patchy along other stretches of the TCH and highways in parks and rural areas.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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19,426 posts
120 reviews
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4. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Your Garmin is only as good as the maps that are in it, though. If the maps are only basic, or a few years old, they may not be very useful, especially in the cities.

I am not "up" much on all things mobile... but will your cell phone work here? My daughter has been to Australia, NZ and SE Asia several times, and has a mobile phone that she travels with there, but it's not compatible with mobile service here at home.

Penticton, Canada
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14,896 posts
26 reviews
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5. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

hi

first check the price of getting North american maps for your Garmin. If the price is reasonable I would bring it. The GPS provide info that your mobile etc.. will not give you like ETA and km left to destination. We are doing a road trip at the moment It helped me find my hotel in Banff quicker than if I had to pull a map.

Your mobile may work if the cost of Garmin maps is too high-you do not need DATA to run a sat-nav app on your mobile. There are apps that only require GPS to be turned on.

Greater Sydney...
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91 reviews
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6. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Mary,

There are some very good points made above. I might must mention that for our most recent trip to central and eastern Canada and the US New England I purchased the Nth America maps for my Tom Tom and I think that was over $100. I then found that I could not load them to my unit as it had insufficient storage for a file that large, and to keep the Aust maps. Although the on-line published specs of my unit said I should have plenty of memory for that extra maps, it would not load from the computer to the unit. After a week or so of getting advanced advice from posters on the Tom Tom users forum it turned out that the model I had was spec'd differently when sold in Aust to the general specs sold elsewhere in the world. I also spent a lot of time trying/buying external memory, which did not work either. I eventually gave up and claimed a refund from TT which was partially satisfied and my torn out hair has re-grown. :)

As it was our plans changed and I only hired a car for about 4 days in Colorado and the hire of a sat/nav was not very expensive, but boy did I appreciate having it when driving in Denver. Such would be absolutely wasted in the Rockies IMO.

Edited: 05 June 2014, 11:06
Manly, Australia
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16 posts
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7. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Thank you all for the excellent advice and feedback.

As it will cost me almost $100 to just download the map in hope it will be compatible with my device since I've never used it before,, I think I will just improvise and print/save directions from google map and rely on the gps on my mobile.

We're getting excited about our trip as we flying there in a couple of days! yay!

Montreal, Canada
5 posts
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8. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Hey,

I hope your trip went off well.

I am planning a trip similar to yours. Only difference being that I am returning to Vancouver.

My trip begins on Sep 15th. So I am left with a few days to prepare.

What do you suggest - GPS / Google Maps / Map book?

Can you also share your itinerary?

Thanks !

Penticton, Canada
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14,896 posts
26 reviews
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9. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

Hi

Even with my GPS I always have paper maps. The paper maps helps to set up destinations on the GPS.

There are better gps apps then google maps that do not need Data. +you need a holder for your phone if you are going to use it in a location that is not distracting; or take your eyes off the road.

Hand holding a phone will get you a distracted driver fine of $167 in BC

Sherbrooke, Canada
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42,023 posts
826 reviews
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10. Re: Sat Nav/GPS or mobile phone

A few corrections or clarifications are in order.

"...The GPS provide info that your mobile etc.. will not give you like ETA and km left to destination..." Not true. Google Maps or the Apple maps will do that.

Google maps do not require a cell reception. It works off the GPS satellites, same as your Garmin. And you do not need a data connection to drive with Google maps either. It also gives you turn-by-turn instructions.

You need data (such as the hotel wifi) to download your itinerary. I used Google maps extensively in the US Southwest when doing National Parks, many of which had no cell reception. I had a small data roaming package so even if I was not at the hotel, I would turn on the data for a minute or so to get my itinerary then turn it off before starting my journey.

As with any such new toy, better practice at home first.