Driving in Europe – you must have this app

TomTom GPS AppWhen you are driving someplace unfamiliar, navigating roundabouts every other minute and trying to drive on the wrong side of the road – you need help. I can’t stress strongly enough how valuable a good GPS can be.

I recently drove through Europe and put on over 5,500 km in just under three weeks. Not speaking any language other than English and not taking a single map, I relied exclusively on a Western Europe TomTom GPS app for my iPhone and one for my Nexus7 tablet.

“Amazed” is the best way I can describe how well the trip went. The apps performed almost flawlessly and in 5,500 km I only went off-course six times. Being a full blown GPS app, it rerouted me with hardly any delay. Considering the complexity of the signage and the road construction underway, I never expected such success.

Flying into Amsterdam, I toured:

  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • France
  • Austria
  • Lichtenstein
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • U.K.
  • Ireland

and back to Amsterdam again. That included three ferry crossings.

Being able to successfully navigate from one country to the next was what I wanted and expected. The real benefit (in hindsight) was the ability to leave the paved highway and explore off the beaten path. While I had “x” number of days to complete my trip, I really had no set schedule as to when I had to be any certain place.

TomTom GPS apps

If I saw a beautiful church or river valley from the highway, I just jumped off at the next exit and went exploring. I knew TomTom would put me right back on the highway whenever I wanted to proceed on to my next destination.

In addition, with my Nexus7 tablet, I could look for POI’s (points of interest) along my route while I sat having breakfast or lunch, and not miss anything interesting along the way.

Saw lots of these speed camera signs - hopefully they didn't see me.TomTom thankfully includes verbal and visual warnings on screen for speed cameras. I must have passed 200 of those things. (They’ve got those signs everywhere.)

I used a Bracketron Cradle-It holder for my iPhone, which acted as my main GPS navigation aid. I mounted it right above the rearview mirror in my rental car.  I held my Nexus7 on a Spiderpodium which I attached to the air-conditioning vents above the radio. The tablet app was more convenient when trying to find attractions in the big cities, but usually I just followed the app on my iPhone for 99% of the time.

If you’ve never experienced the convenience of positive navigation that a GPS gives, you really owe it to yourself to try it. Once there, you’ll never go back to paper maps again.

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