GPS vs Paper Maps – Which is Better?


Geez, all these new-fangled ‘puter’ thingies, do you think they’ll ever get off the ground? A real paper map has to be a lot better than one of those appy whatsits.

Surely having the missus help with directions, holding the map upside down, figuring east from west and trying to stop it from tearing, while keeping calm at the same time is better than some imaginary bloke trying to take you directly to the new destination and maybe getting it wrong.

Maybe you could let her drive the 4WD and you give directions. But that won’t work because you’ll be too worried about the gearbox (she’s never driven a manual).

We all know that men can’t multitask (apparently). But we will still want to look at the map and make sure the landmarks or signposts aren’t missed as we bark out directions… which is practically divorce material.

Plus, these direction finders don’t have pretty pictures and a good description of places to visit. A book, yes an old-fashioned book must be better, surely – or is it?

What we use

We also have books including a road atlas, a quick and easy reference with pictures that gives us a guide to our destination. Perfect for pre-trip planning or people with time to sit around the campsite and plan the next move. But, we also use technology, in fact, we use a combination.

GPS, Smartphone, tablet, PC and paper maps

We have all sorts of maps, so we can easily plan a trip so that both of us can see the map clearly.

What’s good about GPS and Apps

A map can’t give you an accurate distance to a location, something electronic can.

Other than our Tom Tom GPS, we have all things Apple, iPhones, an iPad and our trusty Mac Book Pro. That’s just been our work guided preference. I’m sure other Android and Windows-based devices offer the same sort of apps (applications).

It’s easy to put in a destination and get directions and if you have doubts, try getting directions from two devices and cross check. Hema maps on the iPad are also great when outback. There are also lots of free apps that provide details on camp spots, caravan parks, even the nearest loo.

Plus I reckon there must be a good safety aspect when you can pre-programme a destination and just go.  Not having to change glasses to read the small print on a map that’s been sticky taped together with the tape turning brown … all while you are driving (a big no-no).

Keeping in touch with your loved ones when away

OK, sure when you take a holiday you want to get away and I encourage people to turn off devices as much as possible. But there are times, perhaps on a longer journey when you want to stay in touch.

This is where things like Facetime and Skype come in handy. The perfect way to say goodnight to the grandkids and keep in touch generally. But remember, it’s very important to have a good knowledge of your particular service provider and the plan you are on.

So I guess technology is here to stay?

Yep, I guess these new-fangled ‘puter’ thingies are here to stay and we should get used to that fact. But maybe, just maybe, a good old-fashioned book could provide some good information as well.

Oh and what about the fun you can have if you like hiking, orienteering, a map, a real compass (also available as an app) and off you go.

And don’t forget to communicate with your family as you travel. So, learn to work with both, save the relationship and get there safely.

Do you use GPS, apps and technology on your trips? 

About the writer...

Joined back in December, 2013

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