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Google Offline Maps: No More Costly GPS For Us

Google Offline Maps: No More Costly GPS For Us

Nov 7th, 2018, 03:43 AM
  #1  
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Google Offline Maps: No More Costly GPS For Us

In 2016, we paid $100 plus to rent, for a week, a Tom Tom GPS navigational device from Hertz in Puglia. It was out of date, worked only so-so (sent us in the wrong direction down several one-way streets). And we had to lock it in the trunk every time we parked.

Last year, we borrowed our son’s smaller TomTom system for driving in southwest Italy. We were asked about it several times at airport security checkpoints. And, it was only a little better. However, our son paid to download the European maps, so it was free, at least for us. It was still an extra item to pack, carry around and worry about.

We have an iPhone and pay for a limited European data plan, and we don’t want to worry about GPS activity eating that up. Our daughter traveled with us for a brief part of our trip and she had an unlimited data plan, but she, as others know, often experienced a slow download speed.

This year, we simply used google offline maps. No phone service or wifi required. We made a simple download of areas where we would be. In our case, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and France. We focused on the specific areas, so that the downloads wouldn’t overwhelm our phone’s memory, but the memory of each map turned out to be a lot smaller than we had expected. The maps were just like being at home. The only limitation we noticed was that we couldn’t get walking or transit directions. It’s only for driving. In some city centers, where we always do a lot of walking, that was a minor issue for us, although, when we had internet, we could at least take a look ahead of time. Otherwise, it still showed where you were walking and where your destination was and was significantly better than most maps provided by info-places. It also showed popular sites, any landmark or restaurant we could think of, etc., in addition to street addresses. This is still a lot better than what you can get with a car rental. Anyway, who walks around an old city with the GPS system you rented from Hertz? And, as you are driving, almost miraculously, the familiar voice on google knows every roundabout you are about to encounter and usually gets you off the first time around.

(One note: Download the maps before you leave. You might need an overnight for that. The maps expire automatically after 30 days to free up phone memory, so if you need them longer, as we did, make sure you “update” them when you have wifi and that will give you another 30 days.)
whitehall is online now  
Nov 7th, 2018, 04:47 AM
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I use Here WeGo. I used to use it on my Windows phone when it was a Nokia app, and now I am a reluctant Android user I use it still. I have the netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany permanently on the phone, and they update regularly. I add other countries if I need them. We used it several years ago to navigate around California successfully, all off line.
I have Google Maps as well which is sometimes more useful, but honestly I prefer Here, and the lack of Google tracking my every move. Both have quirky routing at times, and in can be interesting to compare the two.
I used Google Maps in the UK to get us to a shopping centre and when I looked at my timeline it listed every shop I had visited!
hetismij2 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 05:17 AM
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We have never rented a GPS abroad. We always took our handheld Mio but now we use Waze (offline). Much more effcient than our car's GPS (with TMC).
When in Oman some years ago, we bought an Omani simcard with some data and drove on Google Maps. Perfect!
MyriamC is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 12:36 PM
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I recently downloaded Google Maps when visiting the US, for the same reason Whitehall did. (My Italian provider recently replaced their 10-day international plan with a 30-day plan, and I couldn't justify the cost for a week's trip.) I was pleasantly surprised at how little difference there is between using live maps and downloaded maps. One difference is the lack of traffic information.

I realized that I should be using downloaded maps more often at home. For example, we spend part of every summer in a sparsely populated, mountainous area of Italy, where cell reception is problematic. It never occurred to me before to download the maps for that area.

Waze is owned by Google and they share resources. However, I didn't think you could download maps on Waze. How can you use it offline?

Last edited by bvlenci; Nov 7th, 2018 at 12:42 PM.
bvlenci is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 02:33 PM
  #5  
 
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I bought a SIM card for my phone and Google maps worked great for driving and walking.I had downloaded some maps but we changed our routing so often that this worked well for us, driving in Sicily in dense fog and storms!
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Nov 7th, 2018, 03:58 PM
  #6  
kja
 
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As a solo traveler without a mobile phone, I remain grateful for GPS and it's auditory directions. I've had great success with my TomTom, which I upgrade as necessary, and which has never created a problem when going through security.

BUT thanks, whitehall, for providing this information about an alternative that I suspect will help many!
kja is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 04:43 PM
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We usually have three different GPS devices going at the same time to make it as confusing as hell for the driver. It gives the passengers comedy relief on our European drives as the devices offer different directions at the same time.

maitaitom is online now  
Nov 7th, 2018, 05:18 PM
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Our TomTom once tried to send us down a hiking path, but I have a sweet spot in my heart for its pronunciations. Autostrada = ow TOAST rada.
Jean is online now  
Nov 7th, 2018, 09:49 PM
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TomTom makes an app. It's not much less money than a standalone GPS but it turns your phone into a TomTom GPS. The free version lets you download a limited amount of maps. I think it would be enough for a city or smaller Italian province.

Better is TomTom also makes an Android app that adds things like speed limits and other warnings to any mapping software you might use. Including Google maps or Here. Can't remember if the speed limit app requires a live data connection.

With Google you can actually start a trip while using the hotel wifi and it'll give you the traffic etc at that point. Downloading the maps before is a good thing but by starting the trip while on WiFI you overcome some of the limits. You can get walking directions or traffic if you're driving. Obviously the traffic will be stale at the end of a long drive.

hetismij2 I like how Google at the end of the month emails me how many km I've traveled. All the cities and countries I've visited. The running lifetime total is also mildly amusing.

I've had some REALLY weird routing from Here. I keep it on my phone just in case but I pay extra attention to the routing.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 10:15 PM
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Nothing is free.

In this case the cost is your loss of privacy.

Google use this method of downloads to ensure that you have location services activated. They then sell your tracked data.
BritishCaicos is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bvlenci View Post
Waze is owned by Google and they share resources. However, I didn't think you could download maps on Waze. How can you use it offline?
Once the app has calculated my itinerary, I put my phone on flight mode.
If there's a lot of traffic and I need live traffic information, I use my 3G/4G data plan in the EU. Roaming costs have been abolished and I have an extensive data plan.
MyriamC is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by BritishCaicos View Post
Nothing is free.

In this case the cost is your loss of privacy.

Google use this method of downloads to ensure that you have location services activated. They then sell your tracked data.
In reality I give up more real privacy when I go to the local corner store to buy something.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Nov 8th, 2018, 12:46 AM
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My husband's Garmin, which we once used in the US, pronounced "Americas" (as in Avenue of) Ah mair EE gahz.

We once met a couple at a truffle festival who lived near us. They asked how we had arrived, and when we described the boulder-strewn mule path we had taken, he said, "Oh, you have a Garmin, too!"
bvlenci is offline  
Nov 8th, 2018, 10:19 AM
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We downloaded google maps for Italy this year and it worked great offline. It does only work for driving though. I used an app called maps.me for walking directions (it worked great in Venice). My phone was on airplane mode the entire time.
Sberg is online now  
Nov 9th, 2018, 03:37 PM
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For France travel, I still use my venerable (11 years old!) Garmin with a France map card, but am slowly converting over to MAPS.ME, which (Like HereWeGo) involves preloading maps (the whole country, in my case) and then using them offline. They are accurate and regularly updated, and I rely on them more and more. I suppose I look pretty silly with a Garmin on the dash and my Samsung phone with MAPS.ME clipped to a holder on an air vent, but that's the way I am transitioning.
SemiMike is offline  
Nov 9th, 2018, 03:56 PM
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We are loving maps.me

I'm getting ready to use it in Morocco in early December and, well, we'll see...hard to imagine anything could guide you through the souk in Marrakech.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 9th, 2018, 11:37 PM
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“..hard to imagine anything could guide you through the souk in Marrakech.”

Nothing can.

Just absolute chaos. After 40 years of fell walking, travelling and sailing in 5 continents, I thought I could cope with anything. Still think that the souk fits into Steven Hawkin’s black hole theories.

Thankfully it feels very safe and very good fun.

If you are there StCirq, try to have breakfast at Hotel El Fenn. The hotel is incredibly stylish, the breakfast really good and the views are stunning,
BritishCaicos is offline  
Nov 9th, 2018, 11:46 PM
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[QUOTE=bvlenci;16821524]I recently downloaded Google Maps when visiting the US, for the same reason Whitehall did. (My Italian provider recently replaced their 10-day international plan with a 30-day plan, and I couldn't justify the cost for a week's trip.) I was pleasantly surprised at how little difference there is between using live maps and downloaded maps. One difference is the lack of traffic information./QUOTE]

We have tried several methods and lack of traffic information seems to be problematic on my trips. Or the stuff of family lore later.

We used a Tom Tom on one trip. It did not know that it was rush hour and would not let us choose a non-freeway route into Vienna. Then it did not tell us in time that we would need to change two lanes to get off. We believe we crossed the Danube three times, but we're not sure.

We used downloaded Google maps on another occasion and the road was closed and it could not tell that and kept trying to u-turn us back to that closed road. We gave up on that excursion.

The SIM card is best for those situations as you get real-time updates. The trade off is you need to pick one up at the airport or on one of the first days of your trip. You could of course, begin with downloaded maps, and if you into a bind, turn on your data and use the full mapping app on android or iPhone.
5alive is offline  
Nov 9th, 2018, 11:54 PM
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If you're starting at a hotel or even cafe with wifi you can get valid traffic. For the start of the trip.

It won't help if something happens during your trip but if you have regular stops on the trip you can get updates there.

For example I think all the Italian autogrills now have free wifi. You could in theory plan a long trip stopping in stops like that every two hours. Each stop you would get new real time updates.

OTOH having a SIM is much easier
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Nov 10th, 2018, 02:37 AM
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British Caicos, this will be my 4th trip to Morocco and 3rd to Marrakech, so I'm quite used to getting lost in souks. I love the chaos!

I was just amused by the thought that some app might be able to make sense of it. I Don't Think So!

Thanks for the tip about the Hotel El Fenn! I googled, and it looks fabulous!
StCirq is offline  

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