These days, thanks to cellular technology, Wi-Fi, and mobile apps, you can just about pull map and direction information out of thin air. With so much data readily available, is it worth investing in a global positioning system (GPS) device geared to RVs? The answer is “yes”–especially if you know what to look for. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering RV GPS devices.
Routing RVs Requires Insight
Federal, state, and local laws—and lots of them—govern where large vehicles can and can’t travel. Each jurisdiction seems to not only have its own length, width, height, and weight restrictions but also its own legal restrictions, such as those related to the sizes and volumes of propane bottles commonly carried on RVs. Collecting and updating this data nationwide is a continual process for data suppliers and GPS device manufacturers. Taking advantage of their research and insight makes safe and legal routing less stressful for you.
GPS Isn’t One Size Fits All
Accurate routing based on vehicle size not only prevents accidents and delays but also protects the structural integrity of our highways. Unlike car devices, RV-specific devices ensure that you don’t mistakenly end up on roads that can’t accommodate your motorized RV or towable RV or camper. They alert you to what lies ahead that could affect your particular vehicle: steep grades, upcoming merges and lane changes, or dirt roads for example. They also factor in vehicle size when it comes to turn radius and preference (right for smaller vehicles, left for larger ones).
The Source Really Does Matter
When considering an RV GPS device, be sure that the company providing its data is reputable. Road conditions and status can change, so you need the most current information. Does the data have a recent copyright? Are updates available? Finally, no matter how reliable the GPS brand or how accurate its data, nothing is more up to date than local postings. Even if you really come to rely on your GPS, you should still pay attention to signage.
Genius is in the Details
Road specs and physical and legal restrictions are good to know, but so are RV-specific stops and points of interest. You need to locate campgrounds and RV parks and determine what amenities they offer–from showers to electrical hook-ups to dump stations. Finding RV dealerships and places that allow overnight parking is a vital part of navigating an RV, and since you’re a leisure traveler, having trip information is nice, too. A good RV GPS device suggests road trips, sights to see, restaurants, family festivals, pet-friendly places, and more.
Bells and Whistles Can Be Helpful
The GPS equipment itself is important: if it’s RV specific, it should have big buttons and be loud, large, and easy to use. Some devices also have maintenance logs and safety checklists. A “breadcrumb” feature is great, too. This records a vehicle’s trail from a campsite, making it easier to get back in the dark.