One of the big problems I find about travelling abroad is navigation.
I am an avid map reader, and have no problem with actually finding a place, but when it comes to driving there, maps have serious shortcomings. For a start, either the route has to be memorised or frequent stops are needed. Also, the majority of maps that I carry tend to indicate a large town as a blob on the paper which isn’t much use.
Last year, I bought myself a SatNav – a Garmin Nuvi 760 – and this has become more than an essential part of my trips abroad.
Not only does it give extremely accurate information about where I am, such as what speed limit is currently in force, but is invaluable when looking for, say, fuel or an ATM. Where it really comes into its own though is in direction finding from A to B.
There is an inherent problem though, as I usually know where A is, but programming B in can be problematic. Suppose I want to visit a town some miles away? I can type in the name of the town, but then the SatNav requires an address to go with it. Usually it gives a list of streets that I can select, but for all I know, I have just set directions to the middle of a housing estate some distance from the town centre where I actually want to go.
I have developed a technique which I find extremely handy.
Suppose I want to spend a day wandering around a town some twenty miles away. I have never been in that town before, so I have no idea of street names, or of one way streets. The answer could not be more simple.
I go to Google Earth and look up the town. I then zoom in looking for car parking. Car parks are usually very easy to find on satellite images. Having found the spot I am looking for, I read the Latitude and Longitude coordinates off Google Earth and feed them into the SatNav. Simple.
I have done this for several towns now and the result is uncanny. Not only does my SatNav give me directions to the town, but it navigates me safely through any one way streets and deposits me at the car park of my choice.
What more could anyone want?