Heading overseas and planning to drive while you're there? You can avoid GPS hiring costs with car companies by packing your own and buying an additional country map for it.
All the major GPS navigator brands sold in Australia -- TomTom, Navman, Garmin and Uniden -- support world map upgrades.
Adding additional maps to the GPS is done either by connecting it to a computer and using the manufacturer's app to download a new map to the device, or buying a physical memory card and inserting it into the GPS navigator's card slot.
You do have to weigh up the costs though -- if an overseas car rental company will rent you a GPS navigator for $15 a day, it might be cheaper than buying the whole overseas map, which may cost north of $150.
Uniden has a promotion on for the next three months (until 21 Apr 2011) which allows buyers to rent a world map for one month free of charge, after which time the map will delete itself. If you want to rent more maps (or didn't buy your Uniden navigator during the qualifying period) you can rent maps for a low fee -- for example, $US19.95 for the USA map.
If you haven't yet bought a GPS, it pays to consider which brand has the cheapest maps for the destination you are travelling to. The price differences can be staggering.
For example, to rent a Europe map for one month on a Uniden GPS, it costs just US$29.95 ($30.10), while if you have a Navman, you'll have to buy it outright for $258 -- more than the GPS hardware costs in many cases.
In fact, in the case of Navman, it'd probably be cheaper to buy a brand new GPS navigator in your destination country, with a local map pre-installed. Basic models are now selling for less than $150 in most places in the world.
GPS map prices compared - TomTom, Navman, Garmin, Uniden
Australian dollars except where noted.
|Uniden map rental||US$19.95||N/A||US$29.95||US$9.95||US$9.95||US$9.95|
* includes Singapore and Malaysia
** map comes in two $129 parts -- Eastern Europe and Western Europe
How to install maps on a TomTom
For all TomToms except the new TomTom 1000 or 1050, download and install the TomTom Home software for PC or Mac. It has a TomTom store built in where you can select maps for different regions of the world and install them into your TomTom via the supplied USB cable.
If you do have a TomTom 1000 or 1050, maps for other parts of the world are not available at the time of writing. They will be soon -- in preparation for that, you can download the new MyTomTom software.
You will then be able to buy maps via the TomTom website, and the MyTomTom software will automatically download them and install them into your TomTom.
How to install maps on a Navman
You'll need to install the Navdesk software that came in the box with your Navman. If you've lost the disc, you can also download Navdesk -- however, make sure you download the version appropriate to your specific model. It only works on Windows, not Mac.
Your Navman comes with a DVD that has a large selection of maps on it, which you can simply purchase unlock codes for on the Navman website. The process for transferring them to your Navman is unfortunately somewhat complicated, but is described in detail in this Navman support page: How can I load international maps onto my Navman? These details are relevant only to the current range of Navman models with model numbers starting with "My".
How to install maps on a Garmin
Install the Garmin Communicator Plugin, which will allow you enable management of the GPS via the Garmin website. This works on both PC and Mac.
If you haven't done so already, register your GPS on the Garmin website. You'll just need the serial number from the bottom of your GPS navigator.
Plug your Garmin GPS in to your computer using the supplied USB cable. Go to the Garmin online store and buy your map. As part of the check-out process, the map will be installed onto your Garmin navigator automatically.