Europe tour - maps or GPS?

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Europe tour - maps or GPS?

Howdee... I'm thinking of traveling around Europe on the bike for a year or so, working as I go etc, to make up a slightly different sort of gap year... I've got the tent (that and friends along the way will be where I'll rest my head at night), boxes and panniers, plans and dreams - but no maps.

So, should I get loads of large scale maps (I like taking scenic little roads as the people I meet will be more important than the miles I cover each day) or a GPS system?

If it's the GPS option, what will I need. I wont be able to hook it up to a PC once I'm on the road (unless I use internet cafes, I suppose) so it should be able to carry all the maps I need, or store them on SD media (same as camera). If I use a pocket PC type of thing, then something that'll e-mail would be useful. Something that'll cope with a year of being flung into and out of tents and panniers and batteries to last a week or so on the road between charges.... How much dosh am I looking at?

If I use maps, will I need a support car to carry them?

If you do a bit research you'll find that to load the whole of Europe onto a GPS you'll need a laptop. To take detailed maps of Europe you'll need a truck.Why not get a sidecar?

if no set plans why not just ride see where you end up if you get lost ask someone you'll meet more people that way.

Street Pilot III is the only one I can think of that'll cover what you want, can carry the complete UK & European map base, really depends on what you are riding, its not going to fit on the bars of a 600 sporty. It also wont take that much abuse but then none of them will. If you've got the right sort of bike charging wont be a problem cause you can plug it in, weather proof etc.

Why not just go with the flow and see where you get ?If a trip is too strictly planned, it can be less fun coz you may miss out on unplanned ventures

most gps packages are major roads and euro-routes only, for about 100mb (UK street level is 102mb so imagine the same 10x over).you'd be as well taking the gps to get to a town in general, but be prepared to not experience small towns, or twisties.ALWAYS take a map - gps can get broken or crash.of course, instead of taking major route coverage you could buy a full program for the place you're going to - but you'll need a few memory cards to take 'em on (buy 2 or 3 512mb cards for £35 a pop).

GPS can be a real pain unless you want to get from A to B and be told how to do it. They cant show you that taking a side road will be fun cause it goes up a mountain and down again like a map can. Just go with the flow. If you take maps and you mark them up at the evening in years to come you can pull them out and relive the memories. Me - I stuck some photos to my maps of the places I went to and when I look at them now the memories come flooding back (like the time I got lost and could not work out where I was on the map so I pitched my tent and ended up drinking with some polish people in a camper van who asked if they could share my camp site. Found out the next day I was only 4 miles from where I was hoping to end up but what an experience)You'll pay 300 quid for a GPS or 100 quid for maps that will hold for you a lot of memories. In my opinion no contest.

a good map gps missies small lanes sometimes

I'll bet you don't need very very detailed maps to have fun anyway. A reasonably good map and a compass can be good. Most roads go somewhere, as long as you're heading in about the right direction most the time how far wrong can you go?

kyot wrote

I'll bet you don't need very very detailed maps to have fun anyway. A reasonably good map and a compass can be good. Most roads go somewhere, as long as you're heading in about the right direction most the time how far wrong can you go?

You dont need detailed maps but maps are def better then GPS in my opinion for this kind of trip since you can look at them in the morning and get a real good idea of where you want to go and the routes you can take getting there. Sitting there in the morning with your first cup of tea/coffee with your map laid out in front of you, great feeling deciding "where do I want to go today and how do I want to get there". You just dont get that with a GPS on a trip like this.

Didn't say otherwise - as someone who's just blown some cash on a GPS doobury thingy. Indeed, as you said, for quickly getting from A to B, great. Even for getting you back after an explore.But I've my doubts for a long trip; charging, capacity etc. etc.I'd still stick with map, Blue Guide, Green Guide and some sense of direction.

mr tack wrote

And not forgetting authentic red wine stains from all around europe

indeed, to correct you above post - Sitting in a auberge, with a glass of wine, some saussage, pouring over the map... [X] Should be in Touring Oi! Admin!

mr tack wrote

And not forgetting authentic red wine stains from all around europe

You know that might explain why I got lost so much "so we circle this red lake and we should be there in no time" "Arent there a lot of red lakes around here?""Yeah loads, now pass me the bottle will ya, shame we aint got glasses but aint it great to be sitting down in the sunshine"

LOL Thing is not to panic about being lost - unless your low in petrol!Just thinking about all the times I've been lost, in all the countries (although I suspect no as many as go_slow)... always get somewhere sooner or later.

kyot wrote

LOL Thing is not to panic about being lost - unless your low in petrol!Just thinking about all the times I've been lost, in all the countries (although I suspect no as many as go_slow)... always get somewhere sooner or later.

Exactly, being lost is never a panic its just all part of the fun (as is running out of fuel)

fwiw, tomtom has a wicked map function which can be used the same.I've used it to have a scan for saucy looking twisties, and marked the petrol station nearest one end for going to, and then the end of the same road as another destination just to get there and make sure I didn't miss it - and then went off, caned it for a bit, COMPLETELY lost, no idea where the hell I was, set it for home and bingo - home for tea perfect thrashers tool, if used well (not to mention setting it recording so you can watch the over-lays later and see where it is you went to find them again in future - or have a cheeky look at max speed achieved, top-gear roll-ons etc

El Gordo wrote

fwiw, tomtom has a wicked map function which can be used the same.

As an aside - I did see a class tank vid a while back where the camera showed a 3D GPS display (which hid the guages) and the road as well made for a great vid since you could see what was coming up on the gps display and then see the guy ride the road. Class bit of film.

hmmmm, sounds like a good idea!could even do it with the overlay replay, filming it later and splice it in as a corner-square image rolling with the vid (allowing the helmet-cam angle).

El Gordo wrote

hmmmm, sounds like a good idea!could even do it with the overlay replay, filming it later and splice it in as a corner-square image rolling with the vid (allowing the helmet-cam angle).

Sorry you lost me on the technical stuff but it did look really cool. With normal vids you are left just watching a bike go down the road, this added some extra interest to it - like someone riding a video game for real if that makes any sense.

this map is the daddy, it covers all of Europe and has enough detail to even include smaller un-numbered country roads. And unlike most other maps it's A5 size so it'll fit in a tankbag Use a large fold-out map that has all of Europe on one sheet to work out the general route, and then use the Kummerly+Frei to pick the actual roads you want to ride.

RBZ wrote

And unlike most other maps it's A5 size so it'll fit in a tankbag

Hows it bound? If it was spiral bound it'd be prefect.

kyot wrote

Hows it bound? If it was spiral bound it'd be prefect.

sadly no, it's paperback. But I put some duct tape down the spine as soon as I got it and it hasn't started to fall apart yet. And mine's 3 years old at which point one should really buy an updated edition anyway (for example, half the road numbers in Southern Spain changed recently, and they built 4 or 5 new motorways in East Germany)

kyot wrote

Hows it bound? If it was spiral bound it'd be prefect.

tuff map do just the thing, tear proof and water proof, spiral bound as well. Just the thing for bikers. Not sure of the coverage of Western Europe but certainly worth looking at.<edit>It only covers france, spain, italy, germany, portugal, austria, switzerland, holland and denmark. So okay if you are sticking to western europe (which I guess most of us would do) but for a more adventurous trip it would be limited. Still be good to have though I guess.

a michelin europe road map won´t take up too much space, and shows gas stations, etc, and has useful info in the other pages.when you get to a town that you want to explore, hit the tourist info shops for a free map, and chuck the ones you don´t want to keep.a rough guide to europe is well worth it´s weight as well

Garmin do a great GPS box. Can't remember the name but it isn't cheap. Garmin V??? Waterproof, big screen, worked perfectly on a friend's bike with some hardcore velcro. I prefer maps. Doubt you can get 'lost' with GPS...

go_slow wrote

tuff map do just the thing, tear proof and water proof, spiral bound as well. Just the thing for bikers. Not sure of the coverage of Western Europe but certainly worth looking at.<edit>It only covers france, spain, italy, germany, portugal, austria, switzerland, holland and denmark. So okay if you are sticking to western europe (which I guess most of us would do) but for a more adventurous trip it would be limited. Still be good to have though I guess.

I really don't like Tuffmaps, the look of them is horrible and the scale rubbish IMO. This used to really bother me until I realised that if I bought a couple of maps for about £20 for a tour then in the scale of the £150 ferry ticket, £500 hotel and booze budget and £300 petrol bill, the cost of the maps was insignificant and I could treat them as disposable Really like the look of RBZ's recommendation though, thanks Stef. Been looking for something like this for years

Both. A good GPS with good software will go down to unmade road level but the penalty is the £££s. To get to the same level you'd need to carry the equivalent of OS maps....lots of them. Get some good road maps (and a tank or bar mounted compass will help) - maybe buy them as you go along and use the maps in conjunction with the GPS. If the memory size of the GPS is inadequate - carry the map CD with you and load in new stuff at the friends places that you visit. If it needs an unlock key, make sure you have it with you. The latest Garmins have 500Mb memory - enough for most of Europe, the real ££biggies (poss not suitable for bike use?) have the whole world on the inbuilt disk.

A compromise you might consider is a road atlas and a 'cheap' GPS like the Garmin eTrex. The latter has no built in maps. You have to enter waypoints. This is a bit tedious, but you may only need 2 or three key ones for a days' riding, to give you the general direction and to find your destination. It's waterproof and ruggedly built. Make sure your atlas has latitude and longitude marked, and that you take a small plastic ruler, otherwise you'll never be able to work out the waypoints. Other Garmin models ahev a built in base map, which might help, but I haven't tried them. One side benefit of a GPS is you can see how accurate your speedo is. You can also give your exact location if you break down (I've done that ).

Take a GPSthen you can spend loads buying it, the CD, the right cables, a decent mount, hours of fiddling to load it all in.That way whenever you stop in a town or village you'll have to put it in your pocket and carry it or worry about it getting nicked.Along with your Ipod, mobile, it'll make some moroccan a happy man.You're going on a bike, dont take anything, ask a local, it'll be far more fun. Crust

I bought a Garmin Vista about 2 years ago and have found that to be a great accessory to riding. I always have a real map with me for planning, but you can keep the GPS set on maybe a 10km setting (i.e. it shows 5 km either side of you) and hence you can always have a quick glance and immediately get an idea of what is coming up, where you are heading, and how it all relates to your final destination.I think that my Vista cost me £260 (2 years ago so much cheaper now) and I bought the maps for Europe. I think that I have all the roads, to a pretty fine level of detail, for Western Europe. I am sure that they have newer versions which have removable storage capabilities and hence you could fit it all on.One problem though is the batteries required. Also, you have one more piece of valuable property to get lost/stolen/broken... Don't depend upon a GPS - just use it to assist you at times...<Edit> Also Garmin have one of the best customer service departments that I've ever known... ask Jimbo if you want any assurances about them!! </edit>

Here is Garmin's selection of GPS units:www.garmin.com/mobile/products.html#automotiveNot sure which ones would actually fit onto a bike though...

Charlie wrote

Not sure which ones would actually fit onto a bike though...

I know the StreetPilots do fit a bike, but not really a small bike as I mentioned, heard of one guy who has a Quest but not sure if that was just for the cage, its the bit you have to watch out for, is the unit water proof? I know my Garmin V is but for the type of trip being discussed here it wouldn't do unless a laptop was along to update the maps, the units base map is very basic

crust wrote

Take a GPSthen you can spend loads buying it, the CD, the right cables, a decent mount, hours of fiddling to load it all in.That way whenever you stop in a town or village you'll have to put it in your pocket and carry it or worry about it getting nicked.Along with your Ipod, mobile, it'll make some moroccan a happy man.You're going on a bike, dont take anything, ask a local, it'll be far more fun. Crust

ooh, get her - cynic course you could just buy a secura-bag and know it'll take 'em 15 minutes of wire-snipping to pick-pocket you - and have more than a nanogram of intelligence about where you keep stuff.done farsund of miles all over europe and never had a prob.in fact, the only thing I ever had nicked off me, was a mozzie-coil.

powering gps on yer ped - pop a nice optimate thingy on (permanent points with the little white solenoid at one end) and buy a ciggie lighter socket that plugs ont othe solenoid, and bingo - yer own 12v socket on the ped.easy as pie!

Charlie wrote

Not sure which ones would actually fit onto a bike though...

If you've got real bars (not clip ons) then there's an official handlebar mount that will work with all of the eTrex family.

Charlie wrote

Also Garmin have one of the best customer service departments that I've ever known... ask Jimbo if you want any assurances about them!!

Totally. My eTrex is getting on for five years old and they've fixed it twice (last time this autumn) for no fee. They've given me the best customer service of any company I can think of

Jack wrote

I know the StreetPilots do fit a bike, but not really a small bike as I mentioned, heard of one guy who has a Quest but not sure if that was just for the cage, its the bit you have to watch out for, is the unit water proof? I know my Garmin V is but for the type of trip being discussed here it wouldn't do unless a laptop was along to update the maps, the units base map is very basic

Just bought a Quest, it's waterproof and there will be a motorcycle specific fitting kit for it (it's not been released yet though)Haven't had the chance to try it out yet so can't comment on how good/bad it is.It has 256m of memory which will just about cover the whole of the UK and a bit of Northern FranceFor the sort of trip described above I'd stick with Maps though.Less space, worrying about, easily and cheaply replaced if lost etc.

TCBanditUK wrote

Just bought a Quest.....It has 256m of memory which will just about cover the whole of the UK and a bit of Northern France

You should have selected a Street Pilot III, £90 more, 128 meg data card that covers most of Europe to a high detailOnly down side as I've mentioned is its size (about the same as a Quest) so not idea for a smaller bike

I got the Quest for £350, the Pilot III is £500 which was too much for me !I've actually got detailed coverage for most of Europe and the UK with it, I just download the appropriate Map/Country when I want it.Dunno about the Pilot III size, but the quest is about the same size as my Nokia 6230 so will fit sizewise on any bike including one with pedals

TCBanditUK wrote

I got the Quest ...any bike including one with pedals

small point, beware the push-bike mount bracket... on the one I got, there's a screw fitting which was none to strong. Superglue

Chrissake... you can buy a pretty good map of the local area for a few quid in pretty much every petrol station I've ever been in. In fact, that's part of the fun.GPS abroad is for the kind of people who buy fish and chips in Spain, you know it's true.

whitebird wrote

GPS abroad is for the kind of people who buy fish and chips in Spain, you know it's true.

I would like to disagree with you, however......When we went to the South of France the year before last, a group of mates joined us down there.One told me that they had navigated down using Macdonalds as waypoints so they could have some 'proper food' I thought he was taking the piss until he showed me his GPS unit with all the MacWaypoints loaded in

I have an eMap which does have a bike fitting (which is somewhere in the house). As pointed out a few times on this thread.....take what you're prepared to lose/break. I certainly wouldn't offer my ipaq as a sacrifice!You obviously have some kind of plan so make a loose framework of where you'll go and when - this will also be useful for the folks back home if you lose contact with them.And then use maps and stuff.....which if lost or damaged can usually be replaced with local currency

Charlie wrote

Here is Garmin's selection of GPS units:www.garmin.com/mobile/products.html#automotiveNot sure which ones would actually fit onto a bike though...

I had a chat to Garmin at the Boat Show yesterday, and asked about vehicle systems too while I was about it.As TCBanditUK says, there'll be a motorcycle fitting for the Quest within a couple of months.But if you want a unit that carries the whole of Europe, you have to go for the 2620, which has a 20Gb hard drive (presumably like an iPod unit). This already has a motorcycle fitting kit available. But it's expensive - around £700 as opposed to the £350-ish for the Quest.Magellan also do a 20Gb unit, but no bike fitting kit as yet.Oh, and I'm still a paper map person, myself.

Whilst I think GPS can be useful, my issues with it can be summarised like this I think: 1. Cost. Unit+software+maps+memory cards+mounts+chargers all adds up to a few hundred. Seems like a lot to me2. Interface. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm quite particular about what my maps look like - they're not just lines on a piece of paper. In particular, I like the way you can see how the road relates to the topography. You just can't do this on a GPS unit and the interface of all the ones I've seen is very ugly3. Complexity. I think my problem with taking a GPS unit for a really long trip like this would be that you'd have to remember/take chargers, back-up batteries, spare leads and all that other sort of gubbins with you. Particularl if you have a PDA based system. Every had your PDA lock up badly and need a hard reset? Happens quite a lot, doesn't it? How are you going to reload your software if it does?......eventually I suspect you'd end up havig maps for back-up, in which case you may as well have them as your primary system In their advantage, the convenience of having a unit on your handlebars which moves as you move so you don't have to stop and re-fold maps and so in, is doubtless quite handy. But I'm not ready to change over yet, I'm quite a fan of simplicity and maps are very much that

If you have all the time in the world, want to investigate an area, have time to plan, mark up your maps and do some notes that you can stick in your tankbag. Fine, maps only is OK. If you want to get from A to B (going via X, Y and Z) where A and B are a good days ride apart and you don't have time to do the above or stop frequently to consult maps/get unlost/fold and refold maps in the inevitable howling gale...GPS and large scale map in tankbag. Don't see a problem myself - particularly if you have a GPS that you can operate on the move, with gloves on. This argument is getting a bit like carburettors vs FI (pah! new fangled, complicated stuff...bound to break...doesn't sound nice.....etc etc ). To each their own.

Also depends on whether your sense of direction is any good - if it is, you don't need to be consulting and refolding all the time, if it isn't, you might Don't agree on the Carbs vs FI analogy. That would hold if the cost was about the same and it was just a choice of which you preferred given each solution's advantages and disadvantages When a GPS set up costs £100, that would be valid. But it doesn't

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