This is a slightly different sort of post — a travel tip. I’m back on the road after a nice bit of home-bound hiatus. I’m traveling with a new toy — a GPS. I’ve used GPS in aviation for years, had one of the first general handheld positioning units (anybody want to by a Lowrance GlobalMap 100?!), and was able to see first-hand last spring what the in-dash mounted systems could do. I’m fully aware of the technology and was ahead of the curve way back when. But I didn’t stay up on it. Frankly, I’m SHOCKED at how sophisticated the cheap handheld units have become. And while I knew it would get me to my destination in unfamiliar territory, I can’t believe how MUCH I use it. I use even around my own town.While there are limitations, the information and the speed with which it comes up is amazing. I’m quite aware that most of the traveling world has a Blackberry or other web-crawling device, but I can just about guarantee the for travel and directional information, it’s quicker, safer, and easier to do it on the GPS — especially whilst en route. I am able to see the closest restaurants (made several dining decisions this week based on it), every conceivable shop, and go to the web and download lists of any cult store (I loaded all the Apple stores and spent some time shopping for my next gizmo courtesy of the GPS as well). Mine tracks traffic (free 3 month trial, but I’ll likely renew), also does audio books (which I’ve enjoyed listening to and didn’t have to bring a separate piece of equipment), and even acts as the Bluetooth receiver for my phone (which it does amazingly well). In short, I couldn’t be more pleased with my purchase, and it’s saved me time and headache so many times in two weeks it’s hard to imagine life before it. Tonight I missed a turn in Boston traffic and didn’t even flinch. I was back on course and direct to destination. And I only pack one very small piece of equipment.I’m just geeky enough to feel like technology rarely sneaks up on me and just non-geeky enough to feel like I’ve got a life that isn’t tethered to a an electronic device (I fought the cell phone as long as I could), but this one has really changed the way I do things. I can’t imagine paying $2k for a built-in unit in the car (although I’ve noted car manufacturers are now bundling the GPS with other niceties that only come with the package) given the ability of the handheld units for a fraction of the cost.
GPS saves time and provides great information when you’re out and about. Even if it’s local but especially in unfamiliar territory.