June 29, 2008

GPS navigation for your car saves time and money.

Recently I spent a week in Hawaii on the big island with my new wife on our honeymoon. We had a great time. Somewhat surprisingly one of the things that really helped make the trip more enjoyable was my TomTom GPS navigation unit. I bought a basic TomTom One unit around Thanksgiving last year on sale for $150. We used it a lot in Hawaii to get around and it really made things easier for us. We didn't have to worry about getting lost, it was easy to find places and we saved lots of time and money.

I'd recommend getting a cheap portable GPS navigation unit like mine. Ours is pretty basic but it has full street maps of the US, plus there are tons of restaurants, gas stations and other points of interest all ready in it and it works just fine. Bestbuy has around a dozen portable GPS navigation models on sale right now for under $200. Amazon carries a lot of GPS navigation units too. Newegg.com has a variety of GPS navigators as well with some as low as $90.

I've been quite happy with the TomTom. Amazon also has the TomTom ONE for $150 right now. There are some variations on the TomTom models. I'd assume they're pretty similar but you should compare to make sure.

If you do look for a unit then I'd recommend making sure you have one with extensive built in maps, the ability to update the maps, voice prompting (to keep your eyes on the road) and built in POIs (point of interest).

I think its easy to see that a GPS navigation unit saves you time. With one you spend less time looking up places with maps or calling around for directions. Plus it can save you time you might waste if you take a wrong turn or otherwise get lost.

A GPS navigator can also save you some money. Using an indirect route or getting lost will end up costing you extra gas. I remember once getting lost going to a relatives lake cabin and I literally spend over an hour driving around in circles trying to find it. I must have wasted several gallons of gas. While that's not a typical situation, I'm certain my GPS is saving me small amounts of gas here and there when I'm in unfamiliar areas. Another way GPS can save you money is by making you aware of cheaper options for food, lodging, gas or the like. For example if you're on vacation and in a hotel with an expensive restaurant then you may end up spending more money there, but if you have a GPS with a list of nearby restaurants then this opens up your options to look for more practical, less expensive dining.

A portable GPS navigator has the extra benefit that you can take it along with you. We easily toted ours along on vacation and used it in the rental car. With two cars my wife and I can share the one unit and use it in either car as needed.

Overall the convenience and time savings with a GPS navigator are its main benefit. I'd recommend getting a GPS unit for the convenience alone. But it can also save you some cash as well in unwasted gas costs. For us it really did make our vacation more enjoyable.

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