Wednesday, October 9, 2013

GPS or Map?

The latest Apple Maps flaw which sent drivers along the Fairbanks International Airport taxiway and across a runway might have people questioning their GPS units. We've had our own issues with GPS units when visitors to our home get directed to take a rugged, dirt country road behind our house when there is a perfectly (and well mapped) paved road in front of the house.


So should you trust GPS units and map apps or is the good old paper map the way to go? When we are traveling with our teardrop trailer, when we need to be even more vigilant, we like to use both.

GPS units are useful for finding the quickest route or an alternate route in case of traffic jams or road construction. They are also very useful in more urban areas when looking for specific streets, stores, restaurants and laundry facilities. However, a GPS unit is NOT a map. Don't blindly rely on just a GPS when foraying into unknown territory. A GPS only gives you a very narrow view of the entire location, you need a paper map to see the entire area and plan your trip according to what roads you want to go down and what you might want to see along the way.

Map = big picture
GPS = fine details

One of my favorite blogs, the Long Long Honeymoon, covers this concept nicely in a video. In addition, an article by the Boston Globe confirms that primarily using GPS units to get around affects our brain's ability to assemble a mental picture of where we've been.

Photo by Barbara Gobbi



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