I love to rent cars when I’m traveling. I absolutely love the freedom that having a car allows. On many trips I end up renting a car at least for a day. In the US, navigation is a no-brainer, it’s easy enough to just pull out the cell phone and type in the place that I’m going on Google maps. Bam. Done.
When traveling outside of the US, it’s not that easy (unless you have T-Mobile). Back in 2012, I went to Costa Rica for 11 days, and had a car the whole time! My friend and I were driving literally all over the country. In planning this trip, I decided that I wanted a way to navigate without paying the $6 or $10 or whatever it was a day from the rental company.
I found a pretty great solution. It’s called MapFactor Navigator. Unfortunately, I believe it is only available for Android. I have also heard good things about Maps.me, which is available for iPhone as well, but I have not tested this app.
Navigator has a free version and a paid version. I have only used the free version, and it works pretty well, though it does have a few quirks. To start, all you have to do is download the app and the country maps you want.
The biggest problem I used to have have with MapFactor was searching for destinations. You used to only be able to search by address and by point of interest… but not all points of interest could be found. So, if you were looking for a specific hotel, and didn’t know the address, you would be out of luck in terms of using the app to get there. BUT, in a recent update, it looks like google search was incorporated! I actually just discovered that when I pulled up the app just now, and I’m super excited about it! I looks like the google search in the app may not be as robust as normal google maps search, but it at least is pulling up major hotels and airports, so I consider that a huge upgrade.
One of my favorite things about the app is that you are able to save GPS locations. This is seriously a life saver, especially when staying at small hostels or guest houses that may not be listed on google. Or when you find this awesome waterfall that you got directions to from a local. Ya know, stuff like that.
Seriously, download this app. And download the maps for the places you’re traveling. You won’t regret it.
So to use your app you need wifi, no? or cell phone service? How do you get those when you are driving in a foreign country?
I just take with a cheap Garmin GPS I bought many years a go (uploaded with the maps I need and thats it). I also found a WIFi service (in Europe) called TEP, that lets you have wifi with you anytime you want it. They ship you a little hotspot device (I usually have it ship to my first hotel.). It cost around $5 per day but it is amazingly convenient.
GPS service works even without wifi or cell service… the thing that doesn’t work with google maps, for example, is the loading of the maps, that requires data. With Navigator, you can get around that by downloading the map for the whole country. Since the map is downloaded on the phone, you don’t need data.
I used MapFactor on my Samsung tablet for my trip in Iceland, Norway, London, Vienna and it worked marvelously. MapFactor user interface is not as intuitive as Garmin but that isn’t a critical factor.
Glad it worked well for you! I agree that it is not as intuitive, but it’s free, so I’ll take it! I started using it in 2012, and they have made quite a few improvements since then, imo.
Years ago from Amazon I bought a GPS with world maps.
I take it everywhere, plug it into the cigarette lighter, and go.
Not too expensive. Very convenient.
That’s a great idea too!
What does the paid version do extra?
It gives you access to a different set of maps, I believe.