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What's the best car Sat Nav for camping?

Having just recently got back from a trip to southern Spain, I was reminded about the need to have a Sat Nav with adequate features and maps to be able to get around.

So we have decided to do a feature about Sat Navs for your car when camping. However, I do need to point out that this is just for your standard Sat Navs and not those that are geared more towards Caravan and motor home users to send you down routes that are suitable for the larger vehicles where possible like the Garmin Camper 660LMT-D or TomTom Start 60.

So what do you need to look for?

  • The make of the GPS is probably what will drive most people - possibly the 2 main powerhouse for satellite navigation devices are Tom Tom and Garmin which is what we are going to talk about due to their popularity, but there are other brands out there that some feel are as good as these.
  • The maps contained on the unit - When you buy your SatNav it will come preloaded with map data. Now if you only ever plan to go camping within the UK then this is not a problem. However, if you get braver and decide to either take your car abroad or take your SatNav to use in a hire car abroad then you will have problems, even if it is just to the Republic of Ireland (ROI). You can get them with both UK and ROI map data included fairly cheaply, but as for the rest of Europe you need to be prepared to buy new map(s). These new maps would be downloaded onto your device normally via your computer and in some instances might require that you backup and remove some or all of your existing maps to fit the new one on! Finally you need to be sure that the Europe map(s) that you have or put onto your device are the full maps and not just the major roads of western Europe which will take you to the main areas but doesn't necessarily go down to the street by street level.
  • Can you get updated maps? - Satellite navigation devices are a huge help getting around areas that you don't know without too much stress. However, as I have discovered to my cost if your maps are out of date then things can get tricky. I was driving in a town in Spain that had had major road redevelopment which meant that as far as my Tom Tom was concerned I was driving off road through fields, and another time I ended up in an Orange grove instead of someone's house! With some devices it is possible to get updateable maps for the 'life' of the device or at least until they stop supporting it!
  • How good is the battery? - On average most SatNavs will run for about 1-2 hours.
  • Does it come with a charger lead and Mounting bracket? - This pretty much speaks for itself. If there is no way of charging the SatNav on the move then you will be restricted to only using it until the battery runs out. As for the mounting device you will need some way to secure the SatNav to the dashboard or windows. Some of these mounting points have the power built into them and so you won't have the charger lead hanging out of the SatNav.
  • Does it have up to date traffic information? - Traffic information can be downloaded to the device so that it can more accurately work out journey times and be able to take traffic jams into account when calculating the route to take.
  • Does it have Bluetooth connectivity? - This will enable the SatNav to connect up to your Bluetooth enabled smartphone.
  • Does the SatNav have the ability to show additional information? - Some will be able to let you know where useful locations are in relation to your position. For example they might show you the nearest cash point, petrol station, railway station, port, airport or even speed cameras! Though with the speed camera option make sure that this can be disabled if required as it is illegal in some European countries, see Driving in France.
PictureModelMaps / Lifetime UpdatesBatteryTraffic UpdatesSatNav DimensionsIncludedOther info
TomTom GO 510 5 inch Sat Nav with World Maps - Black
World Maps / YesUp to 2 hours autonomous operationVia smartphone connectivity2.2 x 14.5 x 9.1 cmMagnetic Click and GO Mount + Charging LeadSee on Amazon

TomTom GO 60 6 inch Sat Nav
UK, Western Europe / YesUp to 2 hoursVia smartphone connectivity2.2 x 17 x 10.5 cmIntegrated mounting with flip screen + Car ChargerSee on Amazon
TomTom Start 25 5 inch Sat Nav - Black
UK, Western Europe / YesUp to 2 hours autonomous operationNo2 x 13.4 x 9.5 cmIntegrated mounting with flip screen + USB car charger, USB cableSee on Amazon

Garmin DriveSmart 50LMT-D 5-Inch Satellite Navigation
Ireland and Western Europe / YesUp to 1 hour Via smartphone connectivity1.8 x 14 x 8.4 cmVehicle power cable - Vehicle suction cup mount - USB cable
See on Amazon
Garmin nuvi 57LM 5-Inch Satellite Navigation System
UK, Ireland and Western Europe / YesUp to 2 hours No2 x 8.6 x 13.9 cmVehicle power cable - Vehicle suction cup mount - USB cable
See on Amazon
Garmin nuvi 2569LMT-D 5" Sat NavUK, Ireland and Western Europe / YesUp to 2 hours Free Garmin DIGITAL Traffic via DAB1.8 x 8.4 x 13.8 cmVehicle power cable - Vehicle suction cup mount - USB cableSee on Amazon

You can see our detailed reviews of these Sat Navs here.

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