Unless you have someone riding shotgun to help navigate, you’ll want to invest in a decent satnav system.
If you already have a smartphone you can get software installed plus a kit so that you can mount your phone in the car, charge it from your cigarette lighter and listen to directions through your car radio as you drive. Or you can also buy a standalone satnav, especially as the prices are coming down, with models from trusted brands for under a 150, and in some case under a hundred bucks from Amazon.
When I’m going somewhere new I find it’s always a good idea to also print out the route via a route planner. (As I’m in Europe I use either the AA or RAC route planner.)
Satnav systems are great at telling you where you need to go, but not always the best at telling me where I am and where I’m going. They give very simplistic instructions such as “turn left” / “bear right” and, rather than putting my faith in software, I find it best to also have a printed map on standby. Firstly it’s a peace of mind issue, and secondly I’ve yet to encounter a system, no matter how sophisticated, that was able to contend with a simple road works diversion.
“Now turn left” – what, into the cement truck?
Of course that’s probably just me. I freely admit to being a satnav sceptic, in fact I used to find them quite annoying, especially their snooty voices. I’ve since changed my mind, however, following several internal navigational system malfunctions of my own – i.e. I got lost one too many times and decided to cave in and buy one.
Not long after I bought it I had to embark on a Top Gear challenge-type driving trip across Europe and any lingering doubts I might have had about the merits of having an in-car GPS navigation system were quickly dashed. Not only did it help me find my way in record time, by programming it to avoid all those gouging French toll booths the unit more than paid for itself. Last, but not least, thanks to my purchase I need never ask another person for directions as long as I live, which, as a guy, is just priceless.
I find it strange now, looking back, at how I used to think that GPS systems were an unnecessary luxury, just another gadget in a endless ocean of gadgets that men like me were expected to buy. People were surprised, in fact, “I thought you of all people would have one!” But not so, people always make that assumption. Just because I’m a computer guy doesn’t automatically make me a gadget geek, no, I’m more of an adventurous man, a man who likes to explore but never gets lost, ever.
Except I do get lost from time to time – who doesn’t? I get lost because maps are not my forte, and secondly because it’s all too easy for any of us to miss our turn or fail to see a road sign. Whilst a sat nav system is hardly foolproof, I would venture to say it’s a lot more fool proof than me. Ok, so I did mention it gets a little confused whenever there’s a road works diversion but still, my GPS system knows where it is and where it’s going far more than I do. I still print out the route planners, of course, though mostly out of habit.
And yeah, my GPS still sounds like a snooty schoolmistress, but whereas before I found her voice intrusive, nowadays I find it reassuring. I’ve even given her a name. Now that’s a huge step for a former GPS sceptic, wouldn’t you agree?
Whilst I’ve also used it a lot for personal use, I bought my navigation system specifically for business purposes and I now realise that it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. It saves me a lot of time, stress and hassle and, because I can program it to ignore toll roads and also show me where to find the cheapest prices for fuel, it’s already paid for itself ten times over.
So if your business requires you to drive from time to time, even if it’s just to the occasional meeting, you cannot afford to be without a sat nav system because, with prices so low these days (especially with January sales still on at the time of writing) the cost of a unit can easily be recouped in a month or so, after which time you’ll find that, not only does it save a lot of time, in the long run, by having a GPS system you’ll also be saving yourself a ton of money.