The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a navigational system technology which was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for military purposes. Only in the 1980s, it was released to civilians.

GPS receivers are now very common and serve many purposes. In my opinion, every RVer should have a Global Positioning System.

You do not really need a road atlas anymore. Your vehicle or car GPS will give you all the same information and a lot more. Functioning in any weather, 24 hours a day /7 days a week, a Global Positioning System is very convenient and reliable.

This navigational aid will instantly identify your exact location within a few feet, using satellite signals. You will always get your actual latitude and longitude. For information on the altitude you are at, the GPS receiver needs to be locked onto a fourth satellite in orbit.

Charting your trip by entering information in your Global Positioning System will give you the route directions (often vocally) to reach the destination you indicated. You can also get your traveling speed, trip distances and destination distances ahead.

When it is time to select a Global Positioning System, you may use a GPS application available on your mobile phone but you also have more functional options available:

1) a separate handheld GPS

You can buy a self-contained handheld GPS model with a small visual screen. Then you can take it with you canoeing, hiking etc.. It will help you to know how far you have traveled and if by any chance you get lost, track back your route.

It is certainly safer to have such GPS receiver with you in the wild country. Multiple navigation software providing maps of different parts of the world are available. You just have to unload the content to the memory chip of the Global Positioning System.

2) a vehicle or car GPS unit

You can also purchase a unit designed to be installed in your vehicle. The data is contained on CD-ROMS.

Such GPS is dash mounted and will give you all the directions to navigate to your next destination. Most Global Positioning System will give you voice directions to turn right or left in one mile or kilometer etc...

You will have details of all roads and small streets in any city you go by. You can find the location of a specific restaurant or campground through database directories.

3) a navigation software installed on your computer

The third option is simply to transform your personal laptop into a navigation system by buying navigation software on CD-ROMs that will provide the same information.

The maps can be also loaded on the hard disk. There are many laptop holders available to support your portable computer and install it properly at the front of the vehicle.

You will then need an antenna and/or receiver to get the satellite signal. What we call a mouse receiver can be just put inside your vehicle at the front on the dash or installed on the roof, being connected via USB to your laptop.

GPS receivers vary in price from $100 to $1,000. If your budget allows it, you can choose the handheld model to bring with you and have another one with bigger screen to leave in your vehicle. Many smart phones have a GPS feature as well.

After you bought the hardware, you have to buy the maps and download them on the GPS unit.

With the laptop, just purchase some GPS software like National Geographic Back Roads Explorer, Microsoft Streets & Tips and Delorme's Street Atlas. There are many more. Be careful to get the right version functioning on PC or MAC.

There is another GPS program developed for computers by ALK technologies called CoPilot Live II.

This software is largely used by truckers and RVers as well since it provides extra data concerning height, weight and width restrictions in the mapping.

ALK also added propane restrictions to the routings. This info can be quite useful when comes time to travel, knowing ahead if you can cross a bridge without concern to hit the satellite dish on top of your rig.

It is not as user friendly like the other software but the extra information is very worthwhile to have. With a headset, you can talk to CoPilot and control the operation verbally.

You need to stay current on software updates: ALK Technologies


- geocaching as a hobby

For many, the usage of a GPS has become a hobby called geocaching. The idea is to discover treasures designated by GPS coordinates, hidden by others all over the world.

This GPS hobby is getting more and more popular and is a lot of fun, making you discover wonderful locations.

Look at the official global GPS cache hunt site : geocaching

- auto tracking system

Not only can you buy a GPS to help you to navigate to your destinations, you can also install a GPS auto tracking system in your vehicle to locate it in case of theft.

If your tow vehicle or RV itself gets stolen, having this system installed in it will give you the information of the location where it was taken.

Have a look at: Spy Chest

- combined GPS/satellite communicator

The SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger is a revolutionary technology allowing your smart phone or handheld Delorme GPS to become a satellite communicator giving you a line of communication with the rest of the world.

Regardless of where you are, without a need for a cell signal or service, the 'SPOT connect' can send all your GPS locations along your way via e-mails as well as updates of your adventure through social media. It can also request road assistance and summon help in case of emergency.

For all RVers and mostly the ones boondocking , this device is simply fantastic. It provides to your safety without the need of a satellite phone.

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