Cell Phone Navigation

Smart phone navigation without using data, two apps.

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Navigating Without Data

If you are like us, cell usage, while getting less expensive, can still sneak up and bite out a chunk of your budget now and than. Often this happens while having to use data in a foreign country. Lost in a European city one afternoon I used up $15 of data just getting us oriented as to which way to walk.

With the right cell phone map app and proper usage you can navigate a foreign city without needing a data connection. It’s the map that needs to be acquired from the internet that costs data. Most smart phones have GPS built in that does not require data to find its location. The phone always knows where it is, it just can’t show you without a map. By selecting the right app and downloading maps before your trip you can find your way around cities step by step without a data connection. There are several apps and ways to download maps for destinations before leaving on the trip. Because of limitations in how much stuff you can keep on your phone you may have to remove some maps before you load new ones, but this can be done from your hotel’s wifi as you travel.

One app you can do this with is Google Maps (instructions here). One limitation is you can only keep them on your phone for 30 days (google’s requirement). There is also an app called Citymaps available for Android and iPhone that does the same thing without the 30 day limitation. Both of these apps will also include points of interest and bars, coffee shops, restaurants and hotels. If you do use data they will also update with current reviews.

There are also tablets that have built-in GPS but they are less common. Before leaving, make sure that your tablet/pad has an independent GPS function or you will be frustrated.