The Road to Ruining Your RV Vacation: GPS Mistakes to Avoid

Choosing the wrong GPS can spell disaster for your home on wheels. Let’s yap about some key tips to keep you from winding up like my buddy, who found himself wedged on a winding mountain pass when his GPS led him astray. Talk about a sardine can situation!

Underestimating the Size of Your Rig

RVs come in all shapes and sizes, from compact camper vans to luxurious 40-foot land yachts. And make no mistake, size matters when picking a GPS! You’ll want to account for the total length, width, weight, and height of your specific RV to avoid hairy situations on the road.

My neighbor learned this the hard way when her dinky passenger vehicle GPS guided her enormous Class A motorhome down a scenic rural route. Let’s just say the tree branches were less than welcoming to her vehicle’s 13-foot 6-inch height! Don’t end up picking pine needles out of your AC units — measure twice, GPS once.

Measure Your Actual Dimensions

Manufacturers’ specs may not reflect custom modifications or accessories that impact your true clearance. Be sure to physically measure and input your RV’s real-world length, width, height, and weight into your device to stay street legal and scrape-free!

Consider All Parts of Your Rig

Your RV isn’t just a driving cabin — it’s a whole home! Many units have significant overhangs, accessories like bikes or cargo pods, or even toad vehicles in tow. Account for every inch so your GPS can route responsibly.

Update Settings for Total Weight

A GPS unaware of your heavy rig’s true weight could lead you over bridges or roads with load limits. Program your actual gross vehicle weight to avoid potential structural surprises!

Choosing Consumer GPS Devices

That handy GPS you rely on in your Toyota isn’t necessarily up for guiding a lumbering RV. Many consumer models lack critical considerations for life in the slow lane:

Insufficient Map Data

Many affordable GPS units have limited storage and rely partially on digital map connectivity. But as any seasoned RVer knows, cell service can be sporadic out on the open road! Seek units with ample onboard maps to avoid losing your path.

No Truck Route Mapping

Passenger car GPS devices won’t account for bridge heights, sharp turns, and narrow country roads that require big rig routing. Opt for a commercial-grade GPS designed specifically for trucks and RVs.

Minimal Mounting Options

Suction cup windshield mounts don’t cut it in an RV! Look for units with adjustable mounting arms or screens that allow flexible positioning. You’ll want visibility without blocking sight lines.

Limited Power Options

In an RV, you can’t just plug into a cigarette lighter. Seek GPS systems with hardwiring kits or batteries to juice up on the go.

Neglecting Real-Time Route Adjustments

Paper maps may trumpet “shortcut ahead,” but digital mapping can adjust on the fly when conditions demand detours. Take advantage by monitoring real-time routing.

Activate Traffic Alerts

GPS traffic monitoring provides advance notice of clogs, construction, and delays so you can adjust your route accordingly. It helps skirt jams — and maybe find that perfect rest stop after all!

Keep Maps Updated

Map databases go stale quickly. Regularly update to ensure your GPS has the latest intel on freshly paved roads, recent closures, and shifting speed limits.

Confirm Oversized Vehicle Access

Some RV markers on GPS maps are based on dated or incomplete info. Always call ahead to confirm oversized access before trusting an RV-friendly looking route.

Report Unreliable Routing

If your GPS consistently steers gigantic rigs downHandlers Alleyways or orders impossible turns, report the issues so the company can adjust. Your feedback improves things for fellow travelers.

Pinching Pennies on Half-Baked GPS

When investing in a GPS to shepherd your home-on-wheels cross country, it pays to remember: You get what you pay for. Don’t penny pinch on dodgy discount devices or try cobbling together piecemeal options. Spring for a purpose-built, reputable RV GPS.

Beware Used Bargains

That eBay deal on a used fleet model GPS may be tempting, but buyer beware. Outdated maps or hard-to-replace proprietary devices are money pits, not bargains.

Don’t Skimp on Entry-Level

Chintzy brands lure with low stickers only to nickel and dime you for charts and support. Aim for established names known for RV-specific focus.

Resist Phone App Temptation

What you save on cost, you lose on connectivity and plug-in power needs. Purpose-built GPS are self-powered road warriors, not battery drains.

Shop All Required Components

That screaming deal on a GPS screen is less sweet if you also have to buy maps, traffic service, custom mounts, etc. Bundle for savings and simplicity.

Banking Too Much on GPS Guidance Alone

GPS is indispensable technology, no doubt – when used in tandem with common sense and navigational awareness! Don’t let misplaced trust leave you high and dry.

Have Backup Navigation Resources

Bring maps as redundancies in case of lost signal or flat batteries. And brush up on real map reading skills — you may need them!

Know When to Ignore

If your GPS insists on a dicey-looking dirt road, obscure railway “shortcut,” or other dubious guidance, trust your judgement. Override!

Maintain Situational Awareness

Staring slack-jawed at a GPS screen leads drivers astray. Stay alert to signs, landmarks, and hazards as you travel. The big picture helps spot errors.

Confirm Routes in Advance

Give new routes a dry run by reviewing together as a team before rolling. Identify any red flags that merit double checking directions.

Botching the Installation

Rushing through GPS installation rarely ends well for man or machine. Save blood, sweat, tears (and maybe marriages!) with a methodical approach:

Research Your System

Some GPS can be quirky or complex, especially commercial models. Study installation guides and chat forums to sidestep surprises.

Mind the Details

Follow technical specs for wire gauges, fuse loads, torque settings, and component spacing. Cutting corners will come back to haunt!

Allow Plenty of Time

Cramming wiring and configuration between campground checkout and your next destination is asking for trouble. Schedule ample installation hours.

Involve Your Copilot

Have a second set of hands on deck to test connections, monitor alignment, run wires, and confirm everything functions before hitting the road.

Seek Expert Help if Needed

For extensive rig rewiring or intricate roof mount placement, leave it to the pros. Some jobs are worth the shop labor fees for peace of mind.

Ready to Roll!

Now you’re primed for mapping your course without expensive mishaps or family flip-outs from faulty guidance. Just remember the RVing motto: Take the journey as it comes.

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