Standalone sat navs have made it possible for US travelers to Europe to bring their navigation systems with them. While some have pre-installed maps, you can also conveniently download these maps and routes using Wi-FI.
The kit usually has a bracket and suction cup for easy attachment and transfer from one hired car to another. You can fix the system on the vehicle’s dashboard or the windscreen. However, the sat nav should not obstruct or distract your view of the road for safe driving.
Will My Sat Nav Work in Europe?
Your sat nav will work if you have installed a well-detailed European mapping system. Most devices come with territorial maps, and only a few have global maps.
Find and install maps corresponding to the European address you will visit. In-built Wi-Fi systems have simplified this since you can wirelessly download these maps or update your pre-installed maps.
Sat Navs primarily rely on GPS services to locate your current and destination addresses. This information determines the fastest route, saving you time and fuel. If you take a wrong turn, the sat nav will automatically re-calculate the best route to get you back on track.
The display of a sat nav is typically bigger than your smartphone’s. This bigger interface gives you a clearer view of your upcoming routes, terrain, amenities, and weather conditions. It will also periodically relay your estimated time of arrival (ETA) based on your current cruise speed.
Sat navs are prices start from as low as $100.If you need value for money and more features, you must be willing to spend a little bit more. Premium devices have a better user interface and provide more accurate navigation instructions.
Best Sat Nav Systems that Work in Europe
TomTom and Garmin are the major manufacturers of sat nav systems. Their products are of the highest quality and have been optimized to help you reach your destination with minimal fuss.
TomTom Sat Nav
TomTom is arguably the best Sat Nav system in Europe. Since it is a Dutch company, they are pretty conversant with the terrains and transport systems around Europe.
It is accurate, has plenty of functional features, efficient customer support, and appeals to both foreigners and locals.
While you can use this sat nav in Europe, you need to change your map zone. The zoning of European cities and countries makes it easier for you to navigate, even if you’re a first-time visitor.
Most zones have full door-to-door navigation, but countries such as Bulgaria (60%) and Ukraine (44%) have partial coverage.
If the maps are not detailed enough, check with the Europe Map Zone for additional and detailed information on the region. Your navigation device is primarily used to determine if your TomTom has installed European maps. (Find out more about your device map version.)
Since TomTom allows for offline use, you can avoid incurring roaming charges. However, some of its features require an active internet connection to function.
The TomTom Traffic feature requires the internet to give you real-time alternative routes when there are snarl-ups on your usual routes.
TomTom is compatible with most smartphone models. It integrates well with leading phone personal assistants such as Siri and Google Now to make the driving experience smooth.
The voice recognition feature is not just for navigation; you can also receive calls and send and receive messages hands-free.
Here is a detailed guide on its features and usability:
- High Accuracy
- Real-time traffic updates
- Last-mile navigation
- Speed camera updates
- Track fuel prices
- Less intuitive interface
Garmin Sat Nav
Garmin is a globally renowned manufacturer of innovative mapping and tracking products using GPS technology. Their automotive sat navs are used by navigators and adventurers across Europe.
They usually come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A full charge will power your sat nav for up to one hour.
We particularly liked the Garmin displays. Available between 4 to 9-inch sizes, the end-to-end touchscreen is much more responsive than TomTom. The graphics are better, enabling you to read the maps using recognizable landmarks easily.
Besides touchscreen control, Garmin sat navs have built-in voice control features. These features include Bluetooth calling and Amazon Alexa integration.
Enjoy hands-free audio playbacks and search for nearby points of interest (POI) such as petrol stations.
Driver alerts increase your situational awareness as your cruise along new routes. The system scans the surroundings and alerts you as you approach sharp bends or railway crossings. These alerts are available offline.
Accessorize your sat nav with the Garmin Dash Cam. It automatically records and saves any incidents along your journey. The voice control feature takes commands in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, as well as Swedish.
- Sleeker and modern design
- Lifetime map updates
- Junction assists
- Driver alerts
- Less accurate traffic updates
What To Consider When Using Sat Nav in Europe
Most European countries use kilometers rather than the miles system, which is predominant in the US. It is crucial when estimating the distance and time you’ll use to get to a particular destination. It will also help you keep within the speed limits when driving through neighborhoods.
Like cell phones, operating a sat nav while driving is unlawful. The law stipulates that you must stop to do even the basic functions such as entering coordinates.
Rerouting while driving is a traffic offense and attracts penalties or even suspension of your driving license.
Make sure to always program the Sat Nav before embarking on your journey. Alternatively, opt for voice navigation systems for hands-free access. Besides, since you are not fully concentrating on the road, you may endanger other road users.
It’s virtually impossible to enjoy all sat nav features of sat navs without an active internet connection. Roaming rates depend on your carrier and roaming around Europe; these charges will quickly become too expensive.
Make use of available local Wi-Fi networks. In retrospect, ensure you turn off the roaming feature on your handset to avoid using data without your knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Increase The Memory System of My Sat Nav?
The memory spaces of many systems range between 8 to 16GB. The sat navs usually have microSD or USB slots which are helpful when installing new system updates and storing additional maps. Remember that the memory device you use should be compatible with Sat Nav system, or they won’t function.
Can I Upgrade My Sat Nav?
While you can regularly update your sat nav, upgrades are quite tricky. It is primarily due to software incompatibility and hardware differences. You’ll have to buy a new kit altogether to enjoy the more recent features.
How Often Should I Update My Sat Nav?
You need to update your sat nav as soon as you receive an update notification. Update your system via Wi-Fi, USB, or by physically visiting any of the authorized dealerships strewn across Europe.
Constant restructuring and improvement of road systems mean the old maps have to be reconfigured. Besides, the service provider keeps fixing inefficiencies in the navigation systems. For optimum functionality and accuracy of the mapping system, never ignore an update.
While Sat Navs usually get the job done, they are not 100% reliable. The system may not have picked up renovations or rerouting, especially if you use an old system. Regularly update the systems as soon as you get a prompt from the service provider.
Pick up the latest hard copy maps as you enter unfamiliar territory. You can also employ the use of a trusted local guide. They understand the routes better and provide handy tips for beating traffic or reducing trip lengths.