Regarding "What's the Best Way to Go, Map or GPS?" [On the Spot, by Catharine Hamm, Feb. 2]: I think the best answer is, "Both!"
Except for a road map of the entire island of Ireland, which appeared to have every highway, street and lane, even the
For this, the GPS is much better.
Since we got a GPS, my wife and I no longer yell at each other, "Which way? and "I don't know. The map doesn't say!" when driving in Europe. The GPS tells us.
But we still find maps much better for planning both the entire trip and each day's adventures when on a driving vacation, both here in the United States as well as in Europe.
You can rely on a phone-based system, but I still like a GPS plugged into the car's cigarette lighter. The major manufacturers all make GPS units covering both the U.S. and Europe.
From now on, I'll use both. Last October we were doing fine with GPS in Germany until we came to a temporary (weather-related) roadblock on the way to Oberammergau. The GPS lady kept yelling at us, but we had to turn around and start over with our inadequate map. Then we found a tourist info office — closed for lunch, but the nice employee told us to follow the road signs to Fussen. Oberammergau will have to wait for next time. I also noted that, when we finally got on our way to a real destination, the GPS lady was suffering about a 90-second delay on her instructions, enough to make them ridiculous.
One more example: On the same trip, the guide book advised avoiding driving into Austria on the way to Berchtesgaden because that country assesses a hefty tariff for using its freeways even when you're only going to use a few miles of one. Fair enough, but the GPS lady ... well, you get the picture.
After an adventure last year through Ireland, where we hired a car to tour the country, using a map, we come down squarely in favor of spending the extra money on a GPS. Granted, we saw a lot more of Ireland than we had planned, a plus. And we met friendly, delightful and fascinating folks who were eager to help us find our way. That was priceless, as the ad says.
But why choose? A traveler can easily have both. Maps are handy for getting an area's big picture. By writing notes of photos, meals, sights and people, the traveler can use a map to memorialize a trip and provide reminders when sorting things out back home.
And GPS systems have been known to make mistakes.
I just wanted to share my feelings about Kevin Coffey's presentation [on how not to be a crime victim] at the L.A. Times Travel Show on Jan. 18 and 19. My friend and I both agreed that it was fabulous. We learned so much, and I need to share all of this information with my daughters. I was wishing they could have been there to hear him speak. The videos of the thieves in action were so enlightening. I came away from his presentation with a wealth of knowledge. I will be purchasing some of the items mentioned for my upcoming trip. I will also be more careful with my purse in restaurants, even in my local area. I have been too trusting. I would have to say that Coffey's presentation was the most interesting and educational part of the travel show for me.