Where in the World Are You?
One of the handiest tools for RV travelers was actually developed by the military for use in the battlefield. Its application for RV travel is much more peaceful, especially as it may help prevent fights about asking for directions.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a worldwide radio wave navigation system formed by twenty-four satellites and ground stations. These form manmade reference points that that can calculate your position down to a matter of a few feet. The advanced forms of GPS the military now uses can calculate positions down to a few inches (very helpful when trying to pinpoint a target). The GPS receivers are very small with miniaturized circuits; as with most technology, the prices have been coming down over the last few years. The receivers work in conjunction with commercial software that you install in your hardware (a laptop PC or PDA). You can also buy hand-held units that can be easily used in many situations. These receivers must have a clear view of the sky without obstacles in order to work properly. Generally, you enter the information about your trip with start and ending points with any side trips or stops you would like to make. The software will calculate the best route for your trip along with estimated times and mileage information. Most of these systems have a voice prompt that will warn you when an exit is coming. You will be able to see your progress on the map. Many software programs also have information about campgrounds, restaurants, rest stops, and gas stations built in.
GPS systems, like many technology products (such as computers and cell phones), have become very affordable over the past few years. Many mid- to high-end motorhomes now come equipped with GPS systems as either part of the standard package or as a very useful option.