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Which GPS device is best for international travel?

Which GPS device is best for international travel?

Travelling within the US is easy these days thanks to the prevalence of smartphone maps and GPS, but you can't rely on them as much when travelling abroad. You can't rely on your cell phone provider, so it's best to pick up one of the best car GPS trackers to cover yourself for your navigation needs when traveling around the world.

When choosing a GPS tracker though, you need to make sure that the brand you pick has maps for the region you're going to? Whether you're traveling from Prague to Paris, or Beijing to St Petersburg, you need to make sure your GPS can guide you through the right regions.

The top GPS manufacturers are Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan. We've looked at the maps that these three companies offer to help you choose the right option for your grand tour around the globe.

Garmin vs Magellan vs TomTom

Image of Magellan map coverage 

Magellan's devices don't come with maps of Mexico, and there aren't many additional maps for purchase on their website. In fact, the only international map you can buy from Magellan is a map of Europe. Without maps for any other area of the world, Magellan isn't the manufacturer for the world traveler. Magellan devices also don't support any third-party maps, which renders the devices useless outside of the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

If you don't plan to venture outside of North America and Europe, a Magellan GPS might still serve your needs. From their RoadMate line of car navigators, the only product that comes with European maps is the RoadMate 5045-EU. If you decide on the RoadMate 3120-MU, be aware that it doesn't have a map of Canada. And the RoadMate 2035 is missing both Canada and Alaska. If you plan to download the European map, make sure to check that the unit you buy is listed under the compatible units for the download.

Canada as well as a solid network of connecting roads and large cities in Mexico. Additionally, you can buy a detailed map on the TomTom website for navigating the roadways of Europe. There are also available maps that cover large portions of Africa, South America, Oceania and the Middle East.

TomTom's Asian maps are surprisingly sparse, leaving out major countries such as India, China and Japan. TomTom doesn't allow you to add any third-party maps to your device, so if they don't have a map for the region you plan to visit, you might want to look into other brands.

If you want European maps, we'd advise looking into the GO 2535 TM World Traveler Edition or the XXL 540 WTE models. They both come preloaded with comprehensive maps of most European countries and partial maps of others.

One important distinction between TomTom and Garmin is the price difference between their maps. Although Garmin sells maps that cover more countries, their individual maps each cover fewer countries. For example, although both companies have similar map coverage in Africa, Garmin requires you to purchase two or three maps for the same coverage you get with one map from TomTom. This makes TomTom the more affordable choice if you need maps for multiple areas of the world.

the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and the Nuvi 2475LT is also preloaded with a detailed European map.

Compared to TomTom's map selection, Garmin covers more of Central and South America, more of Africa and the Middle East, and much more of Asia. Surprisingly both TomTom and Garmin have no maps of Japan, but Garmin has TomTom beat with coverage of India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. You'll find you have to purchase individual maps for certain countries, but it's well worth buying a map of India or China if you plan to navigate the roads there.

Which GPS device is best for international travel?

The GPS device you choose should guide you wherever your travels take you. If you plan to venture outside of North America and Europe, you're better off going with a TomTom or a Garmin. Just make sure the manufacturer you choose has a map for the areas you plan to visit. If you visit a lot of out-of-the-way locations, a Garmin product might work best because their maps cover more countries than TomTom and Garmin devices work with third-party map software.