A Global Positioning System (GPS) is no longer a high-tech toy only available to a few. Lower prices, as well as an user-friendly design, mean that anybody who wants one can have it. GPS units are essential for outdoor enthusiasts who need help not only getting to the trail of their choice, but also navigating nature once there.
The principal and most obvious advantage of a GPS is that getting lost will be a thing of the past if you own one and know how to use it. Whether you're driving or walking, a GPS will give you specific directions on how to reach any destination entered. If you're lost in the woods or the mountains, a GPS can locate the closest road or highway so you can find help. For campers and backpackers, a GPS can play the role of both a compass and a map, helping you find your way in remote areas, including parts not delineated on standard maps.
GPS systems come with something called the Panic Button. It is included mostly as a way to help you ask for help if you're in an accident or in need of assistance. However, panic buttons are silent, so they can be handy in case of a carjacking or even more serious emergencies where you want your actions concealed. Once you press the button, the GPS provider is immediately alerted that something is wrong and will send emergency assistance your way. Portable GPS units can also help unlock your vehicle if you've lost your keys and are in an unsafe area or situation, where waiting for AAA to arrive can be a problem. A simple call to the provider (and a few answers to verify your identity) will get your car unlocked from a remote distance. The provider can also start your car if you have lost the ignition keys. Both features are essential in emergencies like having a child or a pet locked inside a car by accident.
GPS systems save money and gas, as you no longer need to drive around aimlessly to find your way. Maps get old, tear and need to be replaced (wasting paper and trees in the process), but GPS units can last for years. While they do run on batteries, you can always get rechargeable ones to lower costs and keep local waters safe from battery acid. Finally, because a GPS allows you to find a location hands-free, which may help protect you from an accident as you concentrate on enjoying your surroundings, rather than looking down to scan a map intermittently.
Article Written By Sarah Dray
Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.