If you’ve a smartphone with GPS, such as an iPhone, there’s a nifty, free way to turn it into a sat-nav you can use abroad. Simply download one of the following free apps to your phone (if an Android user, you may already have Google Maps).
While the apps won’t have the bells and whistles of a traditional sat-nav, they will do the job for occasional use and get you from A to B.
Crucially, you won’t have to use any data when overseas. Download the apps and maps before you go and then they’re stored offline in your phone – the apps use your phone’s built-in GPS to locate you and you don’t need data or Wi-Fi.
That’s particularly handy if you’re going outside Europe, where hefty charges can apply. Within the EU, data’s now usually free – but not always, so to be safe you may as well download before you go anyway.
Here are our three top-pick sat-nav apps – all free to download and use:
- Google Maps works offline too – so download before you go: The Google Maps app (available on Android or iPhone) is the one we’ve all heard of (and it’s on many Android phones by default). Easy to use, it works much like its desktop counterpart and includes restaurants and reviews. You can use it offline, as long as you download maps in advance. It also offers real-time traffic and train info, though for that you’ll need a Wi-Fi or data connection.
How to download Google Maps to use offline
- Great for driving and country-by-country apps: Navmii is free for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone (though the Blackberry and Windows Phone apps are no longer being updated). It comes with pre-loaded maps, route planning, voice prompts, mileage tracking and real-time hazard reporting.
Navmii has maps for 196 countries, including the UK – to find them, search in your phone’s app store for Navmii plus the country, eg, ‘Navmii France’. If you prefer, you can download a worldwide app to cover the lot. Navmii has adverts but you can go ad-free for £1.49.
By contrast, paid downloadable maps from sat-nav maker TomTom started from £17.99/year (or £4.99/month) at the time of writing.