Road Trip 2010 prep: loading up the GPS

closeHey, just so you know ... this post is now about 9 years and 3 months old. Please keep that in mind as it very well may contain broken links and/or outdated information.

We’re getting ready for our big summer vacation road trip starting next weekend: over 4,000 miles in 9 days through 12 states. As we finalize our plans, finish packing, and prepping the car, I took some time this weekend to get my Garmin nüvi GPS ready for the trip, the first step which was to purchase the latest map update.

Once that was done (I opted for the lifetime subscription so I can update up to four times a year), it was time to get all of the waypoints and routes into the unit. Now I’ve loaded points-of-interest (POI) files into my GPS before, but for this trip I delved a bit deeper into the setup and use of POIs to make them (hopefully) more helpful and useful during the road trip.

First, I needed Garmin’s latest POI Loader utility. Next, I grabbed all the POI files I wanted from POIFactory.com. Finally, I read Gary Hayman’s Garmin Tricks, Tips, Work Arounds, Hints, Secrets and Ideas website. It’s a little hard to look at, but wow it contains a huge amount of well-organized information on working with your GPS and POI files. With my new-found knowledge of the inner workings of POI files and the nüvi, I was able to load the individual files onto my GPS and configure the proximity alerts accordingly.

For example, some files (like locations of Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, or Starbucks) I loaded just for reference, with no proximity settings. The rest stops file I set up so that we’ll get notified when we’re within 2 miles of a rest stop along our route. The other files, like cool places to visit, offbeat tourist attractions, or specific restaurants, I set up as TourGuides so that if we get within a 10-mile radius, it will trigger a proximity alert and then we can decide if we want to divert to that point.

I also experimented with Garmin’s MapSource product. I’d seen this before when I purchased map updates for my old StreetPilot, but never actually used it. For this trip, instead of manually typing in all of our hotels and destinations directly on the nüvi (which can be a pain with the touchscreen), I just entered them into MapSource on my PC, categorized them, set icons, and then downloaded everything to the GPS at once. Pretty slick. When we’re done with the trip, I should be able to download the track we drove and see exactly where we wandered during our 9 days in the midwest.

We hit the road in just five days …

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