Traveling abroad always raises the question of whether or not you will be needing to purchase an international data plan through your cellular provider. While some of us enjoy the excuse to disconnect from the Wide Web and actually see the World, others always find an excuse to need it. Recently, Google announce the offline maps feature on mobile. This is huge for several reasons. First off, it’s one less reason to pay the fee to your service provider. It also removes the need to rent a GPS system in your rental cars. Lastly, you already have and know how to use the app.
It is not without it’s faults. In order to use offline maps, you need to load the map on a wifi connection and make sure to “get directions” before leaving that connection. From there, the app switches over to GPS and takes you to your destination. The problems arise when you lose cell service, like driving through tunnels in the Swiss Alps. There isn’t currently a way to re-route, so if you happen to miss a turn, you’ll need to find your way back onto your original path, or you could be lost for quite some time. Luckily, almost any business either has guest wifi or will let you borrow their connection to get you back on the right path. We used it to get around several countries in Europe and it did a pretty decent job. Not perfect, but outstanding for a free feature.
I know. Some of you need the data for work. But if you are traveling for pleasure, leave the work at home and just enjoy it for once.