Almost everyone has a GPS these days. They have largely replaced maps and make it easier to get from point A to point B—unless they instruct you to drive from point A into a pond somewhere. Sometimes your GPS makes no sense, so learn when it’s time to turn it off and read a map.


When the Streets Have No Name

It’s a good idea to look at a map before you leave on a trip, especially when you’re traveling to an unknown place. That way, whether you’re visiting BMW of Towson or Bourbon Street in New Orleans, you know a bit about cross streets and recognisable landmarks. Then you’ll realize something is wrong when your GPS tells you to take Main Street but there’s no Main in sight.

When 90 Minutes Becomes 5 Hours

Even though it’s a stunning technological advancement, even a GPS experiences confusion on occasion. When this happens, you might discover that your short journey turns into an epic road trip. If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before but know roughly how long the trip takes, pay attention! While detours and traffic jams add some time to your trip, they shouldn’t add hours and hours.

If you’ve been on the road too long, stop and ask a real person for directions or at least get your bearings. Your GPS is not infallible and listening to it at all costs is actually dangerous. Losing hours on your journey is annoying but it could be worse. Because of their blind trust, a group of tourists drove straight into the ocean. Also, a family found themselves lost in the desert and suffered a horrible loss because of their belief in their GPS. Don’t always believe yours.

When North Is Somehow South

Who would have thought a GPS could mess up map coordinates? If your destination is west but you’re traveling east, stop. Don’t go north when you’re supposed to head south. Sometimes your GPS may even tell you that your destination is on the left when it’s clearly on the right. Take directions with a grain of salt and always double-check. Don’t doubt your instincts, either. Trust your eyes, not the GPS.

When You Hear a “Recalculating” Mantra

Sometimes your GPS is sure of itself. Sometimes it’s not. If it gets lost in an obnoxious “recalculating” loop, it’s time for you to recalculate instead. Pull over, look at a map, pull up alternate directions on your phone, and reset your GPS. Remember, it’s not always right. It can even suffer malfunctions. Don’t pay for its confusion.

When Rome, Italy Turns into Rome, New York

While that mistake isn’t likely to happen, what if you’re heading to a well-known attraction and there’s a similarly named locale in the vicinity? In England, a woman who wanted to visit a castle ended up at a pub instead—and still didn’t believe her GPS steered her in the wrong direction. Pay attention to visual cues. If your instinct wars with your GPS, trust your gut and your common sense.

The GPS is a dandy little invention that gets you where you need to go—most of the time. Has yours ever guided you completely off-course?