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Best GPS Units to take traveling abroad

Tomtom 520 Lifestyle
Tomtom 520 Lifestyle (Image credit: Amazon)

Phones are excellent for navigation in many situations, but to get the best directions, you need a dedicated GPS device. This is especially true when you're traveling abroad because you might not have your phone with you. Dedicated GPS devices have updated maps of foreign roads, work without a cellular signal, and are easy to take with you in a rental car or on the go. These are the best GPS units for when you're traveling abroad.

TomTom GO 520 (opens in new tab)

Small and simple

This unit is small, affordable, and easy to take with you in a bag or suitcase thanks to its 5-inch screen. It gets lifetime updates for maps around the globe at no extra cost, which is a significant bonus when compared to its competition. It also works with Siri, Google Now, and can read your text messages and handle phone calls.

TomTom Go 620 (opens in new tab)

Large and in charge

This GPS device is almost identical to the TomTom Go 520. Importantly, it also gets lifetime world maps updates, which is a huge bonus. The main difference between this and its sibling is that the TomTom Go 620 has a larger 6-inch screen. This makes it a bit harder to carry in a bag but gives you a bigger screen to view.

Garmin Drive 52 (opens in new tab)

A good Garmin

Garmin is a solid reputation for a good reason. They're reliable, and Garmin has made GPS units for years. This unit has a road-trip-ready set of features that help you spot historical and notable locations and data from TripAdvisor and Foursquare. The main drawback is that it comes with maps for the U.S. and Canada. You'll have to purchase other regional maps separately.

Garmin in Reach Explorer+ (opens in new tab)

Handheld navigation

Just because you're traveling doesn't mean you'll be in a car. This handheld satellite communicator also has topographical maps and GPS navigation. You'll need an active subscription to get access to all of its features. Also, you'll want to check to make sure it has mapping for where you're traveling.

Casio Pro Trek Touchscreen Outdoor Smart Watch (opens in new tab)

Rugged outdoor gear

If you're traveling in some rugged conditions, you may want to grab a smartwatch that can keep up with your journey. This watch has several features to help you navigate through the outdoors, including an altimeter, barometer, and a built-in GPS. Just make sure to download the maps for the area you want to travel to.

Be cautious about creeping costs

GPS units are often designed for just one region. If you go on Amazon, you'll see a ton of highly rated GPS devices for North America, just the U.S., or Europe. Those devices could very well be excellent, but they won't help you when you're abroad. Some devices allow you to pay for additional content, but the costs of that can add up quickly.

Just the City Navigation Europe NT pack (opens in new tab) for Garmin costs $100. If you end up having to pay for multiple regions, your maps could end up costing more than your device. We included the Garmin Drive 52 (opens in new tab) in this list because its initial cost is so low and the fact that Garmin is a well-respected brand, but if you buy an expensive unit and need to buy maps, you're going to end up spending a lot.

Get up and go travel

Whether you're renting a car, trekking through the outdoors, or navigating as a passenger, you'll want some help with navigation when you travel. There are a wide range of options available, including convenient GPS units for the car, wearable navigation tools, and a handheld communicator with a GPS. If you have the right device, it will provide a definitively better navigation experience than using a smartphone.

If you're in a car, the TomTom GO 520 (opens in new tab) is the way to go. It's small enough to fit into a bag or suitcase, and it's affordable. It gets lifetime updates of its world maps and also works well with your smartphone, including handling phone calls and reading text messages out loud.

If you're traveling off-road, you'll want to check out the Casio Pro Trek Touchscreen Outdoor Smart Watch (opens in new tab). It has built-in GPS and an altimeter. You can also download different maps onto it to make sure you have coverage in an area.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.