GPS Device for use on Long Distance Trains

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Eric in East County

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We’re thinking about buying a GPS device to take with us on our cross-country train trips. We’re thinking in terms of a basic, stand-alone unit that doesn’t have a lot of extra “bells and whistles” that we’ll probably will never need or use.

We’d appreciate hearing from those of you who use GPS devices while traveling on long-distance trains with suggestions on which GPS unit(s) we should be considering. We’d also like to know more about how you get maximum enjoyment from your GPS device while traveling across country by train.

Eric & Pat
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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I find my phone in conjunction with a offline maps app such as Maps.me works just fine. Google maps is always wanting a signal and gets unhappy without one, so a totally offline map app avoids that.

A gps app such as gps status that gives you direct access to your gps info is fun too.

If you have a fairly new phone (last 3 years or so) the phone should be fine.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Oct 21, 2015
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There’s some really great apps you can buy for your smart phone that will do it all. Elevation, speed, etc.

“GPS Tracks” is one I’ve enjoyed.
 

Qapla

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Jul 15, 2019
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Garmin makes a good GPS.

The only thing wrong with GPS units are that many of them are made for driving or hiking and do not have all the train tracks maped.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Garmin makes a good GPS.

The only thing wrong with GPS units are that many of them are made for driving or hiking and do not have all the train tracks maped.
I don't know about GPS units, but my phone's GPS app can be set to "hiking" and will follow the tracks that way.
 

FrensicPic

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Jan 15, 2012
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Garmin makes a good GPS.

The only thing wrong with GPS units are that many of them are made for driving or hiking and do not have all the train tracks maped.
I use a Garmin GPSmap 64st which is in their "On The Trail" series. I use it to "follow" along as we travel. Train tracks show (depending on which maps you are using) when at the 800 foot scale. I use the "tracklogs" to record my trips and for geotagging my photos. The red route lines were generated by the GPS over many trips during the past 10 or so years...TRACKS Rail Trips OCT2019 OSM.jpg
 

lonewolfette9847

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I’ve used a Garmin car gps & it works relatively well on the train. However, my particular model is several years old now & it’s been retired. I poked around Amazon & they have a large selection of name & non-name brands.
 

lonewolfette9847

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I used the suction mount. It was only a 4 hour ride but it was nice to see the info it offered.
 

jiml

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Feb 27, 2019
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The GPSmap series can use an external antenna as seen here on the SWC...
https://flic.kr/p/aAkFF7
I have a unit almost identical to this that came packaged with the last version of Delorme Street Atlas that was made before they were sucked up by Garmin and closed. You can still buy the package new and used online at Ebay and others. It does need a laptop to run. I found its best location tucked behind the window handle in a Superliner sleeper. Although somewhat out-of-date for highways, the software shows all rail lines which really haven't moved location in the last few years. The computer display indicates speed, altitude and other pertinent data. Worked great on the Empire Builder a couple of years ago.
 

tomfuller

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Oct 24, 2012
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My sport is geocaching. Over the past 14 years since retirement, I have found at least 1 cache in all 50 states. I use an old Magellan Meridian. I get them on EBay for less than $90US. I like the Magellans because of the buttons on the front instead of the buttons on the side of Garmin units.
I usually only fire up the unit if I wonder exactly here we are or how fast we are going. GPS usually works well in the Sightseer Lounge.
One memorable geocaching trip I took in 2015 took me on the CZ to Galesburg IL. There is an Enterprise office about 100 yards from the station. I rented a car for 1 week and drove in 20 states finding caches I had preloaded into the GPS. I also attended a one day event of geocachers in MO.
When I returned the car in GBG, I took the SWC to LAX and the CS north to my home station of CMO.
 

Eric in East County

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Jan 20, 2016
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Our thanks to all of you who responded to our inquiry about GPO devices suitable for taking along on a long-distance train trip. We finally decided upon a Garmin GPSmap64st, which was already on our “short list.” (The clincher was the photo posted by FrensicPic showing the external antenna that he uses with his unit when he travels.) We’ll be using it on our trip next summer and will let you know how it worked out for us. Thanks again.



Eric & Pat
 

anumberone

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Aug 8, 2015
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Whatever you get, start using it in your car when ever you go anywhere, I don't know if you have to download maps of areas you plan on going to. My old Garmin does. At any rate, there's a lot of functions you can use to track trips, it takes studying, learn, and using. Don't wait until trip time to get used to it.
 
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