Extracting from the comments a question on buying a GPS in the UK, what is the most cost effective way to get turn-by-turn navigation in the UK?

Comparison of costs:

  • 3
    google maps printout and a copilot Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 10:06
  • What vehicle are you renting? Some (not all) vehicles have built in GPS.
    – Kami
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 10:16
  • @Kami We just go cheap and nasty, so some kind of mini-hatchback which will almost definitely not have GPS. :)
    – dlanod
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 10:34
  • As long as you only want directions based on static data (maps) and not live data (traffic), the cost for using your phone is $X/MB * 0MB = 0. Download the maps for free on an unmetered connection before starting your trip. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 15:12
  • 1
    The question is protected, but here is my suggestion: you can use sygic. It is an offline navigation app available for both Android and iPhone. You can buy maps either for individual countries or in bundles. We have used it for western Europe (Spain, Netherlands) and it works quite well, and is very cost effective.
    – Dhara
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:23

4 Answers 4


If your phone is Android, you can download MapFactor or one of many other apps for free which allows offline navigation based on the maps from the OpenStreetMap project. Be sure to download the maps (also for free) via Wlan before you need them.

  • 1
    @Gilles: I think the edit is Ok, but MapFactor is really the only one I know of that is free and supports offline navigation.
    – Axel
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:01
  • Just saw that there are others (the first one in the link requires a connection for calculating the route, but it seems there are others that don't).
    – Axel
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:03

Along with this question, you can get a Data Sim from O2 for GBP10 that offers 1GB of data. That should be enough for quite some time of navigation I would think, and it's cheaper than any of your listed alternatives.

The additional advantage is that you will not have to pay for internet in the hotel or elsewhere to do your email or send some photos home. If you put those costs into your budget, this method might pay for itself, depending on how much the hotel charges you for internet or if you are willing to always scout for free access internet.

On top of that, you can use the cellphone to navigate you while you are walking through the city more comfortably than carrying a GPS around with you.

Along with EdmondYeung99's suggestion, it's of course highly recommended t equip yourself with a car usb charger!

  • 1
    If you are not particular about which mobile operator - Lycamobile provide unlimited data for £5.
    – Kami
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 11:13
  • @DavidRicherby: I think the point is if you have a sim card with data, then you won't have to pay the hotel. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 14:06
  • 2
    If you're looking to get a data SIM, and you can arrange for it to be delivered to your hotel, it is worth looking into giffgaff, which has unlimited data at about that price range.
    – E.P.
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 14:59

If you currently have a GPS device, you may be able to load OpenStreetMap based maps on it for free. eg this is possible for most models of Garmins.

For getting OSM maps on a Garmin, easiest to use this website: Garmin.OpenStreetMap.nl. You can pick which country you want, and it will give you a file to download. Depends on your device and how much memory it has, you may be able to load maps for a number of countries at once. Or you could put maps on separate SD cards, and swap them around as required.

OpenStreetMap generally has good coverage for roads in most of the UK. Plus it has a lot of off-road details, eg footpaths, and lots of points of interest, eg shops, pubs, hotels. OSM can be regularly updated, so often has newly built roads not yet shown on any other maps.

  • Are the OSM maps usable for navigation? Do they have the right data for the device to compute fastest routes, one way streets, roads versus sidewalks, etc? Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 14:09
  • 2
    @NateEldredge Yes. The data may not be as complete regarding speed predictions on different roads, but it's definitely enough to drive by. With offline maps, what you'll miss is real-time traffic information, which may or may not be important depending on where and when you drive. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 15:14

I would highly recommend getting a GPS over using mobile with data. From my experience, mobile signal is sketchy outside of the city. Also you don't have to worry about your phone battery etc.

Try some companies that just rent GPS devices (on the cheap):

Regarding GPS from the car rental company:

The cheapest car options from most car rental companies in the UK, are still new models and often come with GPS albeit disabled. Call them up to see if they incl GPS for free or if its an extra. I've experienced both cases where we skipped on the GPS only to find the car came with the GPS for free. The other time it was disabled.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .