Selecting a TomTom RV GPS? 6 Things You Need To Know

How Tos & Tips

Gone are the days of sitting in the passenger seat of your RV as it rolls down the open highway, unfolding and clumsily refolding oversized maps so you don’t miss your exit. Since the advent of personal GPS technology and its widespread availability (and affordability), RV trips have been completely reinvented for the better. We’ve got all sorts of devices at our fingertips to tell us where we are and guide us to where we need to go.

A TomTom RV GPS in action. (richpin06a)

Industry leaders like TomTom made the standalone GPS popular some years ago, but since the dawn of the smartphone era, more and more RVers have been relying on GPS apps (even the free ones that come pre-installed on just about any smartphone) to get them from Point A to Point B. These apps are fine when you’re riding in a sedan, an SUV, or even a minivan. However, you’re faced with unique challenges when you’re in an RV — things that you never even think about when you’re driving or riding in a regular car.

RVs are long, wide, heavy, high profile vehicles. When you’re behind the wheel of one, you’re suddenly faced with a bevy of new concerns: clearance ability, width restrictions, and weight restrictions. And really, the last thing you want when you’re off on an RV adventure is to get stuck because you can’t get over, under, or through an obstacle on your planned route.

If RVing is a big part of your lifestyle, picking up a TomTom RV GPS may be a great decision. Here are six things you should know about your purchase.

1. TomTom has been in the GPS game for a long time.

Or, a long time as far as these things go. Their first GPS product was navigation software for PDAs and was released in 2002; the first standalone TomTom GO came out in 2004. Since then, they’ve released dozens of devices and apps for both iOS and Android, all of which are used around the world. More recently, TomTom has included features that are vehicle specific. This has been tremendously helpful for drivers of RVs and larger vehicles, as these products take into consideration their special needs.

For you the consumer, all of this means that buying a TomTom RV GPS, rather than one made by another navigation product manufacturer, is a choice that you can feel good about. The latest models of Tom Tom RV GPS devices have all the speed and power you’d expect, large five-inch or six-inch screens, and tons of features to make guiding the way to your destination in your RV a snap.

2. The North American models are different than the EU models.

This may not be a huge concern if you’re just heading over to the nearest electronics shop to pick up a TomTom RV GPS, or even if you’re ordering one from an online retailer. However, it’s good to know that in North America, the model you want to buy is the TomTom VIA. The latest model is the 1605M, and it looks like a newer iteration will be out soon. In Europe, the model is the TomTom Go Live Camper & Caravan. Basically, the reason for the difference is the maps with which each model comes equipped.

An RV on the road
An RV on the road. (faungg CC)

3. You’ll appreciate the RV-specific details.

A regular TomTom GPS gives you maps and directions, but a TomTom camper GPS is made for RVers. In addition to the standard features you’d expect, you’ll get routes that are RV friendly, information about KOA camping, and more.

4. They’re versatile.

A TomTom Go Live Camper & Caravan GPS or a TomTom VIA are great for RVs, but they’re also good for other vehicles. They allow you to choose what you’re driving, meaning that you can take it out of your RV, put it back in your car, switch it to auto mode, and not have to worry about avoiding trouble spots. After that, it’s smooth sailing: directions and street names can be spoken, allowing you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road (as they should be!)

5. The maps need to be updated from time to time.

Roads open and close, bridges get built and shut down, and all sorts of new construction projects make routes more direct. As a navigation company first and foremost, TomTom is all about providing its users with accurate and updated maps. As a TomTom RV GPS user, you want to make sure that you’ve got the latest information. Updating the maps on your device from time to time is definitely a smart idea. The downside? You’ll pay extra for it, either when you update or upfront as part of a lifetime map update package. Details on how to do this and what it will cost you are all available on TomTom’s website.

6. They’re pricey, but they’re worth it.

Look: TomTom RV GPSs aren’t cheap devices. You can expect to spend upwards of $200 for one. Yes, that’s a lot of money. However, consider what it might cost you if your RV got wedged under an overpass that’s too low for your vehicle. $200 probably wouldn’t cover your insurance deductible. Ultimately, purchasing a TomTom VIA or Go Live Camper & Caravan is an investment: in your RV, in your safety, and in your peace of mind.

TomTom makes high quality navigation products, and their RV GPS devices are immensely helpful. They’re made to help you find your way to your destination, but to keep you and your fellow travelers safe inside your home away from home. As long as you’re aware of the quirks and details (like those mentioned in this article), you can rest assured that you’ll be able to make the most out of your new TomTom RV GPS.