What to Look for When Buying a New RV GPS

Larger and heavier than cars, RVs present a unique challenge when you are shopping for a GPS unit. Unlike most motor vehicles where low bridges and narrow roads aren’t a problem, RV owners need a GPS that can take into account the specific needs of their larger vehicles. In this buying guide you will find the information you need to choose the best navigational device to help you plan a safe and convenient route to take with your RV.




How to buy a GPS for a RV

A GPS designed specifically for RVs will be able to take into account the larger size and heavier weight of a recreational vehicle. While different units will offer a variety of helpful and convenient functions, there are a few that should be standards on any RV GPS device you are considering. Some of these standard features that you should look for include,

  • Large 5″ to 7″ display.
  • Ability to customize the route based on the RV’s specific measurements. You should be able to enter the height, length, and weight of your vehicle to ensure a safe and hassle free route.
  • Checklist and tools designed specifically for RVs.
  • Included points of interest (POI) that are RV friendly. This can include RV parks and amenities, along with any hazards that might affect your planned route.

These features will help you plan a route that is safe and easy to navigate in your large vehicle. These devices can also come with several other functions that are designed to make the GPS convenient and easy to use. While your budget will help you decide which of these additional features are necessary, there are a few that should be considered.


Memory Capacity

The amount of memory the GPS unit has can be an important consideration, especially if you also receive free map updates. Many devices only offer enough memory for the preloaded maps, and while these units are generally inexpensive there is very little room left for updates and adding favorite points of interest. A RV GPS with expandable memory capabilities are still affordable. Most come with a slot for a SD card which lets you easily expand the memory to hold additional maps and fun or historic POIs. This can also help ensure your intended route is safe and entertaining.


Text to Speech

A RV is large vehicle that often requires complete concentration to safely maneuver it through busy city streets and on unfamiliar highways. GPS devices that come with a convenient “text to speech” feature have the advantage of being able to audibly tell you which direction to turn on a street or upcoming exit. The advantage to this function is that not only will it tell you to turn left or right, but also the name of the street or exit. This way you never have to take your eyes off the road when you are driving.

Some of the newer models manufactured by Garmin also offer its GPS users a “live traffic service”. While there is generally a monthly fee associated with this function, it can be invaluable when you are driving in the city. Being instantly alerted to any traffic or road problems is always a convenient, but it should be noted that this service is only available in some major U.S. cities.




There are also a few higher priced GPS units for RVs that offer XM satellite radio. Not only does it provide you with plenty of stations to listen to, but also up-to-date traffic reports. RV GPS devices with MSN Direct can also provide you with stock market and weather reports, along with local and national news, it can also be used to plan a trip and send the pertinent locations to the GPS device. It should be noted that there is also a monthly fee associated with this convenient service.


MP3 and Bluetooth Compatible

Most GPS devices are MP3 compatible which lets you listen to your favorite playlists without being charged a monthly service fee, and some can even be connected to the radio in the RV. GPS devices are also often Bluetooth enabled which gives you the advantage of being able to make and receive calls without taking your hands off of the steering wheel.


Travel Guides

Some GPS units for RVs also come with the ability to download a complete tour. For a small extra fee the GPS will download a “tour” for you to follow, complete with directions, POIs, and even photos. Fun and convenient, it gives you another option when you are planning your next vacation.