Our travel days are usually not very exciting and that's a GOOD thing! Don't get me wrong. It's very exciting when we're driving to new places and seeing new things. But, we prefer the travel itself to be as boring and mundane as possible. 😎

We think preparation and a good RV GPS are crucial to those nice uneventful travel days!

The Night Before Travel

If you saw our camp breakdown and setup video, you know we like to be prepared. For us, the travel day starts the night before with some planning. RV Trip Wizard is the “hub” of all of our travel planning. We use it to find locations and plan each travel day. RV parks, fuel stops, rest areas, and our general travel route are all managed in RV Trip Wizard.

GPS Pre-Program

The first step the night before travel is to plug the destination into the GPS and save it so we don't have to worry about that on travel day.

Once the GPS determines the route, I compare that to RV Trip Wizard to see if there are any major discrepancies. If there are, I trust the GPS and manually move the route in RV Trip Wizard. Discrepancies are rare, but they do occur. Every GPS platform uses different algorithms for routing, but we trust the GPS over the rest.

Stop Planning

With that, the first step is to check the route for fuel stops and rest areas. If the route looks to be mostly interstate, filled with lots of fuel and rest stop options, I generally leave it at that and wing it on travel day using the RV GPS resources. If we're traveling off-interstate with sparse options for fuel and stops, I will find something ahead of time and save it to our trip in RV Trip Wizard.

Once fuel and our lunch stop are ironed out, I like to investigate our destination.

Google Earth / Google Street View

Google Earth and Google Street View are amazing tools! Additionally, RV Trip Wizard makes it simple to jump straight there by clicking on “Satellite Map” right inside the detail view. This launches a new browser tab with the destination centered in satellite view. This gives a great overview of the park itself.

Drag the little street view guy to the map just in front of the entrance and, voila! You're looking at the approach you can expect to see on travel day.

Concerned about your route from interstate or major roads to the destination? Street view lets you move around and see the whole thing! Poke around the area and get comfortable with what the surrounding area and entrance look like before you even start!

Travel Day!

With all of the pre-planning the night before, there's not a lot left to do on travel day except obey the woman in the little black box. We select the destination programmed in the night before and GO!

Once en route, if we want to stop for fuel or lunch, we use the tools built into the GPS. Both GPSs are very good at this but there are some differences.

RV GPS! (head to head)

What makes a GPS an “RV” GPS? Routing! An RV GPS lets you input your RVs details like height, weight, propane, etc and routes accordingly so you don't have to worry about low overpasses, bridge weight restrictions, tunnel propane restrictions etc.

Both GPSs are really very good at what they do but there are some areas where one outshines the other. Note: we're only comparing the two in terms of the features that we use regularly. We don't use the GPS to do travel planning, finding the best rated restaurants, etc. These are the tools we use and our thought on each:

Finding Locations / Destinations

Both GPSs have an extensive database of RV Parks, Campgrounds, etc. and both are good at finding them. However, the Garmin has a leg up on the Rand McNally in that searching acts more like the internet searching we're used to. Type the RV Park location into the Garmin and there's a good chance it will pop right up.

The Rand McNally, on the other hand, behaves more like an old school GPS. Put in the city first, then search or get a list of campgrounds. Additionally, the Rand McNally does that annoying thing where it tries to “help” by predicting and removing keys from the keyboard. Some might like this, but we find it annoying.

+1 for Garmin.

Finding Fuel Stops Along Route

Because we have a huge RV, we can't use just any gas station. We need truck stops and their large diesel fuel islands dedicated to large trucks. If you saw our Big RV in the Truck Lanes video, you know that we use a TSD Fuel card with excellent discounts. Combine that with the ease of the truck lanes and it's a win/win.

We have almost zero use for regular gas stations when towing the RV. However, that's the default behavior of the Garmin and, on first glance, there seems to be no way to find truck stops. After some experimentation, however, the fix for this is simple. With the UpNext showing, select any of the four categories, then click the wrench in the upper left corner. This brings up the screen where you can select what four “things” you want to see in the UpNext feature of the Garmin (an awesome feature by the way). Select the “Custom Search” option at the top and type in “Truck Stops”. Chose an icon to represent this and boom! You have truck stops in the UpNext area.

Once that's out of the way, it's a simple process to find large RV usable fuel stops along your route with just two clicks (upNext then Truck Stops).

On the Rand McNally, truck stops are already baked into the interface as “Travel Centers”. Touch the search bar, select Travel Centers and you get a list sorted by distance along the route.

While both GPS units are very comparable in functionality for finding fuel, it did take some time and experimentation to get the Garmin to show truck stops.

+1 for Rand McNally.

Finding Rest Areas Along Route

Even though we never use the public restrooms in the rest areas (even before COVID), we use rest stops a LOT for bathroom breaks, to do a load check, and almost always for a lunch break.

Both GPS units are very good at finding rest stops with a very minor exception. The Rand McNally shows all of the rest stops, including the ones in the opposite travel direction. Since the differentiator between one versus the other is a very tiny SB, NB, EB, or WB (SouthBound, NorthBound, etc), it can be difficult to select the right one. Select the wrong one and the GPS will try to get you to hit the next exit, make a U-Turn, and go the opposite direction. We'd prefer the GPS to only display the rest areas accessible via our direct line of travel, which is what the Garmin does.

+1 for Garmin.

Display and Route

Both GPSs have a various maps available, each with 3 modes: North oriented (flat), directional (flat), and 3D directional. So there's not a ton of difference in that respect. With that said, however, there is something to be said for the 3D feel of the Garmin maps. Additionally, the Garmin has an 8″ screen while the Rand McNally has a 7″ screen. There is a newer version of the Rand McNally available with an 8″ screen, so size is not as much of an issue.

Screen organization is another key factor when it comes to display. In this area the Garmin has an advantage with more configurable areas at the bottom for things like arrival time, time to destination, distance to destination , etc.

+1 for Garmin.

Lane Guidance

Both GPSs provide lane guidance when approaching an intersection, off ramp, etc. This is in the form of a graphical display showing lanes and which one's are appropriate for your route.

The Rand McNally has a pretty clear advantage on this one by show a much larger lane map, taking the right side of the screen and shrinking the route a little bit and moving it to the left. The Garmin's lane guidance is in a much smaller pop-up style window in the upper right of the display.

+1 for Rand McNally.

Voice Navigation

For voice navigation (where the GPS talks to you), we have a clear winner in the Garmin. The voice is pleasant, concise and accurate. Where the Garmin will say something like “take a left at the red light”, the Rand McNally might say something like “make a left hand turn at the intersection highway elevenee (11E) route five ninety three trumble road” and babble on about every name the road has, mispronouncing most of it, all in a very computer-ey voice.

+1 for Garmin.

Mounts

Both units come with a suction cup mount that can be mounted to the windshield or dash (with an adhesive smooth disc). Both units attach to the mount magnetically, which is a great feature. Being able to easily remove the GPS and eliminate the temptation for GPS thieves is great!

Having used both GPS units by themselves, I feel the mount for the Garmin has an advantage. The Garmin mount is much smaller than the Rand McNally and is black versus silver. This makes the Garmin mount much less conspicuous when the GPS is not mounted. Additionally, the Garmin mount is a bit stiffer, providing more stability when mounted using only the included mount.

We've had both units mounted in the center of the dash with the GPS unit itself resting on the edge of the dash against rubber bumpers. This provides a very solid mount with no shaking for either unit. But, if we did have to mount them without that extra support, the Rand McNally would bounce all over the place.

+1 for Garmin.

DashCam

The Rand McNally does have an integrated dashcam. This can be a definite benefit for those not already running a dashcam. The drawback here is that the GPS needs to be there all the time for the dashcam to be effective since you never know when you're going to need the dashcam. We prefer a dedicated dashcam that's separate from the GPS unit and mounted in the vehicle 24/7. But, for those without a dedicated dashcam, the Rand McNally does provide it.

+1 for Rand McNally

Summary

Both GPS units are really very good. We've used both on multiple travel days and can say that either will do a great job at navigating a giant RV safely from point A to point B.

Given a choice between the two, we prefer the Garmin overall. The larger screen and our aging eyes might have a lot to do with that. But, as you can see above, the Garmin wins on a few key points. So, the winner is Garmin for us.

The key thing is, get some kind of RV aware GPS so you don't have to worry about google maps or waze taking you on some route not suitable for a large RV!


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