If you are thinking of investing in a Caravan Satnav, here is my independent review of the Tom Tom GO Camper, which we purchased with our own money and have used in Europe for the last year.
We bought our Tom Tom in Budapest, after our Snooper gave up the ghost half way around Romania. This was its final revenge, after denying the existence of the DN7 trunk road and leading us instead through two cornfields and along a footpath. Electronics were outrageously expensive in Romania, so we waited until Hungary to buy a replacement.
The Tom Tom GO Camper has navigated us successfully on our travels for over a year in the UK, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. As such, we can give an honest review of both its functionality and reliability across several European countries. Within its first year, our Snooper had already broken and been replaced by the manufacturer.
Why Buy a Caravan Specific Satnav?
For touring in the UK and Europe, a caravan specific satnav is one of the last things that I would leave behind. They are more expensive than a standard satnav, but in my view, represent a worthwhile investment to provide peace of mind and (for the most part) stress-free towing.
Dedicated caravan / motorhome satnavs allow you to input the dimensions of your vehicle or rig to ensure that your route will avoid low bridges, narrow roads and over-sharp bends, weight restrictions and steep hills. Most are easy to toggle between ‘Caravan’, ‘Motorhome’ or ‘Car’ mode, according to which vehicle you are driving.
Depending on the model, you might also have thousands of campsites pre-programmed in, plus settings to avoid toll roads, give speed camera alerts, avoid traffic jams and get full European map updates for the lifetime of the unit.
Why Did We Choose A Tom Tom GO Camper?
If you prefer a slightly larger screen, the two Garmin models are, however, well worth considering.
Tom Tom GO Camper Features:
- Routing for Motorhome / Camper, Caravan & Car
- Wi-Fi Map & Software Updates – no computer needed
- Points of Interest – parking, fuel, supermarkets, campsites etc
- Live Traffic via built-in SIM (click to see ‘Lifetime’ T&Cs)
- Speed Camera Information (not in France & Switzerland, as it’s illegal)
- Avoid Toll Roads setting and other route options (fastest, shortest etc)
- Lifetime Map Updates (click to see ‘Lifetime’ T&Cs)
- 1-hour Battery Life
- Voice Control
- Additional Features:
- TomTom MyDrive – plan routes, check live traffic & save favourites to the satnav from your smartphone, tablet or PC
- TomTom Road Trips – personalise the world’s best routes, sit back and be guided
- Hands-free calling via Bluetooth
- Smart Phone Messages – read aloud to you via the satnav
- Compatible with Siri & Google Now™
What Do We Like?
- Easy to use – we find the menus simple & more intuitive than Snooper
- Screen graphics are clear – and easy to follow, particularly at junctions
- Finds your location almost immediately – when you turn it on (the Snooper took ages to locate satellites.)
- Live traffic – a real bonus, it displays estimated delays and the choice to re-route
- Speed Limits – are displayed according to the country and the vehicle that you’re driving. We have found this to be mostly accurate, but do not trust it completely.
- Address Finding – quick and simple. Type in any part of an address or postcode & many matching options are quickly presented from the database.
- Points of Interest – including campsites pop up on the right-hand side of the screen as you enter the name of a town.
- Journey Times – the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) is incredibly accurate – to the minute (unlike the Snooper, which was inaccurate to the tune of hours!)
- Additional Features – I don’t know whether it is a pro or a con, but the satnav has a lot of features that we don’t use. Phone texts on the screen? We travel to get away from all that nonsense!
What Don’t We Like?
What don’t we like – er, not much! The satnav has no real down sides and has been reliable and accurate. The TomTom has a 100% record so far on finding destinations and has avoided fields and footpaths. (In fairness to Snooper, several people using various different models of satnav said that Romania posed a sat-navigational challenge, although Snooper did give us a few inaccurate campsite locations in France and Germany too.)
- Screen Size – in my opinion, this is the only possible down side of this satnav, but it is a very minor one. The screen is fine for a vehicle the size of our panel van or a 4×4, but may be a little small for a large, A-Class Motorhome. (The two Garmin caravan satnavs have larger screens if this is an issue*.)
- Voice Activation – is random and comes on when you least expect it. However, our Tom Tom is no longer speaking to us since we told it to shut up! (We can re-activate it but are enjoying the peace.)
- Touch Screen – sometimes needs a few touches, but this is no biggie.
- Displayed Speed Limits – not 100% accurate, so ensure you know the speed limits for the vehicle you are driving and country that you’re in.
- Battery Life – short; about 1h, so limited use for a wander around town (there is a ‘walk’ mode), but fine if it’s plugged in while driving. (Garmin battery life is poorer.)
- Slow Map Updates – some users report that this is slow, but is required infrequently. It is not a problem that we have encountered; the satnav seems to update itself happily via Wi-Fi.
Do I Recommend the Tom Tom GO Camper?
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As with all of my product reviews, I purchased this item with my own money and this article represents my independent and honest opinion.
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