Having a reliable GPS Unit while traveling seems old fashioned these days because of our cell phones. However, they can save you a lot of money and frustration because a GPS unit does not need an expensive mobile phone data plan or wifi signal. You just need to have the right maps, turn it on, switch to the right map and it just works. This is why I always bring my old and reliable Garmin GPS unit when I travel. Read on to see why I purchased a Garmin GPS and how I learned to switch the maps on my Garmin Nuvi GPS.
Learning how to switch maps on Garmin is a crucial step to do before your trip to Europe.
Why did I buy a Garmin GPS?
Printing my driving directions from the internet was always very easy and more than enough for me…until recently. We recently had to plan for a long trip to Europe and driving in several foreign countries was scary enough, so having a GPS with me helped ease my anxiety a lot. The need for a GPS system became very clear and as a result I purchased a reliable Garmin GPS unit. I really like the Garmin systems because they work well everywhere and they are inexpensive. That being said…I got lost one time in Italy as well…but we found our way soon enough after asking around. Other than that our Garmin has worked perfectly.
When traveling to foreign countries, having a GPS system is the best solution when compared to printing directions or using your cell phone…simply because you still can’t rely on finding a good and affordable Internet connection.
When looking purchased my GPS unit, my purpose was simple. I wanted a GPS system that works both in Europe and California for driving everywhere.
This way I can have two maps on my Garmin GPS. Perfect! My inexpensive and reliable Garmin GPS unit made my life so much easier while in Europe.
Why would you ever want to switch maps on your Garmin GPS?
It’s true that the Garmin GPS supports multiple maps, but the internal memory that it ships with is not enough to hold two maps. So I had to buy an extra 4Gb mini SD card and store the Garmin Europe map on it. This way I can have both maps installed at the same time.
But when I came back home, I could not figure out how to switch maps back to the US Map. I knew I had done it before, but could not remember.
So, I tried all the combinations of the settings until I finally found it buried way deep in the “Tool” menu.
How do you switch maps on your Garmin GPS?
To change maps on Garmin GPS is simple if you know what buttons to press. Here are the steps you need to perform to switch your current map:
- Access the Tools Menu
- Access the Settings Menu
- Access the Maps sub-category
- Press the Info button at the bottom of the screen. This was the tricky one I couldn’t remember. You should see two maps…or more depending on what you have installed.
- Select the map you want by checking the respective check box.
While abroad it’s also very important to know how to change countries on your Garmin GPS especially if you are traveling to multiple countries. Another great feature of Garmin GPS units is saving favorite locations before starting your trip. This is a big time and frustration saver.
In order to make sure you can charge your Garmin GPS unit (and other devices) you have to have the right plug adapters.
Read more about making sure your electronic devices function properly in Europe.
Best Resources for Your Garmin GPS
Get the official Garmin Europe map on an SD card and save $20. Just pop it into your Garmin Device and you’re ready to go. Getting the map on an SD card is the best way to go as it saves you the time to download and install it yourself. This map is compatible with most Garmin devices from older Nuvi models to the newest Drive models.
If you are looking to buy a GPS unit so you don’t depend on any Wi-Fi or data plan while traveling, take a look at this reliable & inexpensive Garmin GPS unit. Make sure you also buy the European map as the unit comes only with the US map pre-installed.
If you don’t have time to order your maps on the SD card and already have a Garmin GPS unit, download Garmin Express software to update your unit’s software, purchase and install maps directly from Garmin.
Get the right plug adapter for Europe or England. Durable, dual input plug adapters that work with grounded and non-grounded plugs.
- How to switch maps on Garmin GPS System
- How to change countries on Garming GPS System
- Planning your trip with Garmin GPS Favorites
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It’s very easy to switch maps on your Garmin Device. You can do it through your Garmin GPS device by going to settings and then clicking on maps. There, under the info section, you will be able to see a list of all the maps you have installed. You can choose the one you want to use by checking the box for that one and it’s done. In case, you are facing any other issue with Garmin GPS or the GPS device itself, you should refer to this guide.
One question, after copying the maps device ask to “Choose place/country” and I can’t find Dominican Republic in a list it gives me. This same DR maps works well on hundred of devices… So, I can’t do nothing without choosing a country…
John…provided you have the correct Garmin map which includes Dominican Republic…it should show up. However, looking at the City Navigator page from Garmin, I can’t seem to find any map that contains Dominican Republic. So maybe it is not covered by Garmin at all.
We bought the Canadian map to add on our Garmin Navi, and it seemed to be working perfectly. However, when we got to Canada, it couldn’t figure out where we were—had us about 500 ft off the road. It kept telling us to go to the route, and wouldn’t give us directions because we weren’t on the route in its little cyber mind. Any clues about this?
Pat…it’s difficult to know exactly what happens. Here are some possible clues: the map you are using might be outdated and the road has actually changed, especially in areas with lots of construction (I had this happen in England with a 4 years old map). Another possibility is that there is not enough satellite coverage to give the GPS unit the required precision. You can find the precision by holding your finger pressed on the top left corner for a few seconds, until you see the satellites it picks up…it will also give you the precision it’s working with. Hope this helps.
I had this in Europe, I wasn’t aware you had to change country so it’s likely just that…. it vaguely showed the roads but seemed confused and no directions… I even have to change country between England and Wales… :)
It is possible to use Garmin Express to reinstall a map region or change the map coverage loaded to an Automotive device.
Shaun…I think it is possible. Just download Garmin Express and connect your Garmin GPS unit. Garmin Express will detect the type and serial number. Depending on what maps it came with originally, you might be able to restore the original maps.
Thanks for giving the information about – How to switch maps on Garmin GPS system, I have applied these step at my Garmin devices. Now my Garmin maps are working fine.
An amazingly knowledgeable article. Thank you Vlad.
Yes mine has the slot as well, I bought the UK maps already installed on a mini SD card, and it worked a treat in the UK and the republic of Ireland
Rod…good to hear that it just worked as expected.
There is a Smartphone app that doesn’t use cellular data called “Here We Go”, by Nokia,
It’s free, and the way to use it is get the app installed (I downloaded mine on Apple app store) and once installed, before you leave home, use the apps feature to download over wi-fi the maps for your destination region or whole country. The maps and app are free. The maps can be large so you need space on your Smartphone.
They will use the GPS feature of the Smartphone, which relies on a satellite signal, to position on the fully downloaded map your location, etc. The free maps are quite detailed.
This will also work on an iPad, as long as it is the model that has optional cellular data. It uses the GPS in that model of iPad.
Harold….yes, I use HereWeGo maps as well when I don’t have cell phone signal in California. Another app is Maps.me which uses open source maps…also free. They both only need the GPS sensor on your phone which doesn’t need service. They work ok, but while abroad I always use my trusted Garmin. Not sure how sustainable are these free products for the long term.
Hi I have a Garmin Drive assist 50 with Australian maps pre loaded.
It also has a 4gb micro sd card installed for recording driving/traffic incidents video from the built in camera.
I’m looking to purchase UK maps from the Garmin website for $99 and was wondering should I purchase these as a download to the internal memory card or if I purchased them on an sd card and inserted this into the memory card slot whether this would not allow the inbuilt camera to record.
Dennis…the first thing to do is to install Garmin Express and connect your Garmin Drive device to your computer. The Garmin Express software will find out how much space you have and you can download the UK map to it after purchasing it. It really depends on how big the UK map is but I am guessing that it can fit along with your Australian map. That way you can keep the recording on the extra chip. Take a look here: https://www.garmin.com/en-AU/maps/updates/?/automotive
You mentioed in your article, that you had to buy an extra 4Gb memory stick and store the Europe map on it. This way I can have both maps installed at the same time. How did you connect your 4Gb memory stick to the Garmin Gps
Rod…my older Garmin Nuvi has a slot for a mini SD card on the top left corner. That’s how I connected it. I am not sure if your model has this slot.
At the Garmin website you can buy the maps either 1. for download or 2. sent to you already installed on a Micro SD card. Having just tired the former, I suggest the latter.
It took me many tries and several days before I got a clean download. And each download took hours. And I had to buy the Micro SD card.
Delivery time for the card with the map already on it is not swift, maybe quicker from Amazon than from Garmin. But next time that’s the way to go.
By the way, do not forget to register your Garmin unit and supplemental maps with Garmin – that way you will have lifetime free map updates.
Gary…thank you for your suggestions! I downloaded from the Garmin site and it was not slow…but I do have a fast internet connection.
Vlad.. I have lost my memory card. I bought new one but I don’t know how to install map on it.
Most Garmin units have a mini SD card slot on the top right edge of the unit. Press on the empty plastic place holder and the holder will pop out. Take it out completely and insert your card with the map on it. Restart your Garmin and now you should be able to switch to the new map.
Yes mine has the slot as well, I bought the UK maps already installed on a mini SD card, and it worked a treat in the UK and the republic of Ireland
Had my Garmin 760lmt stolen. I have bought a secondhand one on ebay to replace it. The lm are for North America. Can i change this to UK please?
Andy…you can go to the Garmin website and buy maps for the U.K. only for your GPS model. Garmin has a little application for your PC or MAC that allows you to upload any map to your device. Then switch the map to the UK map you have installed.
I bought a garmin nuvi 55. But did not read that it did not include Canadian street maps.
I also would like to buy Australian city and street maps as well, I am visiting Australia, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney etc.
Can I buy them somewhere?
Harry…you can buy them on the Garmin website
Do you know if you can locate addresses in the foreign map before you get to the country? I would like to add my stops to my “favorites” in the device and have them ready to go. I’m not having much luck.
Nevermind. Garmin support was able to help me. The map had not loaded properly and that is why I could not create favorites on the international map.
Julie…good job! Yes you can save address to favorites. I do it all the time before my trips.
Can I buy a Garmin device in Singapore and then use it in New Zealand?
How do I load New Zealand’s map into my Garmine device?
Tom… yes you can buy a Garmin device anywhere, buy the he maps you need from the Garmin website, install it and then use it in any of her country. So in your case you buy the New Zealand map and use it.
Life saver! Thanks so much for sharing this info. I was at a loss of how to access my Australia and NZ maps – recently purchased. Got it now thanks for this info!
Clare…you’re welcome! It took me a while to figure it out so I thought it might help others.
I recently purchased SD card with directions for Ireland. It does not come up when inserted. I went into the options and unselected the American maps but still nothing. Do I have to be in Europe before it will load?
Karen…it should come up once you selected the Ireland map. Do you mean the screen is blank? If not, just try entering an address in Ireland and see if it finds it. Just a suggestion….you can also try the Garmin support Web page.
I bought a Garmin (not sure about the model) in LA and brought back to Australia to use in December 2014. Unfortunately, up the this moment I could not get the GPS to work to change to Australia map. I thought it has already downloaded the maps around the world like my old one Navman GPS. I would be grateful if you could guide me how to change the country.
Becky…if you bought your Garmin at a US store it will most likely have only the US Street map. If that is the case, then you need to purchase the Australian Street map from the Garmin website and then you can switch the maps using my instructions.
I am looking at the Garmin nuvi 40LM and I have a question whether there are only certain models which allow maps from other countries to be downloaded. Hoping you can help me!
Elizabeth…good question! As far as I know Garmin does not limit the devices that support their maps. In other words, any Garmin map will work on any Garmin device. The only limitation I found was the size of the internal memory…this is why I purchased a mini SD card for extra storage. I have the USA map on the internal memory and the map of Europe on the SD card.
The map information at Garmin.com currently states that the new maps will not work in the StreetPilot models. Th the best of my knowledge they will work on all others. You can purchase maps already on an SD card and simply insert it into the SD slot on the device. This way is much easier and you do not have to buy a blank SD card.
I have a garmin and want to be able to travel in Ireland with it. How do I get maps of Ireland on it? Is it going to cost me money? Would I be better off getting a gps when I rent the car?
Diane…your Garmin will work fine in Ireland. You just need to buy the Map for it. Garmin sells the map of Europe for 99$ last I checked. Go to the Garmin site and click on maps and buy the Europe map. If you want to have both the US and Europe map on the device you need to buy an extra 4gb micro sd card.
Once you install the map use my instructions on how to switch the map.
Also…when you arrive in Ireland and switch your Garmin on…be patient…it can take a while for it to find satellites and get its bearings. Just give it at least 5 minutes or so.
The cost will depend on how long you will rent the GPS for. Typical rentals in Europe start at 12.00 per day and go up from there. You may also have a drop charge if you do not return it to the same place you rented it. It is true that the Europe Maps MSRP is $99.00 but there are also regional maps available at lower prices. The regional maps MSRP are $69.99.
The guy forgot to mention what program he uses and since obviously has a computer, why store the map on a memory stick.
George….yes I do have a computer but I want both maps on the Garmin. I store both the Europe map and the US map on my Garmin because I do not want to have to remember where I have my maps on my computer. I want both maps on the Garmin…this is why I purchased a memory card
Just bought the memory card from Garmin thru Amazon. Put the microsd into back of my nuvi 66. Navigated to My Maps by going in to settings, maps and devices and it loaded with a check mark. Also I have the North American maps preload with a check mark. I can’t use until i get to scotland. So I guess when arrive there I uncheck the NorthAmerica map so the gps will use the Scotland maps? Correct?
Pete…yes, this is what I do.