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Why do I need GPS route navigation?

Are you going on self-guided walking or cycling trip and want to make sure you find your way? We have introduced GPS Route Navigation, so you can track your route from start to finish.

Having recently returned from her first solo self-guided walking trip, Ali from the product team could not recommend GPX files highly enough for anyone going on a self-guided trip. Here she explains what they are and why they are perfect for walking and cycling.

For all our self-guided trips we provide paper maps and walking route notes to help you navigate your way easily from one night stop to the next. However, with the increasing ownership of GPS navigational aids such as Garmin and smartphone apps, making route maps available for our customers in a digital format was the next logical step. GPX files for your Android, iOS smartphone or GPS device are now available on nearly all our self-guided cycling and walking trips.

What are GPX files?

GPX files (GPS Exchange Format) are a list of precise locations that form a route for walking or cycling. When placed over a map, they act as a marked-out route using turn-by-turn navigation to direct you. Put simply, this is a line drawn on a map in an electronic format. Just like a sat nav in your car, you can see your own location in relation to the route using GPS and make sure that you’re still on-track.

What is GPS?

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a satellite-based radio navigation system, providing geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver (such as your phone or sat nav) anywhere on the planet. Since the invention of GPS, detailed mapping apps have been developed enabling individuals to use this technology to create new routes, as well as follow their progress along existing ones.

What are the benefits of using GPX files?

Technology is making our lives so much easier in many ways. Paper maps give a sense of achievement after successful navigation, and our route notes take away the challenge of deciphering directions. However using navigation apps with GPX files gives you the reassurance of knowing your exact location and making sure you are on the right trail. The other benefit, if it’s not your main navigation tool, is that if you have gone off-track, you can redirect yourself back to the path.

What software do I need to view GPX files?

GPX files (or digital routes) can be viewed in a GPS device or on a smartphone by downloading GPS navigation apps like ViewRanger (among many others). The best part is that the navigation works offline anywhere in the world, without phone or data coverage. All you have to do is download the map you need to your phone before you go.

How do I get my GPX files?

Once you’ve booked your trip, you can email self-guided@explore.co.uk or call us on 01252 884903 to request the files. We then email them to you.

What do I do next?

  1. Download an app like ViewRanger or for other available options type in “GPS navigation apps”.
  2. Save the GPX files to your device/phone.
  3. Upload the GPX files to the app. You will then be able to view them from your device/phone.
  4. Check that you’ve saved the files to your device to be able to view them offline. This is all relatively easy to do, and there are lots of tutorials on YouTube if you get stuck.
  5. Download the maps you need to your device. It’s best to do this before you leave for your trip and put your phone in airplane mode to test it once you have uploaded the files.
  6. We send out paper documents for all bookings but why not request a digital copy too and give this a try on your next Explore self-guided adventure?

Discover where you can travel to next on our self-guided trips. explore.co.uk/experiences/self-guided-holidays

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