Friday, June 2, 2023


Do you carry a map or road atlas with you where you’re traveling?

Our phones and GPS devices are great for finding our way around the country. But what happens when they fail, or we’re somewhere without connectivity? It does happen.

reading mapIn days gone by, most of us carried folding paper maps or a road atlas (if you are of a considerably advanced age you likely remember the free maps available at gas stations), and we used them to plot our routes and find out where we were when we got lost. Do you still carry a printed map or road atlas? Let’s find out.

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Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


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Tim Butterfield
4 years ago

I believe in redundancy also, though this no longer requires paper as it once did. In addition to the GPS, there are multiple iPads and smart phones with us. Many digital maps such as Google Maps offer an offline storage feature. If you keep this cache updated, you can look at the map even when the cell signal disappears. The primary means of keeping the devices charged is the vehicle itself, though there are multiple USB battery packs also. If none of these are working, it is not likely a paper map will be of much use at that moment either.

Melanie Kite
4 years ago

After living and traveling in rural areas, and on the west coast, I am a firm believer in redundancy. Too many times the signals get dropped, so a map, including a gazetteer or atlas, have helped us out. I also agree about seeing the larger view.

4 years ago

I have maps, atlas and gps and sometimes still make a wrong turn.

Jeffrey Torsrud
4 years ago

Some People (like my Wife) can’t read a PAPER MAP To save her life.

4 years ago

I prefer paper maps so I can get the big picture, and possibly detour to another, more interesting-looking location.

Your polls don’t load on my computer, using Vivaldi browser.

4 years ago

After our GPS lead us down a treacherous gravel road and thru shallow streams, I do not allow my husband to always follow GPS directions. We check the GPS’s recommended route against a trucker’s road atlas. If my husband wants to keep enjoying America by road together, we follow the road atlas and adjust the GPS. If he wants to go off-road again with our 40ft 5th wheel, he’ll be on his own.

4 years ago

I carry an atlas, but don’t use it often. If my online maps or GPS leave me wondering, out it comes. I replace it every couple of years but it’s been about 4 years since I needed to use it.

4 years ago

Do young people know what a map or atlas are? Can they use them?

steve roland
4 years ago

There are many online (for research and planning) and instant (for traffic) resources now that paper docs can’t compare to. This audience is very slanted to an old school definition. I too am old school, but current online, or cached, resources can’t be beat by outdated (even current year) paper docs.

Rory Roberts
4 years ago
Reply to  steve roland

I use an RV GPS system and I keep a road atlas (purchased new every year, why, you can always be in an area where wifi is non-existant and my fairly up to date road atlas becomes very handy. I’m 73, a retired IT project Mgr and very tech savvy. And even the most up to date GPS can be wrong, I have found that out the hard way, so I keep my backup and consult it…….

4 years ago

Maps and GPS in both tow car and in motorhome. Use both on a regular basis.

4 years ago

We use paper maps to look a day or so ahead to look for the “little gem” local places that GPS overlooks. It’s nice to get the “big picture” from a paper map then travel with GPS and my navigator follows with google maps.

Doug Warnecke
4 years ago

I love my Rand Mc RV GPS – BUT (always a but!). It tried to send me down a road which had been flooded for some years by a rising lake! So, a back-up and a plan are always better than relying on one electronic device from space! We have paper maps and the co-pilot is reviewing enroute if we change plans. An Atlas is easy to handle compared to the infernal folded state maps – but the print seems to be getting smaller every day! Keep on sleddin’

Vicki Richards
4 years ago

I’m old-school. A GPS is handy in many ways these days, but I find my Rand McNally, laminated, Trucker’s Atlas to be indispensable for looking up low overpasses and spontaneously finding unusual points of interest without having to open my iPad, iPhone or laptop. If I find something intriguing, I might go to Google Earth to see if there is adequate parking for my rolling home.

Charlotte Lloyd
4 years ago

Don’t have GPS and no plans to buy it. I use paper maps. If I need detail/close in I google the address and print it out. I know too many RVers that used GPS ending up at dead end roads. They built a freezer storage behind us. Can’t tell you in the two years it has been open how many truckers end up on the single lane dead end road behind the park because their GPS tells them to turn.

Kathy Engell
4 years ago

A better question is “Do you use a paper map when traveling ?” We always have a atlas in case we are out of cell service. Seldom use the paper map.

John Crawford
4 years ago
Reply to  Kathy Engell

Poorly phrased question, you ask a “and or” question for a “yes no” answer.

4 years ago

I like to stop at welcome centers and pick up free state maps. More current than a 3 or 4 year old atlas. I have a file box I keep them in and can pull out an old one and keep the newest one. I can pick up info on attractions also. Welcome centers in towns also give out detailed maps of the area.

4 years ago

In addition to relying heavily on a dash mounted Garmin GPS, and my wife’s iPhone maps:

I carry a Trucker’s atlas in the back seat. More importantly, I print maps of our route from Google Maps, or MapQuest.
• An overview map of each day’s travels
• A closeup map of the approach to the campground.
• A map of the campground sites if available
• A closeup map of any potentially problematic segments of the trip. e.g., options around a large city in case traffic is backed up. Any complicated highway changes, etc.
• An official state highway map (from Visitor centers–if available) for each state on the trip. Sometimes the extra detail is important.

It’s amazing the difference in the routes proposed by: Google Maps, MapQuest, Garmin, and the iPhone.

4 years ago

I print off directions and map using Mapquest or Google Maps, with a GPS. Many times , I’m suspicious of the GPS, and will go by my printed directions.

4 years ago

As a former long-haul trucker I relied on the Trucker’s Atlas for pre-planning a route. Nothing beats a good atlas or paper map for the necessary overview, and for finding alternate work-arounds when plans go to hell. Our dashboard GPS is useful, but it has an idiot for brains. Blind trust leads to big trouble. Another atlas-habit was to jot intersections, turns, and routes on a slip of paper, and mount that with a suction-cup clip to my side window for instant reference. It was a simple but very effective guide, without distraction from the road ahead.

Jeffrey Torsrud
4 years ago
Reply to  Graybyrd

Hi Graybryd, use to drive OTR for many years and yes I have a GPS, but also rely on my RAND McNally Trucker Atlas.

A must have. GPS’s are not always accurate and if not updated on a yearly basis, will get you lost!

Old Prospector
4 years ago
Reply to  Graybyrd

@Graybyrd. – I’m also a retired OTR driver. – Also, during my 23 year Military career, the Military taught me how to read paper maps. – Since then, I have always used a paper map or a Trucker’s Atlas. – Over the years, I’ve seen, heard, and/or heard of, too many Hair-Raising tales of Woe by both Truckers, and 4-wheeler drivers pertaining to the use of GPS devices. – Never trusted them in the past, I still do not trust them now, nor will I ever trust those GPS Devices. I’ll take an actual map any day of the week.

Billy Bob Thorton
4 years ago

Of course you should have an atlas. This whole baloney about the GPS is the end all is nonsense. If you can’t appreciate the view from 10,000 ft. up, your not a true navigator.

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