Garmin GPS navigation

We bought a 5-inch Garmin nuvi 1410 GPS device to use in our car, mainly so we could find our way round Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This is what mine looks like…


It came with a suction cup to attach to the windscreen, and a cigarette lighter charging lead – and cost us about £200 from our local Lulu hypermarket. We bought it in December 2009. We registered it online. The unit comes with one free downloadable upgrade to the maps. It really is great to have this unit however the maps are very out of date. The map for Al Ain is about 2 years out of date. We know this because in the centre of town there used to be 3 roundabouts which were replaced by traffic lights about 2 years ago, but these show up on the Garmin as roundabouts still.

Dubai has changed massively road wise in the last 2 years so one of the main motorway routes to the Dubai Mall isn’t on the Garmin map, as are many other roads in Dubai. On many journeys into Dubai the Garmin has been more of a liability than a help and has added sometimes another 15 minutes to the journey as the route has constantly recalculated itself as we went on to roads which don’t exist on the map. Eventually we do get the destination but the route is a little long winded.

One more thing, I recently needed to renew my passport and my eldest son’s passport. The website for the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi gave the address for the embassy, but when I entered this address into the Garmin, the device couldn’t find the road name. Then I noticed that the map on the Embassy’s webpage with the address on it had a different spelling for the road name, it being an Arabic name. When I put *this* address into the Garmin, the device found the road name and was able to navigate me safely to it.

Finally… I took the Garmin back with me to the UK in July 2010 and was able to download the UK road map into it for a cost of about £36. If you go to the site, it may quote you $99, but if you add the map to the shopping cart, then go to the checkout, you’ll see that the price has been changed to £36. Downloading is not brain-dead simple: for some reason I remember having to download the map twice to get it to work on the Garmin, so be careful to follow the instructions carefully.

My family and I travelled between Scotland and England. The Garmin treats these as 2 countries, so if you’re driving in England and you try to enter a new destination in Scotland then the Garmin says it can’t find that place. So what you have to do is change the country to Scotland on the main menu (easy to do) then enter the destination again, and you will get route instructions.

Remember to switch from kilometers to miles from the Settings menu, otherwise the Garmin will show you the speed limit for each road you’re on in kilometers per hour which looks weird.

Update: if you want to tell people where you live so they can drive to your home, simply select the GPS map coordinates icon on the main screen to see the map reference, then text or email this to people – or put it on a printed map. Then people can tap this into their satnav device and get directed to it.

Note: there are a number of ways to convey the final part of a map reference: in decimal or as ‘minutes/seconds’ – check you get this right: I didn’t understand this when I was was trying to get to a new friend’s house recently. He gave me a map with map reference in minutes/seconds whereas my Gamin defaulted to decimals, so I put his numbers in as decimals and ended up 150 metres from his home, on a different street! My friend explained what I’d done wrong when I eventually found his home.

Further update: I would recommend that you don’t buy a dedicated GPS like this: the maps will be out of date. Instead, if you have an iPhone or an Android phone, buy the TomTom app for the region: this comes with free updates for life. (If you buy a dedicated unit, you will be paying about $99 for every map update!)

What’s more, with the TomTom app, if someone emails you a photo of their home or a tourist attraction, if you copy that to your phone, you can tell TomTom to navigate to the photo!


If the photo was taken with a smartphone or a digital camera with GPS built-in, the location of the shop is stored in the jpg image – so TomTom can help you get there!

If you don’t have an iPhone or Android phone, I highly recommend you buy one: you’ll be amazed how useful it will be!

One Reply to “Garmin GPS navigation”

  1. […] you have a Garmin satellite navigation device, or the Tom-Tom app on your iPhone, enter N 25°30′ E56°21′ to be directed to Al Aqah […]

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