Satellite navigation is a fabulous invention which few of us would be without. Unfortunately, the ease with which it guides us to our destinations has turned sat nav into something of a crutch. Think about it – you simply get into your car, pop in a postcode and then spend the entire journey following spoken instructions and glancing at real-time, graphical guidance. It’s almost too easy.

So, what happens when the sat nav in your car dies or refuses to display a route? What if the battery in your TomTom runs out and won’t charge? You’ll be completely, utterly stuck – unless you take these precautions!

Take a map with you (a real one!)

Boo! So old-fashioned, right? Wrong!


Paper-based maps have been used for centuries for one very good reason: they work. A printed map doesn’t need to be rebooted, won’t refuse to work without battery power and is always immediately accessible Make sure you have an up-to-date map of the entire country nestled in your glove box.

Do your homework

The more time you spend planning your journey, the more it will work its way into your subconscious. Even if you know you’ll be using your sat nav for the journey, spend the night before reviewing the route you’ll take on Google Maps. Take a look at Street View at key stages and make a note of the main roads you’ll be using (in order of use). 

Print out directions

Using a tool like Google Maps, print out their written instructions for your route.

Alongside your old-fashioned map, they may come in handy and are almost as good as satellite navigation.

 Ensure at least one other person knows the route

Unless you’re travelling alone, make sure at least one other passenger has spent some of the research time with you.


Give them a copy of the directions and make sure they have the map within easy reach. Two heads are certainly better than one when you get lost on the road without digital guidance. 

Download maps to your phone on the Google Maps app

Let’s say your car sat nav has given up the ghost and you’re in a poor mobile phone network signal area. What to do? Thankfully, there’s a good chance you have a an alternative in your bag or pocket. Your smartphone should have GPS within, and if you install Google Maps, you’ll have a free app that has a neat hidden feature. Google Maps on Android and iOS allows you to download specific areas to the device so that you can access routes and directions when you don’t have an internet connection. It might be a lifesaver. 

Have the destination contact handy

If you get lost and don’t have any of the above to hand, your last port of call should be someone at the destination.


Make sure you have their contact number to hand so that you can give them a call and politely ask how to complete the rest of your journey. 

And finally… Turn on traffic reports!

Most sat navs include some form of traffic reporting or automated re-routing based on traffic conditions. However, when your sat nav breaks, you lose that awesome ability to avoid hold-ups. With your backup route guidance techniques in place, make sure you remember to turn on the traffic reports, too. Most car radios will allow you to do so, and will automatically tune into the latest news on hold-ups when they’re broadcast.

Happy motoring! Just don’t rely too heavily on your sat nav from now on!