Using Google Maps as Sat Nav Abroad

When we were planning our trip to Mauritius we realised that as we would be outside of the EU we wouldn’t have ‘Roam Like You’re At Home’ data, allowing us to use our phones for the internet when out and about. This meant we couldn’t use Google Maps for sat nav and hiring a local sat nav with the car hire would cost a minimum of £50. So what could we do?

We looked at buying a Mauritius map for our current sat nav which also cost around £50 and all apps with Mauritian maps on them would need us to have working mobile phone services in Mauritius. But, we found a solution.

Did you know you can use Google Maps offline? Well, neither did I. So I thought I would share how you can use Google Maps for navigation to save yourself any overseas sat nav costs in the future.

If you use Google Maps navigation on your smartphone or tablet you don’t need any other GPS navigation apps or sat nav apps. You can literally use Google Maps, on Apple, Android or other devices to give you driving directions for free, with no cost per month.

How to use Google Maps as Sat Nav Abroad for Free

On your phone get the Google Maps app and once installed find your destination country on the map. Make the whole area visible on one screen – even if it ends up being really small.

Click the three lines to open up the menu and select Offline Maps and then Custom Map. You’ll be shown your map screen and asked if you want to download that map. Make sure the whole area is within the box and select download at the bottom.

The map will then download to your device – and this will work on most phones, tablets and other portable devices. Once downloaded the map will be available on your device even when you don’t have data or a phone signal and all map data will be available apart from live data like traffic information.

Everything you love about Google Maps is then available offline. You can use it to direct you to a place with audible commands like an actual Sat Nav, you can find places of interest and see how far somewhere is from where you are. It is just so handy! You can simply open Google Maps and off you go!

During our trip to Mauritius we were able to seek out local attractions and navigate to them, find alternative routes and plan our day using the Google Maps app whilst being offline and having roaming data turned off. We did same when driving to the Alps to go skiing, mainly because there’s places with not signal in the mountains, but it’s even more relevant since Brexit because carriers are charging for data roaming in the EU again.

I hope this helps when you’re next planning a holiday abroad.

Using Google Maps as Sat Nav Abroad


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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