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Prepper tip: Know how to use Garmin intersection search

This is a feature of every Garmin nuvi and Drive model (DriveSmart, DriveAssist, etc.). You've probably never used it. But if the GPS signal cuts out and doesn't work, or the GPS grid ever fails, this will come in very handy and get you where you need to go.

What you will need to know are three things. How to put the GPS into simulation mode, knowing what state you are in, and how to perform an intersection search. (This should work in other countries but I'm in the USA.)

Before getting into that, a question answered:

What's the point of knowing this?

Example situation: You're driving around somewhere unfamiliar, and the GPS signal cuts out. You don't know why. It just stopped working. The Garmin itself still runs fine, but it's getting no signal whatsoever. Something happened and you can't get a signal back. You grab your phone to use its navigation. Same problem. No GPS signal. Uh-oh. Now you're lost...

...except you're not. With intersection search, all you need to do is find where two roads meet, read the street names, and that info is enough to get you directions from where you are.

If that doesn't make sense, it will in a moment.

Let's try this out

Putting a Garmin GPS into simulation mode is easy to do as it is just one checkbox. The menu option is called "GPS Simulator". You can locate where it is via Tools or Settings. From there, it will usually be located under the submenu System or Navigation. When checked, the GPS antenna is turned off. When unchecked, the GPS antenna is on. Simple enough to understand.

Intersections (which is the intersection search) will either be on the Where To? screen or from Categories on most Garmin models. If it's on the Categories screen, you may have to scroll down quite a bit to find it, but it's there.

It will look something like this:

If you have checked GPS Simulator and have found where Intersections is, you're ready for the next step.

Step 1: Touch Intersections and choose your state. It will look something like this:

You may see more than one state listed. Choose the state you are in. If you do not see the state you are in, click the button at bottom to type out the state where you are and select it, then proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Enter street 1 and street 2 to find the intersection in the Garmin.

The way this works were it used in a real life situation is to drive until you find an intersection where you can read both street names. Find the nearest safe place next to that intersection and park.

Enter the first street into the Garmin, then enter the second street. Most of the time you don't even need the full street name. For example, within Florida I simply entered Calder for the first street and Busch for the second street, and the Garmin found it:

If the intersection is found, touch the information icon (you can see this above, it's either labeled as a letter i in a circle, or the word "info").

On the next screen, touch "Set Location" to instruct the Garmin that yes, this is the intersection where you are right now:

Once you do this, you can then go to your Favorites or Saved locations and get directions - BUT - when you choose a location you want to navigate to, there are still a few more steps to take. Don't worry, this is easy.

When you choose a location you want to navigate to, the Garmin will ask if you want to simulate driving the route. Choose NO. After that, on the map, touch the top bar on the map screen (it's usually green) and you will be presented with a list of directions. This will be a list you can scroll up and down...

...and that's what you use to get wherever you're going. The GPS won't give you turn-by-turn instructions since there is no GPS signal, but you will have a list of directions from the intersection where you are to the destination.

This is basically the same as if you printed out directions on paper, except it's on the Garmin's screen.

If when following the directions you get lost again, not a problem. Just find another intersection and repeat the instructions above.

A few more questions answered

"Wouldn't it just be easier to know the address of where you are and use that as the starting point instead?"

Yes, of course it would. But if you're in unfamiliar territory and need to stop somewhere to get the address of a place, getting the info isn't exactly easy. Stop at any gas station and ask the clerk what the address of the store is. He won't know.

With intersections, the info you need is printed directly on the signs. Much easier.

"What if I'm on the interstate? What then?"

There are obviously no intersections there, so you have to exit the interstate highway and find one so you can get the info you need and punch that into the Garmin.

"What if the intersection isn't found in the Garmin?"

This usually only happens with highway roads, as in roads that are highways but not interstates that go by name or highway number. In this instance, find an intersection in a residential area instead where the streets are names-only, and that should be found in the Garmin map database easily.

"Should I cross reference the Garmin directions with a road atlas?"

While you should always carry a road atlas in your car, cross referencing one wouldn't help much, if at all.

Let's say you have to go get a thing, and that thing is located in a place about a half-hour away. It's a place you've never been to before. You go there, get the thing, and on the way back home, that's when the navigation stops working. At that point, you figure you're only a half-hour away, so surely you can find your way back. Nope. All these roads are unfamiliar and you end up going the wrong way... which of course you won't realize until driving that wrong way for 20 minutes.

A road atlas won't help you here. What you need is a set of directions that says "Go that way". Find an intersection, get your directions, and then you're good.

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