GPS and Navigation
Navigation was one of the most crucial parts of my trip. In fact, I was trying to find my way on almost every crossroads. At first I thought I would only need a decent GPS device and make sure I have some reliable tracks. The only thing I would have to do was to follow the arrow on the screen, or so I thought. Turned out getting the gps-tracks was a lot more difficult then expected. I decided to buy some 1:150 000 maps to get an overview of the area I would be walking.
During the walk, I decided to buy hiking maps (1:50 000) of the areas I was going through. Finding a route just with the use of a GPS was horrible since it just does not provided the overview I needed to find my way. The problem with walking on maps of this scale is that you walk of them quite fast. Finding maps which covered my route was a time consuming activity, but let to many insights about how to continue. Most of the times in Germany and Austria, I would just walk into a major bookstore and find the map section. I would spend an hour or two trying to find maps and figuring out the route I would take the coming days. It gave me great fun to find my route this way. It is impossible to prepare this long a hike all in advance, and really useless to try to buy all the maps before you leave.
In Hungary I walked on a 1:100 000 road map of the country. The quality or availability of maps decreased as I went east, which made the GPS way more useful. Especially on bike, when I had to stick to roads, the gps was a valuable way of navigation and became my only source of navigation and orientation from Croatia on.
I had both the OSM of the part of Europe I was trekking through as well as the recreational map from Garmin on my device. I used them both a lot and would advice anyone to download at least two maps of the same area on the device. Garmin does not cover Serbia and Turkey in a way I would have liked. OSM is less reliable but more detailed. Sometimes even too detailed for my liking.
Taking gps-tracks from the internet is not without any risk, as I experienced myself. Even tracks send to me by their authors postulated water crossings where it was impossible to cross, leaving me to walk all the way back. Downloading from the internet is even more risk full since you never know if the routes are actually traveled or just drawn on the computer. Make sure to do you research to the origin of the track!