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Offset Starting Locations


GPS devices are great at allowing you to plan your route from wherever you currently are. However sometimes you want to plan or preview a route which starts at a different location from where you are right now. So how do you plan a route on your GPS that starts somewhere else? Obviously it depends on the GPS device you are using, but here is how you can do it on some popular lines.

Why would you want to do this? Let’s say I’m leaving home today, going to the airport, and flying across the country. I’d like to know right now how far it is from the destination airport to my hotel. I’d also like to get a quick preview of the route so I’ll have to rely on the GPS a little less during the drive.


Most TomTom devices offer this as a feature. It is called ‘Advanced Planning’ or ‘Prepare Route’ depending on the model. From the Main Menu, select either ‘Prepare route’ or ‘Advanced Planning’. A ‘Depart from’ screen will appear asking for the location you want to start from. After selecting the starting location, the TomTom will ask for a destination. Pretty simple.


Garmin GPS SimulatorMany Garmin devices don’t offer that feature out of the box, however you can make it work with a little effort, and tricking the device through the GPS Simulator. The menu procedure will differ a little bit on different models, but the concept is the same. The first thing you need to do is to put your GPS into Simulation mode. Click on Tools (or the wrench icon) -> Settings -> System -> GPS Simulator -> On. Now click ‘OK’ then click and hold down on the ‘Back’ button to take you to the Main Menu. (Note that for the Nuvi 300 and 600 series devices you can go into Simulation mode by not flipping up the GPS antenna.)

Garmin Simulation Mode VerifyYou can verify your GPS is in Simulation Mode by looking at the satellite reception icon in the upper left of the Main Menu, it should have a red X covering it. Next, you need to set the starting location. You do this by selecting the location as if you were going to navigate there, but stop at the point where you would have otherwise clicked the big Green ‘Go!’ button.

Garmin Find Locations NearIn my example I’d click ‘Where to?’ -> ‘Near…’ (on the bottom bar) -> ‘A Different City’ -> “Las Vegas” -> Done -> ‘Las Vegas, NV’ -> ‘Points of Interest’ -> ‘Transit’ -> ‘Air Transportation’ -> ‘McCarran Int’l Airport.

Garmin Show MapInstead of clicking ‘Go!’ as you typically would with a destination, resist the urge and select ‘Show Map’ instead. This will bring up a 2D map showing the location you have picked, which will ultimately be the start of the route.

Garmin Set LocationNow that you have found your starting location, you need to tell your GPS that this is where you currently are. (Remember that you have turned off the GPS chipset and put the GPS into “simulation” mode. To tell it this is your current location, click the ‘Set Loc’ button in the lower right.

Garmin Simulate RouteNow you have set your starting location. From here on, all of your routes will be planned from this location instead of your actual current location. In my example I’d search for Hotels near me, and find my hotel in the list by name. After selecting my hotel I’d click on ‘Go!’ as usual. The GPS will ask if you want to simulate the route, click ‘Yes’. You can then view the route as if you were driving it as well as tapping on the top green bar for a list of turn instructions or tapping on the map to get a 2D overview of the route.

When you are done previewing the route, you can take your GPS out of Simulation mode to resume normal operations. There you have it, it can be done, but it isn’t pretty!

2 Responses

  1. would you know how to set a simulated current location on the Garmin GPSmap 60csx?
    there is no “set location” function that I could find.


    Simon - April 29th, 2008
  2. Hi all,

    I’m planning a bicycle trip and think of using a mobile GPS (Nokia 5800) as a back-up device : I’ll have all the day routes stored in the device but as having the GPS on all day would be battery consuming, I’d like to use it only whenever I feel lost and check my position in relation to the current route.
    I remember using a quite old GPS device, which would store a route and could show the offset of a position to the route.Any idea of a current GPS programm that could perform in the above described mode ?


    Manos Carabassis - July 8th, 2010

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