Can you find me now?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

If you have been following my blog, you remember my post about passing out and hitting my head one night while sick. Several folks made comments about setting up a way to have others local to you check in on you, nightly/daily check-in phone calls, etc.

None of these are perfect...if you like to boondock in the middle of nowhere, there isn't someone you can ask to check on you. And if you're a solo lady, that in of itself is a bit scary (asking someone you don't know....). A daily check-in by phone can be difficult as might be out of cell phone range is the first problem. The second is inconveniencing someone on a daily basis.

In one of my favorite motorcycle forums they have been discussing Personal Locator Beacon solutions.
"The PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) is a pocket-sized emergency 406MHz beacon, a scaled down version of the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) that boaters and pilots, respectively, have had available to them for years."
Landfall Navigation

These items were brought up in a boondocking session I attended at RV Life on Wheels recently. While a nice option, they are pricey...VERY pricey at $500-700 although there are no annual fees.

Recently some new products have come into the marketplace. One is the TracMe Beacon, only $99 and again, no annual fees. Note that this is not satellite communication and it does not automatically start a search & rescue operation. Not does it allow you to notify someone that you are okay. But it is one newer solution to be considered.

The new product now being discussed in The Motorcycle Tourer's Forum is the SPOT Satellite Messenger. Priced at $170 by the manufacturer, it is in the affordable range. (The cheapest price I found was at, at under $135.) There is an annual fee of $99 for the basic services with a couple of upgrade options. But for the $99 you get a lot...
  • ALERT 9-1-1:
    Dispatch emergency responders to your exact location. Unlimited usage included.
    Let contacts know where you are and that you’re okay. Unlimited usage included.
    Request help from friends and family at your exact location. Unlimited usage included.
This means you can easily use it to notify family/friends that you are okay. Run into a problem, then you can ask for help via the SPOT Messenger. And in an emergency you can send a message to the control center who can notify your emergency contacts for you.

It's not any satellite solution it needs a clear line of sight for the best signal. It can take up to 20 minutes to lock onto the signal. Too many trees or other obstructions and the signal may not go out. But if you have been using the CHECK IN feature, then your last location sent is available as a starting point.

Here are some reviews I found, Lets Go Mobile and Wild Snow, as well as a good FAQ page on the emergency service. One of the motorcyclists has sent check in updates to his blog! I really like this product and think it will only get better. I think I see one in my near future....

UPDATE 5/12/08: I have purchased a SPOT Messenger - see the link in the sidebar or click HERE for the best price including Priority Mail shipping.

Till next time - keep on rollin',


  1. Have you considered a GM vehicle with OnStar? They have several options, and I think one of them would meet most of your needs for under $20 per month!. Then all you need is a button that you have to push before 1 p.m. or it will send a call for help.

  2. Not being in the position of buying a new vehicle with OnStar, it's a moot point. Plus since it's not portable it wouldn't help if I had fallen in the RV or while out walking.

    OnStar is great for what it is...but I think a portable unit has more flexibility. Plus I don't think OnStar would want to contact my family every day and let them know I was okay. LOL!

  3. This is the best advice. My mother would absolutely kill me but she has pneumonia. She doesn't want anyone to know that. We are both sick. If we were in Rodeo New Mexico or somewhere even more remote this would be a handy feature to have. I have On Star in the car but I like the fact that they would let family know I was okay. If I didn't have internet service in Rodeo my family would have sent out search parties. Very good post. Thank you for the information.

  4. Great information for those who travel alone.

    I haven't visited your blog in a few days and was surprised to see all the changes you are making. Sounds like you are going with the flow and it's all working out well for you. Smart move on your part to work at lightening the load on your RV--way too many people are traveling with overloaded rigs which can void warranties and cause problems down the road.

  5. Great info Donna...thank you for the head's up. This is just what we are looking for...grandpa is still insistant on staying alone at 91! We are considering a workcamping position in Branson MO this summer so this will be a great way to assure he is OK while we are gone.

    Hope this finds you well...

    Paul and Dennise Ziaja
    The fedexman and the Dizzy Blone
    The Meandering Ziaja's (on hold now!)

    PS We are still in the RGV due to some medical issues that hopefully will be resolved soon...

  6. The SPOT satellite messenger is highlighted in Family Motorcoaching Magazine this month on page 46. I like the idea that it sends an exact GPS location via commercial satellite network. Even if a signal cannot be sent due to trees, your most recent location would be available. And the two AA lithium batteries have a standby life of 12 months. WOW!!

    We also have OnStar, but if we're away from our vehicle, OnStar wouldn't be very helpful.

    Maybe you should get paid for doing all this research for all of us. Hugs, Gail

  7. We have a friend who travels solo most of the time, and he in effect, checks in with us multiple times during the day, since we email back and forth a lot.

    He lets us know when he is going to move, his destination, and approximate time of arrival.

    If it turns out that he does not put up his satellite dish for the internet upon arrival, he gives us a call to let us know that he has arrived safely.

    I'm not entirely sure what I would do if he didn't check in promptly, but knowing at least that he is unaccounted for, and his general route, gives something to go on if a search needs to be launched.

    If you are in contact with someone on a regular basis, either by email, or with someone who has the same telephone system as yours so there is no charge to either party, then that person would be aware of the fact that you are unaccounted for and could contact whoever you designate.

    This doesn't solve the problem when you are out of range, but presumably you would know when you are out of range, and perhaps could find a regular telephone to make a "safe arrival" call.

    Donna, as popular as you are, I'm sure folks would stand in line to be your "designated contact"! ;-> I know I would!

    Virtual hugs,


  8. WOW Donna what a find, that Spot thingie is just what I have been fantasizing about for my travels into the uncharted places I sometimes travel. I want of those just for the techno coolness, but your research may save me one of these days also.

    Keep living the dream.

  9. Wow! Great information!
    I can definitely see a SPOT in many RVer's futures.
    And the future of many folks who live alone.
    Thanks for the info and love your blog!

    Love,Laughter,Peace and Blessings!

  10. This device could be very handy and the price and fee aren't bad.

    A few caveats: it will not likely work in most buildings, especially metal trailers or sheds.

    It has coverage in most important populated parts of the world but there are big holes in its coverage, so it should not be used as a substitute for a personal locator beacon for those traveling in remote areas or on the high seas.

    I suggest your read carefully the various reviews to see if it will be right for YOU. For many folks tis could literally be a lifesaver, and could also be a great convenience. for some folks though other alternatives would be preferable.

    Some additional info is on the Equipped to Survive site




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