How to Use a Personal GPS Tracker

7 minute read

GPS trackers are becoming smaller and cheaper than ever and their use keeps expanding. They’re no longer something that you’ll only see in movies or law enforcement. Given their ability to record information about movement, which makes them better than simple GPS software, they’re becoming much more prominent in personal use as well. 

Therefore, in this article, we’ll give you general tips on how to make use of your GPS tracker, what are the upsides of owning such a device, and we’ll also mention some legal hurdles you might face in a number of situations. 

Why Would You Use a Personal GPS Tracker?

Using a GPS tracker will enable you to record movement data of a vehicle, asset, or person. For most devices, you can check the logs on the tracker. Some devices let you view the tracking data remotely. In most cases, viewing the tracking data remotely means you will need to a real-time GPS tracker. while the former is called a passive GPS tracker. So, let’s get into the various purposes of a personal GPS tracker.

If you’re a worried parent, you can keep track of your young ones whether they’re playing outside of the home or returning from school by themselves. Some personal GPS trackers allow the use of customizable ‘geofences’ on certain areas and you can get a notification when the boundary of the selected area is crossed.

Another important application of a personal GPS tracker is taking care of our elderly. As we age we tend to lose some of our capabilities; such is the natural way of things. If you’re ill at ease about a senior in the family and their safety, just like with children, you can keep track of their movement. More on this particular use in “GPS Trackers for the Elderly”. 

Some devices even allow synchronization with a blood pressure monitor or a heart rate monitor and in the case of emergency, you’d get a notification that something’s wrong, as well as the location of the person.

Personal GPS trackers are also great for tracking employees, such as oil rig workers or employees in on-site construction. Dangerous lines of work demand extensive awareness of the employee’s whereabouts and sometimes a supervisor can’t keep track of all of them. A personal GPS tracker would ensure their safety.

Furthermore, these devices are not limited to tracking people only. Should you have the need, you could track vehicles as well. We have much more information about this in our article dedicated to the topic - check out “Track a Car, Truck, or Other Asset”. 

There’s a lot of these trackers that are specialized for such use with varying connectivity and stealth. If you have an unruly 16-year-old who just got their driver’s license, you could also monitor how fast they're going. Or maybe you just want to keep track of the company trucks; whatever floats your boat (yes, you can track those too, just get the magnetic waterproof case).

Lastly, many people use GPS trackers on their pets as well. The real-time GPS trackers can come in very handy in the event of your favorite companion getting lost.

This was a general overview of how you can utilize a personal GPS tracker, but we’re sure you can get creative and find more uses for these convenient widgets.

How Do Personal GPS Trackers Work?

There’s a variety of different tracking devices with different specifics and distinct functionalities, but the most popular personal GPS trackers are split into two groups - real-time GPS trackers and passive GPS trackers.

Real-time GPS trackers can be accessed at any time via supported software and will give you real-time information about the whereabouts and the history of movement of an asset. On the other hand, passive GPS trackers need to be retrieved before accessing the logged information.

Real-time GPS trackers are by far the most popular option out there. They offer a lot of convenience since after attaching, you can access them at any time via your phone or computer and if you choose so, receive live location updates. You can also receive notifications if a tracked vehicle goes over a certain speed or to a certain location.

The upside to passive GPS trackers is that they’re generally much cheaper than real-time personal trackers, so if you don’t mind going through the hassle of retrieving them they’re a great option. Another aspect to them being a budget option is that, with most devices, you pay for them once and use them as much as you want to, without paying additional fees. Simply attach them to an asset in a concealed manner (if necessary) and retrieve them to check the movement history.

Some personal GPS trackers that are specialized for tracking vehicles can be directly attached to a power source within the vehicle, while others use a battery that you’ll need to replace or recharge. The attachable ones are usually connected to a car’s OBD port or hardwired within the vehicle itself and in this case, you’ll never have to worry about battery life. The ones attached to the OBD port tend to be more visible though, so if that’s a problem for you, you can always opt for the hardwired GPS tracker.

As for the battery-based personal GPS trackers, their battery life varies, depending on their size. The smaller ones tend to have shorter battery life, while the bulkier ones can last longer.

Legal Issues You Should Be Aware Of

Before you start tracking an asset or a person, there are some points to consider concerning the legalities of personal GPS tracker use.

As a general rule, it’s legal to use a GPS tracking device if:

  • The asset is owned by you or your organization
  • The tracked car or asset is the subject of a legal repossession
  • Your children are the ones being tracked and they’re under 18

While it’s generally illegal to use a GPS tracking device if:

  • The asset is not owned by you and you don’t have the explicit right to track it
  • The subject of GPS tracking is another person who has not given their consent and you don’t have a warrant to do so

We talk about more such issues in detail in our GPS and Asset Tracking Laws overview.

Before You Go

We hope that we answered all your questions about personal GPS trackers and how you can use them. Should you want to read up on more general information about GPS tracking, head over to our guide[d]. While you’re at it, make sure to check out our store; you never know what you need until you know it exists. We make your discretion and convenience our number one priority.

If you have more questions regarding GPS trackers and spy equipment, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

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