Van Life

FollowMee Personal Tracking App vs SPOT Messenger Device

As a solo Lady Nomad, a personal tracking app is an important part of my nomadic arsenal.

The ability to be tracked brings peace of mind to my Follower’s (the family and friends who track me) and it’s reassuring to know someone knows where I am.

Aside from that, my favorite feature of my personal tracking app is the ability to look back at my tracks and see where I’ve been.

I currently use the FollowMee.com tracking app but, for almost a year, I used the SPOT Messenger device.

Just A Heads Up… I may earn commission on purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tidbits About the Personal Tracking App or Device

A tracking app is something you download on your smartphone (or anything with smartphone capabilities).

A tracking device is it’s own separate device.

Either way, you’re being tracked using GPS locator functionality.

Depending on the features you choose, you can pull up a history of where you’ve been. I enjoy looking back at where I’ve been or, if I’m trying to remember where I was 3 days ago, I can look on my tracking app!

Personal Tracking App Pros and Cons

There are many free and paid tracking apps available and they come with a variety of options.

Many of the free personal tracking apps require that you follow each other. With two-way tracking, anyone who wants to track you also has to be tracked within the app.

The two-way tracking also requires each person to have a smartphone or smart device. A desktop PC or laptop won’t work.

If two-way tracking is what you’re looking for then your options are wide open.

But, if you have family and friends who don’t use smartphones or they prefer not to be tracked then the options aren’t as plentiful.

With one-way tracking, only you are being tracked by your Follower’s.

I’m in the one-way category which is what I’ll be sharing about in this post.

FollowMee – A Personal Tracking App

FollowMee.com has options for both personal and business tracking.

I’m not familiar with the business tracking side but I am familiar with the personal tracking and I’m very happy with it.

FollowMee Account Set Up

There’s a little setup involved.

  • You’ll need to download the app on your smartphone – the personal tracking app turns your phone in to a tracking device and this is how you are tracked. 
  • An online account needs to be created. 
  • Your Follower’s need to create an account and give you their USERID. Your Follower’s just need to create a free account. No other setup is needed. They don’t have to download the app because they’re not the one being tracked. The account they set up online is needed so they can log in and track you. 
  • Once you have your Follower’s USERID’s you’ll delegate access to them so they can log in and see your map. 
  • The Follower’s do NOT need smartphones. They can see where you are on any type of device that has internet access. 

FollowMee Cost

There’s a free 15-day trial period giving you access to the Deluxe version. After the trial period is over you are downgraded to the free version unless you upgrade to one of the paid versions.

There are several variables to the paid versions so I can’t give you an exact price but I can tell you its very reasonable.

To see the current pricing go to FollowMee.com.

FollowMee Options

  • The free version lets your Follower’s see your current location only. There is no tracking option with the free version. Your Follower’s see where you are in real-time but no one (including yourself) can see where you’ve been.
  • The paid versions let you add extended history tracking (up to several years worth).

I originally started with the free version but quickly realized I wanted to see my tracks.

I upgraded to 3 days worth of tracking (I think it cost me $4-$5) but didn’t feel that was enough so I increased it to 14 days worth of tracking for $6.49 per year.  The app has settings that can be adjusted to preserve battery life on your phone.

You can change how often the app tracks you (every 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc).

A schedule can be set so that the app doesn’t run 24 hours a day. There’s a weekday schedule and a weekend schedule. I’ve set my schedule so that the app only runs from 6am to 10pm because I don’t need it running while I sleep.

The nice thing about the FollowMee personal tracking app is everything is automatic (once you set it up the way you like it). I don’t need to remember to turn it on or off but there is an option to manually turn it off if there’s ever a need to do so.

SPOT Messenger Tracking Device

During my first year of nomadic living I used the SPOT Gen3 Messenger tracking device. I no longer use it but it’s definitely a product worth mentioning.

The SPOT Messenger is not a personal tracking app for your phone – it’s a separate device. It measures about 2 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches long and is about 1 inch thick.

The SPOT Messenger works off of satellite rather than a cell signal. You can be tracked anywhere the satellite can see you. If you have a clear view of the sky a satellite can see you.

The SPOT device can track your location and it can send pre-set messages.

The SPOT device is a messenger device only. The device only sends messages and tracking information to your Follower’s. You cannot communicate back and forth with anyone.

Any of the pre-set messages sent to to your Follower’s includes your exact location at the time you pushed the button to send the message.

Setting Up A SPOT Account

There are several pieces of information and messages you’ll need to set up on your account BEFORE you use the SPOT device.

You’ll need to enter a list of people who can track you (your Follower’s).

Each Follower has the option to receive a text message or an email when you opt to send a message. When setting up your account you’ll need to specify which method each Follower wants.

The text vs email option is nice because your Follower doesn’t need to have a smartphone – although they do need internet access if they opt to receive an email.

The SPOT device allows several pre-set messages to be sent to your Follower’s.

There are several buttons on your SPOT device and each button sends a different message.

You’ll determine what you want each message to be when you set up the account. You can change the messages any time you like but you need to set them up right away so they’re always ready to use.

Emergency contacts and additional information are also entered when setting up your account.

SPOT Messenger Cost

The SPOT messenger device cost me about $165. I bought my device at Gander Mountain but I’ve since found them cheaper on Ebay and Amazon.

You’ll also need to pay for service in order to use the SPOT device. Monthly service (currently) costs $15 a month. On the monthly plan you can stop service when you’re not using it and restart service when you need it.  Annual service costs $165 and is paid in full. When using the annual plan you can’t stop and start at will.

These are the prices when I had the service. See FindMeSpot.com for current subscription information. 

Features of SPOT Gen3

There are several messages and features that are included in the basic service fee.

  • I’m OK (message): You push a button and the device sends a pre-set message to your Follower’s letting them know exactly where you are and that you’re ok. My arrangement with my Follower’s was that I’d send them an “I’m OK” message each day between 6 and 9pm. If they didn’t receive a message they would contact me to make sure I’m ok.
  • Tracking: A tracking feature lets you track where you’ve been. You can allow the entire world to see your tracks or you can keep your tracks private and only those who you share the link and password with can view them online. 
  • Non-emergency help (message): There’s a feature that let’s you send a pre-set message to a specific person(s) when you need non-emergency help. This list is not the same as your Follower list. This is a list you need to set up before using the device. 
  • SOS Emergency: The best feature of this device is, by simply pushing a button, you can summon emergency help. When you push the SOS button your GPS coordinates are sent to the SPOT team who alerts the local EMS and provides them with your information. The SOS feature is automatic – you do not need to set it up on your account. The only thing you need to set up ahead of time is your emergency contacts and any additional information you want the EMS to know about. 
  • An extra message: There’s one more button you can use to send a message. You can use this button/message for anything you like. I set mine up so that, when I was in a place with no cell signal, I could push the button on my SPOT messenger letting my Follower’s know I won’t be answering my text messages or phone calls because I had no cell signal.  

Additional features are available for an additional fee.

One of my concerns was accidentally pushing the SOS button. But that cannot happen. The SOS button is protected by a hard flap that needs to be flipped open before the button can be pushed.

Who Needs A SPOT Messenger?

This device is good for anyone who wants the features it offers. Those who go to remote areas where cell service is spotty or non-existent will find it most beneficial.

Final Thoughts On The SPOT Messenger Device

When I had the SPOT messenger I sent an “I’m OK” message to my Follower’s every evening between 6pm and 9pm CST.

Having to remember to send my message during a certain time frame was sometimes a pain and being in different time zones added a confusing twist to it.

I kept my SPOT in the van and there were times when I wasn’t close to the van between 6pm and 9pm CST.

I forgot to send my message a few times and, eventually, no one questioned it.

In all fairness, my daughter is one of my Follower’s and I talk or text with her every day (sometimes many times a day). She knows I’m ok without having to look.

Interestingly enough, a couple of Lady Nomad friends (who use the SPOT) said similar things. Their Follower’s don’t even look at the “I’m OK” message nor do they notice if they don’t receive the message.

I think it boils down to… when you live on the road full-time it eventually becomes normal to your family and friends and the need for them to check up on you isn’t as prevalent as it was in the beginning.

It’s just like when I lived in a sticks-n-bricks a couple towns away – no one checked on me every single day.

All-in-all, the SPOT messenger is a great device but I realized it wasn’t what I needed for my particular situation.

My finances also dictated making a change and, after much searching and testing, I decided on FollowMee.

Final Thoughts On The FollowMee Personal Tracking App

FollowMee works via cell signal.

Verizon has the best coverage around and, for the places I visit, I’m rarely without a cell signal.

In the year and a half that I’ve been living a nomadic lifestyle I’ve found that, in the few places I don’t have a cell signal, I don’t stay long anyway.

With the FollowMee personal tracking app my Follower’s can see where I am any time they want and I don’t have to remember to send a message at a certain time every day.

Unlike the SPOT device (which I didn’t carry with me when I left the van)… I always have my phone with me whether I’m in the van or not.

FollowMee’s extended tracking features are very inexpensive and I enjoy having the tracking feature. I’m considering increasing my tracking history again. Even if no one else finds it beneficial, I do!

Like the SPOT, the FollowMee app pinpoints me on a map along with my coordinates and it’s reassuring to know that, if the needs arises, I can be located.

FollowMee has worked out well for me. I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t need satellite based tracking.

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