Global positioning is a useful technology. It can be used to pinpoint your current location - great if you're lost - and, of course, help you find the fastest or least congested route from A to B.

But satnavs have long been criticised for our loss of basic map-reading skills, for distracting drivers and, not least, for their nagging voices. Indeed, a recent survey conducted by Direct Line reveals that 300,000 UK drivers have either crashed or had a near-miss because they were concentrating on the satnav rather than the road.

So it's just as well that GPS isn't confined to satellite navigation devices. Over the following pages, we'll be looking at a different use for the technology: geo-tagging.

Digital cameras and mobile phones are increasingly able to geo-reference information and pinpoint our location. It's now possible to ‘geo-tag' photos before uploading them to the web, allowing Google Maps, Google Earth and similar mapping applications to display the exact location that an image was taken.

For Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, obtaining advance visual information about where they were bound was invaluable on their ‘Long Way Down'. For the rest of us, such information can be useful for holiday planning and general reference.

You can check out photos posted by other geo-taggers of holiday locations, hotels or campsites before you head there, or upload your own images so friends can track your trip while you take some time out from the rat race.

You'll need a GPS-enabled device to allow a location to be embedded into the image file. If your existing mobile phone or camera doesn't feature such technology, it may be compatible with an external GPS unit.

You'll also need to sign up to a geo-tagging site such as Panoramio, which we've used in the following walkthrough.

Get tagging

1. Panoramio offers 2GB of storage for your digital images. Here, snaps can be tagged and then displayed on Google Maps, where they will appear whenever someone visits that location. Head to Panoramio and set up an account. Enter an email address, username and password.

Geo-tagging Step 1

2. It's unlikely that you'll have the hardware necessary for embedding geographical information into an image file to hand. Instead, upload your photos to Panoramio and add geographical details from here. While the site lacks a batch uploader, you can browse to and initiate a second upload while the first is in progress.

Geo-tagging Step 2