If I wanted to travel overland from UK to China could I get the appropriate maps and could my sat nav actually record the route I've taken so I can upload it to my laptop so people can follow my journey?
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) will work anywhere on the planet, hence the world "Global" in the name. You don't even need maps if all you care about is Latitude and Longitude.
If you're planning on using a GPS to drive somewhere, you'll need local maps (and a system that can use them).The question is if there a map that will work for your country. If the GPS can get at least 3 signals from different satellites, and you have a map for your area installed on your GPS device, the unit can pinpoint your location.