Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Lost

I received quite a disturbing email from a friend recently.  He had just returned from visiting Chicago and New York (perhaps I should have made more of an effort to go with him) and informed me “I didn’t do too much in the cities because I didn’t want to get lost.”  Ugh.  Oi vei.

He goes on:

“Just visited the Statue of Liberty and take pictures…”

At this point, I am thinking good–until I read “through the taxi window.”  Really?

Now I don’t intend to make fun of my friend, and I have to admit it is hard for me to understand this mentality, because my modus operandi is that the best way to explore a place is to get lost.  So what if want to head over to the East River in Manhattan and end up along the Hudson River.  (By the way, 9/11 Memorial maps are useful, but North is the downward direction on the map.)

That said, I am sure it can be quite scary for some folks to become lost in a strange destination.  Maybe I the fact that have become desensitized to being lost makes it more difficult to understand my friend’s feelings.  As Daniel Boone once said, “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”I think one of the main ways to overcome the fear of getting lost is experience.  But what are some other ways to prevent this?

1.       Use Google Maps to plan ahead.  I think one of the best things you can do is plan ahead, and living in the digital age can certainly helpful.  Where do you plan to stay?  What restaurants, shops, and attractions are in that area?  Where are other sites you plan to visit?  A big one for me personally is where’s the nearest public transportation?

2.      Grab a local map.  They are almost always free, and can prove very helpful in helping you find your way around.

3.      Know where you are.  Grab your hotel’s business card.  It may prove handy so you can recall the address, or show someone to have them help you find your way.

4.      Don’t panic.  It’s important to stay calm, and take time to get your bearings straight.  You don’t want to make the situation worse by getting even more lost.

5.      Ask a local.  Some of the best and most helpful advice I’ve been given on finding my way has been from NYPD officers.

6.      Take a tour.  Many cities offer hop-on/hop-off bus tours, bicycle tours and my favorite—segway tours.  Also, there are a number of free walking tours you can take part in.

7.      Use your phone.  I have used my phone’s GPS feature many times.  And one of the most helpful tips, even if you don’t have a “smart” phone, is to tip Google at 466453.  It’s free and is useful for providing the address and phone number of various establishments.  For example, I can find the location of Cheesecake Factories in the Atlanta area by texting “ Cheesecake Factory, Atlanta, GA.”

8.      Notice landmarks.  It may prove helpful later on.  When I stayed at the Ritz Carlton-Atlanta, remembering that it was cross from the Hard Rock Cafe.  This information helped me get my bearings straight right away when exiting MARTA.

9.      If you are in a foreign country, buy a phrase book.  It may come prove helpful for finding your way.

10.  Bring a small backpack.  When I travel I like to use it to carry granola bars, water, knick-knacks I pick up, and most importantly– maps.


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