Travelling is amazing, however, some people often feel like their lost, regardless of how prepared they are for their journey, while others just may get lost along the way (whether in a good sense or bad). We have compiled a few tips for you in regards to navigating your way around when you are out and about.
You may be thinking why in the world would you want to know this if your phone has GPS and you have all the apps you need? This seems to be such an 80’s thing – we mean the “getting lost.” Well, traveling, as exciting as it is, being disoriented in a country unknown with an empty battery in your phone is not always fun. Perhaps you don’t even speak the language, are in the middle of nowhere, perhaps you have some battery in your phone, but no signal?
Keep these tips in mind and they just might come in handy.
Out in the wilderness
If you are hiking in the mountains, plains, or far, far away from any signs of civilization and you get lost, then following the STOP rule may be your best chance of making it through.
Stop – most people are not nature experts. Rather then find civilization you may want to just stay where you are, especially if you cannot orientate yourself. A search party finding you will be easier if you’re in the same spot for a while, rather than wandering around aimlessly.
Think – Do not panic under any circumstances. If you are lost, you are lost. Too bad. Panicking does not help. Do not waste precious energy doing “something” before actually having gone through the last point in your head (the P).
Observe – Begin orientating yourself and familiarizing with your surroundings. See if you find a freshwater source, shelter, etc. Check your own supplies and see what you have with you that may help with the surroundings in which you find yourself.
Plan – Now that you are in one spot, are thinking clearly and sort of know the environment in which you are in, you can begin planning out the next steps for survival. Build a shelter, make a fire, create a signal for attraction, and make sure to find fresh water.
You may be thinking about stars now, but in our modern world, we have something better for you. The modern day equivalent of utilizing the stars to navigate are…drum roll please…satellite dishes. Regardless of where you are, you’ll easily know which direction is which if you can spot satellite dishes. How?
Satellite dishes tend to point towards the equator. Hence, if you are lost in the northern hemisphere, satellite dishes should all be pointing south (more or less). From there use logic to know which way north is, and then you’ll know east and west based on where the sun stands as well.
Navigating a city
Nearly every city has some sort of tall building or landmark that can be seen from far away. A tall building, or even things like the sea/ocean, etc. Be creative. Once you have picked a landmark, you can simply ask people to navigate you there. This works especially well if you are trying to go somewhere most people have never heard of. Say, you are looking for a very specific restaurant which even locals may not know. However, you know it’s in the direction of some tall building. Find out the name, and ask for directions towards there. Otherwise get up to a tall point, like a hill or building overlooking the city and get a better viewpoint.
Many cities, especially large ones, have public transportation including subway stations or bus lines. Every stop regardless of where you are tends to have a street map of the surrounding area. These maps can help you figure out where you are and where you need to go. Perhaps you can even take public transport should your destination still be too far to walk too. It’s a simple and great way to navigate yourself through large cities.
Alternatively to public transport, you may want to try a taxi (or similar form of ridesharing, in other words, Uber and co.). Always read up to make sure Taxi transportation in your city of choice is reliable. Hence, rather than wandering aimlessly, you can hop in a taxi and ask the driver to take you straight to your destination. A tip when you do this is to always have a “safe place,” something like your hotel, if it is well known or another hotel if it is not, with the phone number and address written down in local language. This way you can always get back to an area you are familiar with should you land in the middle of nowhere.
*Tip – Grab a business card from the front desk or a brochure on your way out
Find a hotel
Similar to the tip above, however, with the slight difference that you go into the hotel. Say you can’t find a taxi, just walk into a hotel and find the reception. The person at the front desk will probably be able to help you. That is part of their job, right? In upscale hotels, you can even talk to the concierge to help you with directions, and they are most likely to probably speak a foreign language you may know as well.
Where is WiFi?
In today’s world, even extremely remote places will have some sort of WiFi. It may not be the best, safest, or fastest, but hey, at least it’s Wifi! If you must, buy something small and get a code so that you can look up directions on your phone.
If you have no more money on you, just wander around until you find a place that has free Wifi to which you can connect too. Our only tip is to be careful when connecting to free unsecured wifi spots!
Don’t be afraid, ask!
This is fairly obvious, no? However, it may not always be as easy as one thinks. Perhaps you are in a remote area or an area knows for mugging, etc. On top of that, you may not speak the local language. If you don’t have a phone on you, find a local and ask for a landmark, even if he/she does not speak your language. Say the name and point. They may be able to help you out. If you have your phone, carefully use something like Google translate.
If this is not an option and you do not feel safe on the street, head into a restaurant, cafe, or shop and ask someone there.
Thirdly, see if you spot any other obvious tourists. They may perhaps speak your language and could help you out.
Lastly, see if you can find local law enforcement.
Overall, these are just a few tips that may help you the next time you are on the road and may be lost. Some are more obvious than others, however, just use common sense in regards to what to do and when depending on where you are and what you are trying to find. Either way, always plan ahead, like learning a few phrases of the local language, or finding out what areas to be in and what to avoid.