In the age of apps, it seems impossible for anyone to get lost. But with service not being the same everywhere, there’s always a chance of realizing you don’t know where the heck you are without any cell signal. Don’t fret—it’s an easily fixed situation with a little preparation and communication. Here’s how to not get lost on a road trip. Keep these tips in mind to reach your destination sooner.
Plan and Plot Out
Before you get on the road, figure out where you’re going. It’s good to add a little chance to a trip but not so much you spend most of your journey figuring out where you are. Naturally, program a trip into your favorite directional app or the navigation device in your car, but also take the time to familiarize yourself with the journey on services that give a ground’s eye view. Look for landmarks and note places to stop along the way for food, drink, accommodations, and directions. A binder of printed-out maps wouldn’t be bad; you could even bring along a national road atlas. Go full analog by packing a compass and some basic scouting skills too.
Read the Signs (Not Just the Obvious Ones)
You’re on the road, driving through another state, going off the highway, and following the directions issued by your phone or car. Suddenly, you run out of power or service and realize you have no idea where you are. Naturally, look for helpful road signs directing you to a nearby town, familiar restaurant chain, or travelers’ service. But other signs should be an indicator that you’re going the wrong way. Consider the road’s quality. If it’s wide and paved, it’s probably a main road. Stick with it and you’ll find a town. Also, unless you’re traveling to a rustic area, if the road turns to gravel or dirt, you’re going the wrong way and possibly even trespassing. Learn to read the terrain to avoid escalating your negative situation.
Look for the Helpers
No matter how big or small the place, every town has folks ready to help a traveler in need. Gas stations are standard places to ask for directions—but they might suggest you buy a map first. Watch for hotels and motels, which often have Wi-Fi, chargers, maps, and clerks used to providing directions. Also, every town has a city hall, chamber of commerce, or local museum attended by folks not only knowledgeable about the region but also eager to make a good impression.
Keep Your Cool and Retrace Your “Steps”
When figuring out how to not get lost on a road trip, make sure to safely pull over the car, take a breath, and review where you’ve been and where you are. Even in the middle of a big city, there are plenty of signs and services to get you on your way, but you won’t make headway if you panic!
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