It’s hard to deny that navigation and mapping are hard. When I was growing up, I refused to stop reading, and I never went anywhere alone. I adamantly refused any effort to learn about navigation. This feeling was amplified by mini-accidents in my childhood. One time my mom gave me map to go to the library after school. I turned the map upside down and ended up walking in the opposite direction of the library into an unfamiliar neighborhood. I couldn’t figure out where I was, so I went to the nearest grocery store and called my mom. After that, I didn’t want to use maps anymore. I didn’t know at the time that they would be the key to growing up and being an independent person.
During high school and college, I had to start figuring out how to get places on my own. At first, I was very uneasy, especially given my navigation mishaps as a child. Eventually it became second nature to find places on my own. Obviously, GPS helps me half the time, but I actually know how to direct others around town and on campus based on my own knowledge. This makes me very proud; it is a real skill that is important for all walks of life! So here I have constructed some pro tips on navigation.
First off, always have a charged phone to call people in emergencies. As my story shows, having someone to call when you are lost or need a confidence booster is a must as a beginning navigator. Patience is also key when you have to keep stopping and looking at directions and the street signs.
Remember to walk around your neighborhood and surrounding streets to gain familiarity with the layout of the area. You can start small with your apartment complex before moving out to the streets.
Literally draw out your route on a paper. I don’t care if people say GPS or Google Maps is better. Once the route is drawn, study the map until you understand how the roads turn. While walking, try to orient the road you are using to the way the map faces. This helps you be certain that you are headed in the correct direction! Keep practicing with paper maps- using recycled paper is always good for navigation exercises.
The best places to start getting to are nearby stores or places of beauty. Therefore, arrival is a treat for your tongue, if you chose a grocery store, or for your eyes, if you chose a park. This way, when you stop to congratulate yourself on arrival, you look normal for standing around. The next step is to go to unfamiliar or further-away locations, and this may require use of Google Maps.
When you are good at using paper maps try Google Maps. Once more, look over your route before starting. I personally don’t like the way Google Maps looks because the arrow changes directions if you move your phone. I am just trying to orient the map! However, it is still an extremely useful tool that I utilize often. In Davis, when I got lost going to the vet school area to visit horses or to internships, Google Maps saved me many times. Going to unusual places with friends is another great way to practice your newfound skills.
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It may be hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone at first, but the effort will be worth it. Just imagine the day you will be able to effortlessly navigate foreign countries while your fellow tourists look at you with envy!
Safe mapping, friends!