If you are new to an area, here are some expert tips on how to go exploring, without getting lost.
When you first start exploring around a new location, walk within a two to three block radius of the hotel. This will familiarize you with the area.
Some people freak out about wandering around in a strange place, but exploring is part of the fun. You never know what you’ll discover.
Go out the front door, turn right and walk a couple of blocks from the hotel. Make note of any landmarks, or take a photo on your cell phone. Then turn to the right, walk two blocks and do it again. It’s a simple but very effective way to explore around the block, without getting lost.
Of course if you’re just staying overnight, it’s no big deal. You might not want to go exploring if you’re tired. But I encourage you to go out and look around, even if its just around the block, because you never know what you’ll find.
Besides, after driving all day and then eating dinner, it’s a great way to get a little exercise. Just a casual, relaxing walk is all it takes to burn off excess calories. Otherwise, it’s easy to pack on the weight during the trip.
Open your smartphone or computer and check the maps app. It will show you the major roads, buildings and parks near your current location. You can use websites like Yelp to find highly rated restaurants within walking distance.
Depending on the app you use, it might have a pedestrian mode. This tracks you at walking speed and shows everything that’s around you. This is one of my favorite ways to explore, but it can also get you out of a jam.
On one trip, while visiting friends in North Carolina, we all went on a hike around a huge lake. We were out all day and it was starting to get dark. I hadn’t been paying attention to landmarks, thinking that we were on a guided tour, but our host had never been to the lake either.
I was smart enough (or lucky enough, not sure which) to have set a flag noting the GPS location of the car when we set out. Having realized we were lost, I selected the flag in the GPS and it guided us to the car within 30 minutes. We made it back, just as it was getting pitch black in the woods.
If you don’t have a GPS unit, get GPS software for your smartphone, or a data plan and a good map app. Then there’s no excuse for getting lost. You’ll never have to rely on anyone for navigation, or ask for directions to ever again. It’s a wondrous technology that you won’t want to leave home without.