Adventure Gear: Old Fashioned Maps and Street Guides

I’m horrible with directions.  I have no general sense of direction, and more often than not, the direction I think is correct, is actually the complete opposite of where I should be headed.  Lucky for me, I married a navigator (and great driver), but because of these great skills, I tend to check-out and take in the scenery without a care of how we might be getting where we are going.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are places I been to countless times, yet I would never be able to get there on my own without step by step directions.  

Adventure Gear: The Old Fashioned Map and Street Guide |

I believe I’m getting better though.  For one, I now make a conscious effort, most of the time, to pay attention and even ask questions to stay engaged in how we are getting somewhere.  

And for two, though I haven’t quit completely, I’m trying to not always rely on step-by-step, turn-by-turn directions from sources like google maps and apps you might find on your phone.  It all started when I was on my way to Kubota Garden in South Seattle with Bergen.  Here I was so happy to go on this adventure after running some errands nearby when I suddenly realized, I really didn’t know how to get there!

I do not have a smart phone.  An iPod Touch, yes, but that tool would only be helpful with a WiFi connection.  I suppose I could have pulled over and found a place to connect, look up directions, and be on my way, but then I realized something was sitting right behind me ready show me the way!

Adventure Gear: The Old Fashioned Map and Street Guide |

Years ago, I purchased a street guide for the Greater Seattle area and threw it in the back of my car thinking it would be there if I needed it.  I never really used the thing until this day, and it was eye-opening for me.  I flipped through, found the map showing the general area we were in, and planned my route to the garden.  There is even a index in the back making it easy to look up common places like schools, parks, museums, and other points of interest.  

Using my street guide or just a good old fashioned map makes me happy and they truly come in handy.  Here’s why: 

  • It’s easy.  Like I mentioned, just flip through or check the index and voila, there is the map you need.  No waiting around for the network or internet connection to work. 
  • A physical map just feels more usable than looking up a location on a mobile device.  There is actual thinking involved instead of just relying on the directions generated by the internet, which engages me in the process of finding the place.  And since I’ve done the work here , I’m more likely to know how to get there on my own next time.  
  • Internet directions can be unreliable.  I just read an article in the Seattle Times today about travelers driving to the Anchorage Airport and actually driving on the runway because that’s where the map app on their apple device was guiding them.  That’s just not okay.  
  • These maps and the ones corresponding to them give me a better perspective of where I am and where I am headed.
  • The map is not going anywhere.  It won’t run out of battery life, be out of cell range or without internet access.  It’s there when I need it.   

Do you break out the old-fashioned maps and street guides when on the road? Or are you a mobile device map user? Little bit of both? Tell us about it!

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4 thoughts on “Adventure Gear: Old Fashioned Maps and Street Guides

  1. I have never been very good at reading maps. Ask my kids: the first time we went backpacking together, I took them up the wrong river and we ended up in the wrong canyon. It was still fun, but not my best moment as a responsible parent.

    Perhaps because I am so lame with maps, my oldest son LOVES them. He collects ski resort maps and pulls out our US Road Atlas often to study different states, plan adventures and just read maps. When we are on road trips, we always stop at state welcome centers to pick up maps. Nothing keeps the boys happier than following along. It’s been this way since they were little and no they’re teens. Amazing!

    And, when we go backpacking, I put them in charge of navigation.

    Thanks for a fun post!

    • Sounds like you and are very similar in terms of following directions and reading maps! Good to know there is someone out there that understands!

      I LOVE how your son collects maps! It will be interesting to see if our little guy picks that up as he gets older. At this point he is very interested in which way to go…always requesting to go “this way” or “that way”. I’m hoping I’ll have a mini-navigator like you do! That would be so helpful 🙂

      Thanks so much for your comment!

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