Road Trips: Finding Your Way.

You’re on a road trip out on the open road, going from A to B, how do you find your way?

We’ll exclude the random, road trips to the unknown, because in those cases the concept of getting lost can be exciting, adventurous and lead to new discoveries. But if you have a goal, a place you’re looking to get to, you’re not looking to get sidetracked or lost. Here are some ways people try to find their way.

1. Maps and the Atlas. Lots starts with what people used before technology took over. The old tried-and-true. There’s nothing like taking that map and spreading it over the hood of your car along the interstate or trying to drive while holding a map or the atlas in your hand. Cool I’m on the right track to Daytona from Orlando.

Road Trip - Directions - Maps

St. Louis and Missouri here I come!

Road Trip - Directions - Maps & Atlas

2. Planning ahead. People will checkout the aforementioned maps and atlas before they leave or go the online route using an app like Google Maps. People like to see their route highlighted, the turn-by-turn guide and alternate paths from A to B. Benton Harbor, Michigan to Wrigley Field, got it!

Road Trip - Directions - Google Maps

Even with planning ahead, you might get sidetracked due to construction which requires taking a detour. Those that choose not to follow the detours and say “let’s try going this way instead.”, how’d that turn out?

3. Makes a phone call. People will call and ask someone they know for directions and help. Sometimes helpful, sometimes will lead to more confusion especially when they can’t tell them where they are.

4. GPS. Once on the open road, people turn to their Global Positioning System (GPS). There are lots of devices out there these days that people suction onto their windows or set-up on their vehicle dash. If you veer off path, Glados will probably say “recalculating” or something like “proceed 500 feet then make a U-turn”.

Others will just use the GPS off their Smartphone like the TomTom for the iPhone and the Google maps navigation that comes with the Android. Lot’s of people add-on a GPS device when renting a vehicle so they can find their way.

5. Follows the road signs. In the countries I’ve been in the most, New Zealand does an exceptional job with this, the United States so-so. Signs tell people how far they’re away from the nearest prominent city, town or attraction. Signs on interstates and some numbered roads will tell you what direction you’re going in. Of course, if you wanna take a shortcut and get on a dirt or remote road in the middle of the night obviously all bets are off.

Signage you would see on northbound I-75 in Northern Georgia and in Freedom Park in Atlanta.

Road Trip - Directions - Road signs Road Trip - Directions - Road signs

6. Looks to the sky. Instead of looking for signs along the interstate, they take to the sky following the sun, moon or stars. Lot’s of people take road trips in the summer, the perfect time in regards to the sun. The sun will rise more due east and set more due west. Checking out the sunset outside my window in Toledo, Ohio. That’s west so I must be going south.

Road Trip - Directions - sunset in the West

7. Gut instinct. Some people refuse to ask for directions. Described some above, they go with their gut feeling. Lot’s of people say I know where I’m going or I think it’s this way. Others use the flip-a-coin method or break out “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”.

8. Asks for directions. Those that do ask for directions, will commonly do so at a gas station while they are filling up. Sometimes it’s helpful. I’ve been asked a few times recently at gas stations, but I’ve been traveling myself in all cases and could only provide them with a guess.

Above are some of the common ways people find their way when road tripping. I’m sure there are many more. How do you find your way when out on the open road? Any tried-and-true tips for when you get lost?

4 responses to “Road Trips: Finding Your Way.

  1. I like the Delorme Gazetteer books…I buy one for every state I visit, and I’ve worn out multiple copies of the Michigan book and a few of the Ohio book as well. They have various listings in the books of parks, wineries, historic sites, natural sites, etc…depending on the state.
    We’ve also been known to just follow the GPS without setting a route…traveling the back roads and aiming for the general direction of home.

    • Still have to checkout those Delorme Gazetteer books more. 🙂 What a great idea! Just follow the map on the GPS without a destination but still know where you are.

  2. I’m a plan ahead kind of guy…don’t like relying on GPS, so I’ll practically memorize the route before we leave. Only has let me down a couple times:)

    • Agree, GPS isn’t 100% reliable. Been with several people on the road with GPS and it made us go huh? The less ideal route was just taken. Mapping it out ahead a time makes for a smooth and more ideal plan, checking out the current construction scene along the route too.

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