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Getting lost while traveling in a city or country you’re not familiar with can be very frightening. Luckily, there are some tips on what to do if you don’t know where you are or how to get back to your hotel when you’re traveling. Although we live in a world where GPS is easily accessible, this source may not always help you, especially if you’re in a foreign county. Perhaps you don’t speak the language, you have no idea where you are, and you can’t get any cell signal. Or maybe you’ve gone on a walk and lost your way. Whatever the situation may be, be sure to remember these tips if you get Lost While Traveling. They could save your life!
1. Navigate Using Satellite Dishes
(Photo: Smarter Travel)
Looking to satellite dishes is the modern equivalent of using the sun or the stars to find your direction. You’ll spot satellite dishes on many rooftops around the world, and according to Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator: A Watchful Explorer’s Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill, they usually point towards the equator. So if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the satellite dishes should all be pointing south.
2. Follow the STOP Rule
If you’re lost in the wilderness, follow the STOP Rule:
Stop: Wandering aimlessly will only make matters worse. Stop and stay where you are.
Think: Try your best to not panic. Think things through before you waste your energy trying to do anything.
Observe: Look at what’s around you and see if there’s anything near (shelter, water, etc.) that can help you. What did you bring along that can help you?
Plan: Figure out how to find water, make a fire, create a signal to attract attention, and find/make a shelter if need be.
3. Find a Landmark
Was there a memorable landmark—perhaps a famous site or statue that you were trying to find? Ask a local to point you in the direction of that specific attraction. Can’t find anyone? Try to get up to a tall point—perhaps an observation deck or a big hill, which will give you a better view to try and find someone.
4. Find a Public Transit Stop
Finding a public transit stop can be very helpful if your lost while traveling. Often times, a bus stop or subway station will have a street map showing the surrounding area. This can help you figure out where to go on foot if the buses/trains are no longer running. Another option is to board the bus or subway to your destination if you know what the closest stop is.
5. Get a Taxi
If you’re tired of walking around with no sense of where you are, the best idea might be to simply get a cab. If you have your destination written down, the driver should know how to get there. It’s important to always have the name and address of the hotel you’re staying at written down in the local language to give to a cab driver, or when asking a local for directions. You can always grab your hotel’s business card or brochure before setting out to make it easier!
6. Find a Decent Hotel
If you’re having trouble getting a cab and your lost while traveling, try to find a decent hotel. The person working at the front desk should be able to call a taxi for you, even if you’re not a guest. If you just need directions and aren’t looking to get a taxi, the hotel’s concierge should be able to assist you. They’re more likely to speak English!
7. Get Wi-Fi
Even in the most rural places, most bars or cafes have Wi-Fi. Stop in an establishment and get the Wi-Fi code so you can look up directions. Be sure to screenshot the directions so you don’t get lost again once Wi-Fi is no longer accessible!
8. Ask Someone!
This is an obvious suggestion, but it can be difficult to ask someone for help if you’re in a dangerous area or don’t speak the local language. If you don’t speak the language, try using Google Translate’s offline app to speak for you. You may not feel entirely safe asking someone for directions off the street, so walk into the nearest store, restaurant, bar, etc. to find someone who can help.
If you can spot another group of tourists with a tour guide, it could be a good option to ask them. The guide will often times speak more than one language and might be able to direct you. Of course, you can always seek out a police officer for help!
Caroline Morse, Smarter Travel | August 26, 2016