When you’re on holiday as a modern tourist, the chances of getting lost are far slimmer than they used to be. If you wander off from your planned route, then a few clicks on your phone or a glance at a GPS map and you’re right back on target. There’s no doubt this makes much of travelling much easier. We rely on, use, and benefit from the connectivity available to us for pretty much every part of a trip.
Now, we book our holidays online. We plan our trips, carefully look through our routes, and how to schedule things to make sure we see all the things we want to see. We can view opening hours of attractions we want to visit, going as far as to buy tickets so we have one less thing to carry cash for. We can exchange our currency, buy our clothes and SPF, and we can now even check-in online. Surely, along with the travel agents and the quick dash to the Bureau De Change at the airport, getting lost is something that we can put behind us?
To an extent: yes. There’s no reason to get lost on a holiday if you have a working cellphone along for the ride. However, in the midst of all this technical prowess, is there something else we are losing?
Does Getting Lost Help You Explore?
When we can plan our routes, our pit stops, and every little detail of a holiday down to the finest details, why would we not take the chance to do so? It’s even more imperative if you are travelling through several countries at one, such as crossing the USA/Canada border or enjoying European tours that explore the lengths and breadth of a wide variety of countries. It could even be argued that not taking advantage of these modern conveniences is to be neglectful, potentially even placing yourself in danger. It’s bad enough to consider if you’re just going for a single trip to one destination for a city break, but if you’re spending a lot of time away to explore many places? It’d be madness not to plan it!
Of course, this is true. Even though to an extent this is all about arguing to the contrary, there’s no doubt that making sure you are safe, know where you are going and how to get there… it’s pretty basic stuff. You should definitely do it. And if you’re a planner who wants to make sure you can fit all the things you want to see and do into one location, then there’s nothing wrong with that either. We all have sites we want to tick off a checklist – it’s one of the many advantages of travelling, after all.
However, there is a certain beauty in getting lost. It makes you more aware of your surroundings, and it definitely makes you more likely to stumble over some hidden gem that the guidebooks and websites didn’t include. After all, the compilations of suggested visiting sites are not complete – nor are they tailored directly to you. You might not know where a highlight of a certain location would be for you, because no one has written the guide that would have highlighted it to you.
There is definitely something in just wandering around, not sure where you’re going, and following your instincts. Not only can you stumble across something you might have otherwise missed – from an ancient site to a simply great store selling locally-produced goods – but you also have a chance to get to know a place better. Following directions has a tendency to make us a little more stupid; to close our eyes and not bother to interpret what’s actually in front of us.
Isn’t Getting Lost Dangerous?
In certain cities in the world, yes, it may well be. Even metropolitan wonders like London and Paris have their not-so-great-for-travellers zones. There is a confidence to getting lost, though. If you are wandering around looking bewildered and panicked, then that’s going to make you a target for any nefarious thoughts someone may have. That’s tricky, as it’s how most of us would deal with suddenly not knowing where we were.
If you stroll with your head held high and with a purpose in mind, then you’re no longer such easy prey.
You can also make yourself less of a target by being prepared to get lost. If you run from the hotel to a store to pick up bottle water and take a wrong turn, then you’re not in a good position to be lost. You won’t be wearing suitable footwear to walk, you might not have much money on you, or your cellphone might be back at the hotel as you only thought you were going to be a few minutes. That’s a scary situation and one that should be avoided as best as possible.
But if you plan to get lost, then you can be ready for it. Suitably attired with a number for a local cab firm programmed into your phone, ready to speed to the rescue the moment you decide you’re not enjoying being lost anymore.
What’s The Best Way To Try It?
As mentioned above, the best way to try is when you are prepared for it. For most of your holiday, you can focus on seeing the sites and you should definitely take the advice of those in the know with guided tours and various highlights. You can follow a schedule set for you by others that takes advantage of a local knowledge you just don’t have, even moving from country to country with relative ease.
However, when you get the chance, why not head out for an afternoon with no specific intention in mind? Make sure you’ve a bag on hand with all the essentials, but after that, set foot and see where the roads take you. It can open your eyes to things you otherwise would have missed and make you feel more like a legitimate traveller than you ever have before.