By Leo Babauta
It’s strange, but I’ve discovered I have a better sense of direction than many people — when I travel, it doesn’t take that long for me to figure out the lay of the land, and soon I’m walking around almost like a local.
But I’ve also found out that many other people don’t have this good sense of direction, and it can make things difficult for them when they travel to a new place.
I used to think maybe it was something you were born with or not, but I’m now convinced that it’s a set of skills you can learn. For me, it always seemed instinctive, until a friend asked me what i do when I get to a new place. I’ve done a lot of analyzing of what I do since then, and I’ve broken the skill into a series of steps.
I hope this helps those who feel lost.
Here’s what I recommend, whenever you get to a new city or area you’re not totally familiar with:
First, look at a map for a few minutes. I will open Google Maps and look at the city and its major landmarks and features. Is there a river, lake, harbor, sea shore? Is there a big central park, or several big parks? Where is the downtown area? What are the major neighborhoods? Major roads? Famous buildings, like the Sydney Opera house? What’s to the north or south?
Walk around a lot. When I first get to a city, I like to walk around a lot. This is the best way to get to know a city, to wander and start to develop a sense of where things are and how the city look…