The art of getting lost
A maze in the Denver Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to get lost. (Jim Wark/LPI)
If you read today’s story about the six best cities to get lost in, you can understand why we feel nostalgic for a time when getting lost was a customary part of any travel experience.
Now-a-days, we arm ourselves with an arsenal of navigational tools to prevent doing just that. Between cell phones, smart phones, the Internet, GPS, guidebooks and maps, we have no trouble choosing where we want to go, figuring out how to get there and staying connected the entire time. But what’s the fun in that?
Travel is about exploration, and some of the most fulfilling exploration happens when we lose ourselves -- in a place, in a culture or in an experience. Since getting lost takes a bit of effort in this day and age, here are 10 tips for losing yourself in your next vacation. For all of the below, keep the address of your hotel in your pocket, just in case. If you start to feel uneasy, remember: 10 years ago, there was no such thing as an iPhone; 15 years ago, there was no such thing as Google.
1. Leave your phone at the hotel.
2. Leave all your other stuff there, too. That’s the advice of travel writer Matt Gross, who writes the “Getting Lost” series for the New York Times. “When you show up in a new place”, he told the Huffington Post, “head for a big train or bus station and stow your bags in a locker, so you'll be free to roam without worrying about schlepping all your [stuff] around.”
3. Pay attention to what’s around you, not where you’re going.
4. Ignore street signs and landmarks.
5. Use a compass instead of a map.
6. Ask the locals. It beats consulting guidebooks any day when it comes to finding a cool music venue, a kitschy café or a pick-up soccer game.
7. Get on the metro or a bus and ride it till the end of the line. Get out and explore where you are.
8. Pick a neighbourhood you want to see before leaving the hotel. Then try to find it without using any navigational resources.
9. Get on a rooftop with a good view of the city. Look far off into the distance and pick out a building, park or anything else appealing. Go downstairs and try to make your way over there.
10. When you’re ready to be found, just ask for directions. People are almost always more willing to help than you expect them to be.
Some of the greatest travel stories come from getting lost, or losing yourself, in a new place We want to read these stories. Tell us how you lost your way and why it was worth it using the hashtag #gettinglost on Twitter, or tell us your tale by commenting on Facebook. We’ll publish the best responses in an upcoming Travelwise column.
Travelwise is a BBC Travel column that goes behind the travel stories to answer common questions, satisfy uncommon curiosities and uncover some of the mystery surrounding travel. If you have a burning travel question, contact Travelwise.