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Don’t Get Lost – Hone Your Navigational Skills

Tips - 17 December 2019

Before Global Positioning System (GPS) devices were available publicly in the 1980s, drivers had to depend on paper-based maps and their own sense of direction. While fold out maps and map books were readily available for every province and major city of the country, an excellent sense of direction was often not, and many of us found ourselves circumventing the same streets over and over in a bid to find an address. In short, we often ended up getting lost.

GPS devices are arguably one of the most useful car accessories today – especially for those of us with little sense of direction. However, they are not foolproof, and despite their raison d'être are still sometimes known for getting drivers lost! The danger of total reliance is when your tech runs out of power and you can’t charge it up again, or it breaks down and you’re in the middle of the unknown. How do you navigate your way out?

Studies show that the more we rely on technology, the more those parts of our brain deteriorate which we would otherwise be using. So, whether you prefer to be in control and self-reliant, or just want to keep your brain firing, you can work on building a better sense of direction.

Arrow sign on road by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

4 Tips to Develop a Sense of Direction

Your sense of direction helps orient yourself in physical space and is the ability to connect things you see around you and your location in your environment. Some people seem to be born with in-built GPS systems but if you’re like most people, the good news is that this skill can be improved. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Landmarks – Wherever you are, try registering a visible landmark or two as a point of reference, such as a mountain, ocean, river, or tower. This helps you orientate yourself in relation to the landmark.
  2. Form a mental map – Study a map of the area you’re in and take note as to where the major roads are in relation to the features such as parks, buildings, or dams. Walk around with the map and familiarise yourself with it and the area in the beginning, but put it away every so often and see if you can rely on your own mental map.
  3. Observe – As you drive with the use of a paper map or GPS, don’t blindly follow the directions, but observe the landmarks you pass and each turn you make. The same goes for if you’re a passenger in the car.
  4. The Sun – We know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so make a mental note before you set off to your destination and observe where it is at different times of the day.

A sense of direction is about paying attention to certain visual cues that orient you to your surroundings. Once you start noticing and observing your surroundings more as you drive and rely less on blindly taking instructions from your GPS app, you may find that your navigational skills may start to improve. You never know how handy it may come in one day! 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.

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