The Old-School GPS Method: How to Optimize Your Map!

Have you ever found yourself wandering around a city, looking for a particular place, yet have no idea where it is or how to get there?

Maybe you’re searching for a particular restaurant or a little shop and you just don’t know where it could be??

Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Plenty of times. And sometimes I’ve even dragged others along for the fun. :)


Now don’t get me wrong: aimless wandering in a new (or familiar) place can be AWESOME! Going out with no itinerary and just discovering can lead to amazing adventures—I’m all for it.

This is more when you do have an itinerary and would like to find certain places. :)


Now as young and hip as I am (I can still get jiggy with it ;), there’s one place I’m a bit outdated: my cell phone. It doesn’t have GPS, it doesn’t have email, it doesn’t even have—gasp!—Angry Birds. (btw: I’ve played it, and I’m not hooked. What am I missing?)

So here’s an old-school method I use to literally carry my itinerary in my back pocket!

(kinda cracked me up, saying “I just go to town” in reference to writing everything down, while talking about maps—ha! :)


Mark Up Your Map!

Grab a copy from the city you’re in (even be a free, simple map works) and mark down where all the places you want to check out are.

Identify all the fun spots, like:

  • Restaurants
  • Museums
  • Concerts
  • Parks

The other great part about this method is that when you’re out and have some free time, you can consult your map and see if there’s anything on your list that’s nearby and you can check out!


If you’re out and don’t have access to the internet:

Send a text to Google at 46645!

Shoot them a message with the name of your destination and the city—if there are any listings, Google will text you back the full address listing and phone number!


Ask the locals!

Pop into a store or stop someone on the street and see if someone has heard of where you’re going, or the streets you need to find.

**Locals Caveat: if someone gives you a recommendation and they are “pretty sure” where it is (perhaps even marking it on your map), I encourage you (later) to confirm the exact location with Google so that you don’t find yourself on someone else’s wild-goose chase!


Another tip: if you can (if your map has space), write down the exact street address (at least the number and name) of each location—even if you have to do it in another space on the map. This way, when you’re out, if you know the restaurant you’re going to is on the 1100 block, and you’re at 700 on the right street, you have a rough idea of how far you need to go. Plus, the street adress will often identify where you enter, in case it’s unclear.




What do you use to keep your itinerary in your back pocket, and to get to where you want to?

I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.


Looking forward to learning more!




Former life: actor/office worker/virtual assistant; lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Since then: sold nearly everything, took a $5 flight to Hawaii, lived there for 3 months, wrote an eGuide about all of it, and still traveling. Currently: digital nomad - looking to improve myself, have fun and serve others.