As a solo female traveler, it is so important to NOT get lost while traveling. Its just a recipe for disaster. After trial and error, I’ve developed a strategy that has helped me avoid getting lost during my travels. This is going to be one of my most important blog posts for my solo female (and male) traveler readers.
Here is my strategy to NEVER get lost while traveling.
Google maps is a Godsend. Seriously- I can’t imagine solo traveling without it! If you are traveling internationally, you may not have cell service or connection might by bad. Good news- you can still utilize the Google Maps app without service. If you open maps, your GPS will still be able to track where you are and what direction you are moving towards.
Here is how I take full advantage of Google Maps while traveling-Saving Locations:
STAR YOUR ACCOMMODATION
This is SO IMPORTANT, especially if you will have bad cell connection. By star-ing the place you are staying, you will be able to see where you are in reference to the accommodation. Thus, you can easily make your way back by pointing the little arrow towards the hotel.
When you open the Google Maps application, search the address of your accommodation. Tap on the accommodation, and you will see a star symbol labeled “Save”. Tap the star to star the accommodation!
STAR all of the sights you want to see
Find all of your bucket list items easily by also star-ing them on google maps. This is also great because it ensures that you won’t miss or forget any of your must-see places. Again, just point your phone towards the direction of the starred place, and start walking towards it.
Download the destination as an “offline” area
A common trick for travelers: download your destination to Google Maps as an “offline” area. Meaning, you will not need to be connected to use google maps in a given area. Do this while you are connected to WiFi.
Read this article by Wired on How to Use Google Maps Offline.
Research How to Get to Your Accommodation Upon Arrival
I cannot stress this enough! There has been times where I didn’t think to research the different transportation methods to get from the airport/train/bus station to my accommodation. This left me completely lost and confused once I arrived. You can always pick up a taxi, but taxis from the airport to the city center are usually super expensive. Research the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to get to your accommodation upon arrival.
PHYSICALLY Write Down The Address of Your Accommodation
Again, I think this is crucial, unless you memorize the address. The best way to avoid getting lost while traveling is remembering or writing down your base address. You can’t always rely on your phone, that is just a recipe for disaster. Phones can die, and get lost or stolen. Physically write down the name and address of your accommodation, and put it somewhere safe in your travel bag. That way, if you get lost, you can get a taxi and have the address to give the driver.
Carry a Portable Charger
My #1 tech travel essential is by far a portable phone charger. Since I’m always on my phone for google maps and taking pictures, it tends to die before I get back to my accommodation. My phone died on me in Girona, Spain, and I had a really hard time finding my way back to the train station. Had I had a portable charger, I wouldn’t have spent over an hour wandering around the city, looking for the damn station.
Get a Taxi
If you find yourself totally lost, or in an area that gives you bad vibes, just get a taxi. Even if you know that you aren’t far from where you are trying to get to, its better safe than sorry to hail a cab. Most touristy cities will be filled with cabs, so just go up to a main street and hail one. Don’t worry about forking over a few extra bucks- safety should be your number 1 priority.
If you can’t find a taxi, go inside a hotel or hostel and ask for them to call a cab. I did this when I got lost in Mallorca, Spain- I couldn’t, for the life of me, find the taxi stops. I went into a random hotel, asked for them to call a cab, and that was that.
Set aside some extra money that is meant for a taxi. If you end up not needing one during your trip, use it on a nice souvenir!
Some cities are known as having taxi scams. If you want to learn how to avoid taxi scams abroad, check out this article!
ASK FOR HELP
While it may seem obvious, tons of travelers do NOT ask for help if they are lost. When everything fails, this is the best thing you can do. Nobody knows the area like a local, so if you are lost and overwhelmed, go up to a local and ask for help. I usually go into a store or a hotel to ask for help.
Back to the Girona example, I finally found the train station after going into a pharmacy and asking the pharmacist for directions. Turns out, I was super close, I was just walking in the wrong direction.
This is also where learning a few phrases in the native language comes in handy.
The pharmacist didn’t speak English. Luckily, I speak some Spanish, and was able to tell her about my situation and follow her directions to the train station.
This brings me to my next point…
Learn Some Key Phrases in The Local Language
Like the pharmacist in Girona, not everyone you encounter will speak English if it is not the native language of the country you are in. Here are some key phrases and words I recommend learning before you embark upon your journey:
- Where is the _______ (hotel, airport, bus stop, train station, main street, etc.)
- Can you call me a taxi?
- Left, Right
- Thank you
Have you ever gotten lost while traveling? How did you deal with it? Share your stories and advice in the comments!