Having a bad sense of direction


I have a very bad sense of direction, which is very inconvenient because my job involves being all over the place. Usually, if I don’t know where something is, I make sure to go there before my work with them actually starts, so I know how to get there and how long it takes. Otherwise I would have to leave home about two hours early on the first day, to allow for being lost.

I cannot function with a map, and I cannot function with directions like the ones above in the picture, or the ‘go left then right and after about 100 m turn left at the second traffic lights’ type.

How I do it is by landmarks. If people just say to me ‘head towards the big blue building and it is near there’ then I can find my way. Luckily there is always something unique nearby – an unusual or big tree, a particular shop, a striking or large building, a church. Or people can just point in the general direction and I go that way.

Obviously I cannot use Google maps and I don’t use gps but I do find street view very helpful. If I can see a photo of the street, then I can orient myself.

I have a friend who works with maps only. He needs a map to find his way anywhere. We went on a cruise together in Greece a few years ago and he got confused with his map but I was able to reorient us back to the ship after a day trip because of a big hotel that I noticed near the harbour when we arrived. Other times we have travelled I have always just relied on him and his map!

I am also (unlike many men) not afraid to ask for directions!

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts

  1. This is a constant conversation in my house. I, too, am a “landmark navigator”, where my wonderful husband can look at a map once and know exactly where to go and how to get there. He is so linear that he cannot understand how I CAN’T function that way, and I’m so abstract that a map will reduce me to tears. It’s always a challenge when we’re in the car together trying to reach a destination for the first time.

  2. Sadly I have a very natural sense of direction I can navigate quite well without a map or technology! But I do tend to use Google Street View to know what places look like before going there.

  3. I can go by with the explicit “turn right at next corner, left at next stop light, etc” but not with landmarks or directions (north, west, etc) if I’m going to someplace I’ve never been before. If I’ve been somewhere at least once, I can start navigate with landmarks (but still not directions!). 😛

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