Getting Lost While Traveling – Enjoy Losing Your Way

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Getting lost while traveling is a given for me. I am directionally challenged. I expect to get lost when I’m traveling but I do not get upset about it.

I’m unable to pinpoint the exact moment when it happened but I have been possessed by the wanderlust for many years. I believe the seed may have been planted when my mom would gather us five kids in the car when she had errands to run. Occasionally she would get a little lost and exclaim “looks like we’re on another unguided tour!” She always seemed so upbeat about it so I didn’t mind being lost. I thought it was all rather exciting, we were on an adventure! We always found our way eventually.

Owing to the fact that getting lost does not bother me I do seem to get there with some regularity. Directionally challenged, anyone? Yes but I am pretty good at finding my way back, eventually, to where I planned on being before I got lost.


Getting lost while traveling? Watch for landmarks

Not that I am terribly good at reading a map or anything.  I look for landmarks, gauge my direction via the sun, and I often rely on the kindness of strangers. People are incredibly helpful even if, or rather, especially if there is a huge language barrier. If I have a map or guidebook I can at least point to the place I am looking for. It is a great opportunity to test out one’s foreign language skills.


Getting lost while traveling - enjoy losing your way while exploring the medina in Marrakech Morocco - spices on display near Jemaa el-Fnaa square

Spices on display in Marrakech Morocco – near Jemaa el-Fnaa square


When I traveled alone to Marrakech Morocco I stayed at the Riad Massine II in a residential area of the old walled city – the medina. It was complicated to find the place through all the winding narrow walkways. Fortunately there was  trick to remembering the way – the light posts along the buildings all pointed in the direction I needed to turn to get to my riad. Someone even made a video of the route on youtube – Way to Riad Massine II.

I did not always remember to watch for the light posts but I always found my way. The locals would giggle at me when I turned the wrong way and I would smile and remember to look for the light posts once again.

When I’m visiting a new city and I inevitably find myself  getting lost I will usually just roll with it and wander around the area for a while to discover a part of the city that I otherwise would have missed. I do prefer to get lost while walking as opposed to driving or taking a bus/metro. Walking a city is the very best way to see it and experience the vibe.

You won’t feed all your senses while driving around in a car or bus. You can’t fully appreciate the smells and sounds like you can while walking about. You can’t run your hand over that amazing textured surface from an automobile. I find it is more personal and enjoyable to walk.



Calgary cityscape as viewed from within the sculpture Wonderland by Jaume Plensa, quote from Ray Bradbury - Half the fun of travel is the esthetic of lostness

Half the fun of travel is the esthetic of lostness – Ray Bradbury


Lost while traveling? Reward yourself with food :)

One can work up a healthy appetite whilst on an unguided tour. Take note of the eating establishments along the way, you may discover a favorite new restaurant. Or try some local street food. I look for a vendor with lots of customers. Not keen on dining solo – read my post about dining alone for more tips. If you are truly feeding your senses you are in fact obligated to complete the tour with a culinary experience.

To this day I never mind getting lost while traveling. I always think looks like I’m on another unguided tour!

Do you freak out when you get lost while traveling? Or do you enjoy losing your way every once in a while?

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

12 Replies

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  1. ellen b says:

    Love that last one! Reward yourself with food…Yes! Great tips.

  2. Hildred says:

    I do admire your confidence, Susan – I am gradually learning to do things on my own, but after 68 years of marriage it is definitely a new experience!

  3. I never much worried about getting lost, as long as I wasn’t under some deadline, or felt unsafe.


  4. Diane Westwell says:

    A most enjoyable read again Susan thank you,
    We got lost in an Oasis near The Atlas Mountains. our guide who was an absolute prat who drove like a maniac would latch on to people at meal times expecting to have his food paid for, so we decided to do a detour to lose him. We did manage to retrace our steps when we recognised the funny little man who would scramble up a banana tree to retrieve a banana then try to charge you about 4 dollars for the pleasure!
    We did eventually find the guide who was, by then enjoying some other poor unsuspecting tourist’s hospitality!
    That was a holiday in Tunisia, not a country I would visit again.
    Overall we enjoyed the sights, riding into the desert on camels to see the sunset and so on…I never wish to see stewed goat and cous cous ever again…That was all the hotel seemed capable of serving!

    best wishes,

    • Di, sorry to hear you had such a bad experience in Tunisia. A terrible guide and unimaginative offerings at the dinner table – not exactly the type of memorable experiences one envisions!

      I haven’t visited Tunisia yet – just Morocco but I would like to go back and explore more of the region. i would love to spend some time on the coast as well as the desert – haven’t been on a camel for several years now :)


  5. Charly says:

    I can’t find my way out of a paper bag! I use to get really anxious about being lost but now I tend just go with it and it seems to work out at the end of the day.

    Nice read!

    • Thanks Charly! It’s good to know there are other people that get lost as often as I do!
      It’s a lot less stressful if you can just roll with it and keep an optimistic approach.

      Happy travels!

  6. Sammi Wanderlustin' says:

    I really enjoy getting lost whilst travelling. I tend to recognise street names pretty easily so find my way back where I came from just fine. The only time I don’t like being lost is when I’ve got my heavy backpack on me! Ugh, I just want to dump it in my hostel and THEN get lost ;)

    • Sammi I agree, getting lost while carrying all that gear is no fun! I have done that several times whilst trying to find my way to my accommodations. Someone always helps me though.


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