The gentleman strolled past me, as I entered the Sky Train Siam station in Bangkok, Thailand. In his left hand he clutched a detailed city map, a free overview city map and the transit system map. In his right, was the Bangkok Lonely Planet guidebook. His face was an expression of panic.
Nothing screamed louder than lost tourist! I have a problem with looking so obvious!
There are some advantages! You may meet interesting and well travelled locals who understand and sympathise. Others will pretend they cannot see you, fearing a long complicated interaction over obscure streets. And you become a target for possible trouble from people seeking “victims” whether scam or rob.
- I try to look like I know where I am going – even when I am not
- Learn where the no-go zones in the area you are visiting, when you check in at your accommodation
- Save your maps on your phone so that you can look at them offline or online
- Look at maps at the start of the day before setting out
- I tear out relevant pages from any guidebook (saves weight too)
- I avoid opening maps in public- pop into a hotel lobby, a shop or hide in a lavatory!
- Ask for help from shopkeepers, police, transit staff and taxi drivers
- I allow myself to get lost -its actually okay- the opportunities for stumbling on discoveries are well worth it