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Travel Advice - Know how to use travel maps

On a trip to Germany, while traveling with some friends, I had hoped to avoid navigator duty and catch a few winks in the back. As we pulled away from the Stuttgart airport, the temperature was over ninety and the humidity as high as an anesthetized wombat. Whoever had reserved the car had, unfortunately, arranged for one without air conditioning, so sleeping was going to be a challenge.

Well, at least we had good maps, knew where we were going, and had plenty of time to get there for a dinner with some friends. Or so I thought.


Our navigator, a bright, bushy tailed, B-school kind of guy, insisted that he was up to the task of navigating. Listening to the conversation between him and the driver did not fill me with confidence. Listening to their questions to each other about the road signs raised my concern that days might not be long enough to drive the 150 miles we needed to cover before dinner. But, I was tired and nodded off for a few minutes (well, maybe thirty or so).

When I woke, I was sweaty, cranky and jet lagged (another one of those “overnight frights” (flights) from the US). I looked at the road signs, scanned the environment, and decided that we were headed to Poland rather than towards the Netherlands.  I asked for the map, compared it to the signs and said “Let’s get off at the next exit and turn around, we’re going the wrong way”.

“Do you really think so?” was the reply. Our navigator asked for the map back and assured me that we were going the right way. I left him alone for a minute or two and said, “Turn the car around before we enter Russia”. Good thing the driver believed me because our destination, in the Netherlands, was on the other side of Germany.

So, how did I know I was right? Follow the instructions in our article!

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