For many, travelling to a foreign country is exciting, but getting lost while there is not part of that excitement. You'd think after reading all those guidebooks that you'd have a good idea of where you were going, but here you are, lost, with little to no cell phone service and little knowledge of the language. At this point, it's natural to start to feel a little overwhelmed.
But don't sweat it. If you're lost in a foreign country just follow these simple tips to finding your way back to civilization.
1. Don't panic
A tip that is usually easier said than done, but it will help you think more clearly. Plus you don't want to look like a tourist, in case you are in a country that is notorious for pickpockets. The only thing worse than being lost is being lost and getting your wallet stolen.
2. Find a store for directions
Avoid asking for directions on the street. You want to find someone who knows the area well – and who knows the town better than the people who work there? Use your hotel or a popular street as a point of reference for them. If they are struggling to understand you, don't be afraid to get a little animated and use gestures, or even draw where you want to go. On the same note, be sure to write those directions down!
If you're having trouble communicating with store owners, try to find a police officer. They will be able to point you in the right direction or find someone who can help you find your way.
Look for other people with maps, or even tour groups with a guide.
3. Keep your eyes peeled for other tourists
If you still haven't found your way, look for other people with maps, or even tour groups with a guide. A fellow tourist is usually happy to lend a hand to another traveller, as will a tour guide. If you don't see any obvious signs that they are tourists, look for people who are taking in the scenery or taking a lot of pictures – locals are used to their town, so they're less likely to do this.
4. Look at your pictures
If you're a tourist, you've probably been taking a lot of pictures of your adventures. Use those pictures as your bread crumb trail to help you get back to your destination. Once you start matching pictures to the landmarks themselves, you'll feel a lot better.
5. Jump in a cab
If there is a cab nearby, get it! They'll be able to take you back to your hotel, or at least to a place that you're more familiar with. Plus, cabbies will be used to out-of-town accents, so even if they don't quite understand you, they'll at least understand you're looking for a hotel!
Be proactive about avoiding getting lost
If you want to avoid getting lost in the first place, be proactive about it! Write down the name, address and phone number of the place you are staying in. If you are afraid of losing cell service, write out your directions, or take screenshots of a Google Map.
Additionally, see if you can download Google Translate. If you think you'll have a tough time with the language, go in prepared. This translate app can be used offline once you've downloaded it to your phone, so you don't even have to rely on internet connection to communicate with locals.
Start your trip off on the right foot – don't get lost in Melbourne Airport's parking lot. Instead, just drop your car off with us here at Pacific Airport Parking. We'll park your car for you as you get the shuttle directly to your terminal.