One of the things I do before a trip to a new city is to print out a map of the city center. Like on paper. The old fashioned way.
Google can help you find a good “tourist map of [city name]“, or if you have a travel guide with a good map you can photocopy that. For London I actually did this with a map of the Underground, so I knew which stops to use for where I wanted to go.
The map will probably already have the big landmarks called out on it, so I get out a red pen and mark these other things on it:
- The place where I’m staying
- The nearest subway station/bus stop to where I’m staying
- Places to get really good hot chocolate (I always Google “best hot chocolate in [city name]” before a trip.)
- Outdoor markets that look interesting
- Food places that friends have recommended
- Nerd places, like Forbidden Planet in London
Then I put this map in my day pack or purse and keep it with me at all times. If I have a free afternoon I might plot a course that takes me to these places, or if I’m headed to a big attraction I can easily see what’s nearby that I also want to check out.
I usually also carry around a small guide book and sometimes download free travel apps, because I like to have options. But the bonus of my paper map method is that if my phone dies or I’ve lost my tour guide or I’ve forgotten the name of the sixth hostel I’ve stayed at in two weeks, all I have to do is pull out the map and sort out where I am.
But what if you have very specific map needs? Like you need to know where all the best food trucks are? Well Mashable has a list of 19 Fascinating Maps. Some are fantasy (what would a high-speed rail system across the United States look like?), but others are super useful.
There’s Tetsudo Now, a real-time map of Tokyo’s public transit that can help you figure out when your train will arrive. Instahood maps people’s Instagram photos so that you can see what’s going on in the area around you. And then there’s the updated map of the London Underground that’s geographically accurate, so you can get a real idea of how far apart stations are.
Have a look at all the maps on Mashable.