Don’t forget a map

A ┬ámap…the real old-fashioned kind…made of paper and a nightmare to fold, don’t forget to keep one or more in your car when you’re traveling. The past fifteen years, we’ve relied on technology for directions when driving. First, a Garmin GPS device, then the wonderful human voice of an OnStar operator, but mostly using Google Maps on a cell phone. All of these devices have served us well, and in fact, I sometimes wonder how I ever got around without the use of technology and GPS.

Paper maps are not obsolete.
Paper maps are not obsolete.

During this time, maps and atlases have been discarded. Who needs maps or worse yet, books of maps, cluttering the car?

While I don’t advocate using traditional paper maps exclusively, I have found good reason to keep a few in the glove compartment of the car. The most obvious reason: lack of cell service. This seems especially important when traveling in the state of Virginia. Sure, cell service is no problem in Richmond or Alexandria, but near the Shenandoah Parkway, in a town called Damascus or even driving in the outskirts of Charlottesville, service is sketchy at best and if you’re relying exclusively on technology, you may be disappointed. (Of course, this is also a problem in the Ocala National Forest.)

Every state's visitor center gives away free maps.
Every state’s visitor center gives away free maps.

Maps also make it possible for you to see the “big picture”. A screen of less than 5″ is sufficient for most phone uses, but sometimes you need to see more than five inches of the map, and even when using zoom features looking at a route hundreds of miles away is not satisfactory on the phone.

And if you aren’t interested in the shortest route from Point A to Point B, but instead would like to make detours along the way, having a map to guide you in plotting a route including covered bridges, or lighthouses, or springs or tacky tourist traps. This can best be accomplished by finding the destinations on the map and then adding to your device. Sure, I know you can just Google addresses and add to the GPS, but without knowing a little about unfamiliar places, I could have made the route from Maine to Vermont twice as long by adding the locations of covered bridges in an illogical manner or including ones far from the most direct path.

Of course, I won’t even mention something like a dead battery on a cell phone because I know you would never leave without a fully charged phone or at least a charger that could be used in the car to power your techy map.

A pencil pouch like those carried by students make a perfect place to store maps.
A pencil pouch like those carried by students make a perfect place to store maps.

I admit to being totally addicted to Google maps, even for getting to new places close to home, but I’ve got a well organized stash of road maps tucked away in the car for use when traveling. So next time you take to the road, don’t forget a map.



Remember, maps are FREE with your AAA membership. Take advantage of this benefit.