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8 Ways To Avoid Getting Lost

8 Ways To Avoid Getting Lost

When I think about getting lost, two particular instances stand out in my mind. One was when I was in my late teens and I drove out to a forest in the middle of nowhere with a group of friends. It was daytime, sunny, and perfect for a picnic. We found a lovely spot deep in the forest and enjoyed a selection of tasty food. Soon dusk arrived and it got a little cooler, so we built a fire. We stayed so long that complete darkness fell and the fire died down. We were cold and tired and ready to go home. Except… which way was that again?

We looked around us and all we could see were the trees directly in front of us. One of my friends has one of those mini torches on his key-ring, but that was about as useful as wearing flip flops in the snow. Just to clarify, this was also before every man, woman, child and baby owned a mobile phone, so if we wanted to find our way out of that forest, we had to find use more traditional methods. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified.

Somehow, we managed to find our way out of there and I cannot begin to describe the relief I felt when we saw the car parked up on the roadside. It had taken us well over an hour to find our way out of that creepy black forest and it was a situation I never wanted to repeat.

Fast forward several years and we come to a more recent experience. I used to have a satnav, but when I got a smart phone I wondered why I bothered carrying several electronic devices when my phone was able to do everything. So I tapped in the address of my friend’s house, a friend I had never visited before. To be fair, I did know most of the way to her house, I was just a little unsure of the last few miles of the journey. I plonked my phone on the non-slip mat on my dashboard, turned up my tunes and set off.

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It was a beautiful day and the sun was hot on my face. Unfortunately, it was a little too warm for my phone, but I didn’t realise that until I got closer to the destination and needed that little extra guidance. I looked at my phone, expecting to see a map and an arrow but to my horror there was just a black screen with an error message reading ‘Temperature Too High’ or something like that. I pulled the car over to a safe place and pressed all buttons, but nothing happened. My phone had overheated in the sun.

Now not only was I unable to see the directions, I couldn’t phone my friend either in order to ask how to get there. I had been so reliant on my phone that I didn’t have her number written anywhere else and I couldn’t even remember the name of the street she lived on! I felt so stupid for putting my entire trust in this minicomputer that was now just bits of overheated plastic, metal and glass.

In the end, I had to wait until the phone had cooled down before I could start again on my journey.

I expect you have had experiences of getting hopelessly lost too, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking at my eight fantastic ways to avoid it! In an attempt to prevent others from experiencing the sheer panic that washes over you when you realise you’re lost and/or stuck, I have put together some tips and tricks on how to get yourself back on the right path – literally!

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1. Recognise the landmarks

I now make a point of paying particular attention to things that catch my eye when I’m out and about somewhere unfamiliar. You can either use your memory, a small notebook, or if you’re confident of the battery life of your camera or mobile phone, you can take pictures of where you have left your car and then several landmarks along the way. You can note down street names, pubs that you pass, memorable places such as cemeteries, churches, schools etc. It’s much easier to find your way if someone gives you directions such as “Keep going straight on until you see the giant doughnut on the left, and when you see that take the next right and look out for the pub covered in hanging baskets, when you see that, turn left.”

Getting directions like “Drive for half a mile, turn right and in a quarter of a mile turn left” can be confusing, so try to give people directions using landmarks too! They will thank you for it.

2. Follow the people

If you’re in a city and you’re not familiar with the language, you can follow the general flow of the people to find the most popular parts of town. Especially during rush hour. Using this method, you’re most likely to follow people to the train station or bus terminal and from there you will be able to get public transport to wherever you’re trying to get. Terminals and stations also often have an information desk which will hopefully have information in several languages.

3. Look at the roads

Find the biggest road you can if you’re lost. The wider the road, the more traffic it is designed to carry, which means it is a main route. Follow the road and you will find yourself in a town centre before you know it or you will see road signs along the way which should point you in the right direction.

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4. Learn to use a compass

You can either carry an actual compass, or if you have a smart phone, you can use a compass app. Learn to use the compass in places that you know well to get to grips with directions. You will notice that satellite dishes on houses all point towards south-west and churches and gravestones usually face east. When you arrive in an unfamiliar place, take a note of which direction you are facing. Keep checking your compass to see which direction you’re walking or driving. If you get lost, you will be able to go back in the opposite direction until you find familiar surroundings again.

5. Use nature

If it is night and the sky is clear, the North Star is always helpful in giving you a sense of which direction you are heading in. If you checked your position when you arrived, you will be able to use the North Star to tell you which way to go back.

If it is daylight, you can push a stick into the ground and mark the end of its shadow. Wait a little while and you will see the shadow move. The direction the shadow has moved in will be east to west. This should give you some idea which way to go if you are in the middle of nowhere.

6. Read maps

It seems like an obvious point, but take a map with you whenever you travel to somewhere new or make use of the map app on your smart phone. Actual physical maps are ideal to have in your pocket, especially if you find yourself in an area where you don’t have any signal.

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Study the map before you leave for your new destination so that you can get familiar with place names, landmarks such as big parks or lakes as well as train stations, rivers and visitor attractions. Have an idea of where you want to go and look at it on the map in relation to where you will be staying or parking. Once you’re there, the street names will feel familiar to you and you’ll have a good idea of where to go and how to get there.

7. Grab a GPS to go

Also known as a Global Positioning System or satnav, when you have a good connection to a satellite these pieces of kit are invaluable for someone who does a lot of travelling to strange places. You can use it whilst driving as it will sit on a special mount on your windscreen, or you can carry it when you’re on foot. You can even get a wristwatch with built in GPS  so you can easily find your way in unfamiliar territory.

8. Learn the basics

If you’re going to a foreign country, make sure you learn some simple phrases to ask for directions, and make sure you will be able to understand the answer. Also learn words that appear often on road or street signs so that you make sense of your surroundings once you arrive. If you’re really struggling with the language, go to or call a nearby hotel as they almost always have someone who can speak English and they will be able to help you.

Featured photo credit: Jessica via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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