Get on the Road with Maps, not Apps

August 15th, 2014

road trip map car

I had forgotten about maps.

I’m not talking about the lovely little app on the iPhone or the fantastic online service provided by Google. I’m talking about actual maps. Like the kind that is printed on paper and unfolds to almost actual size.

Remember those?

Upon entering Canada this week I received an automated text message that welcomed me to traveling abroad.

“How nice,” I thought, “My service provider is keeping tabs on me and making sure I know I’ve left U.S. cell service. What a comforting feeling.”

What I should have thought was, “Uh oh. I’m about to take out a second mortgage to pay for receiving an email.”

As it turns out, AT&T likes to charge roughly $1,333 per megabyte once a phone leaves the country. I only figured that out once I received another text, then an email, informing me that my firstborn son is about to be confiscated for the privilege of getting online.

Needless to say I switched to Airplane Mode on my phone and haven’t been online since, with the exception of the occasional spotty free wifi connection.

I didn’t panic without my phone at first. In fact, I thought it would be nice to be away from the addiction for a while. Except an addiction isn’t an addiction when it’s a requirement.

Without even thinking I reached for my phone to plug a destination into my maps, and then panicked. How am I supposed to know where to go without my GPS?

Then my wife said, “Looks like we need a map.”

I’d forgotten about maps.

At the next town we purchased a road map, got our bearings and planned the rest of our trip by looking at highway routes and asking directions.

The map, fully unfolded and flapping in the breeze as my wife tried to hold it still, reminded me of childhood road trips with my parents. It also got me thinking of technology and how we’ve gotten so dependent on it that we’ve forgotten how to survive when it’s not available.

Our phones have built-in maps, our cars have nav systems, and we rarely get lost anymore.

I’ll tell you what—it’s kind of fun to look at a map and analyze routes and wonder which lines are roads and which are streams.

I highly recommend taking a weekend, fueling up your car, grabbing your spouse or a friend, getting a map, turning off your phone and hitting the road for an unforgettable adventure somewhere new.

Do you still use road maps?

-tgriffith

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