YOU’RE DRIV­ING ME CRAZY

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - WELCOME TIANMEN MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, CHINA -

Map read­ing. These two words might have you smil­ing smugly while re­call­ing the day you nav­i­gated your way through one of the most pop­u­lous cities in the world with noth­ing but a keen sense of di­rec­tion, for­eign lan­guage street direc­tory bal­anced against the steer­ing wheel of a man­ual rental car.

Other read­ers might be slowly chok­ing on your gra­nola, anx­i­ety ris­ing, as a mash-up of mem­o­ries hurls you along Euro­pean au­to­bahns, into the grid­lock of Bangkok, criss­cross­ing LA’s great free­ways, and into the tight laneways of Flo­rence.

You ei­ther have the skill of nav­i­gat­ing or you haven’t. Or you’re the driver or the pas­sen­ger. The pas­sen­ger has the un­en­vi­able task of read­ing the map but an­tic­i­pat­ing the de­mands of the per­son be­hind the wheel. The driver can’t un­der­stand why the map reader is not say­ing any­thing – is it be­cause they’re lost? Or why they’re not sud­denly flu­ent in the lo­cal lan­guage and/or road rules and un­able to quickly process where to turn left or which exit to take.

To both par­ties, I have two words: Google Maps. And two more: global roam­ing. It’d be nice to think one could go on an over­seas hol­i­day and leave the phone be­hind or just use it when free Wi-Fi was avail­able. But tech detox­ing is not all it’s cracked up to be, and I can’t rec­om­mend enough adding this to your mo­bile plan for your next trip.

I have a $10-a-day-plan with my provider which gives me lim­ited Wi-Fi and di­rect di­alling for the du­ra­tion of my trip. I couldn’t travel with­out it.

An­other ad­van­tage of Google Maps: for­go­ing a mas­sive pa­per map in favour of your phone makes you ap­pear less like a tourist. And we’re all keen on that.

JANA FRAWLEY, NA­TIONAL TRAVEL EDI­TOR

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