One of my favorite travel hacks of all time involves intentionally allowing for the possibility of getting lost while you travel.
Yes, I am serious.
Get lost. On purpose.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you know, by know, that I travel for work. Almost every week I am in a different city or state.
And while business travelers are often incredibly focused on making their travel more efficient (which is why, btw, my 101 business travel hacks have been so popular!) the approach I am sharing here kinda takes things in a different direction.
And one that’s totally awesome (usually…).
In my article the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Business Travelers I suggest that travelers intentionally explore their destinations (this is Habit 5). You might even go so far as to call this “slow business travel.”
By the way, while I am talking quite a bit about business travel here, the concepts I am espousing apply pretty equally to leisure traveling, vacation traveling, etc. I often employ these techniques with my family while we are on vacation and the results are fun. So keep reading, even if you don’t travel for work.
Slow Business Travel
Here’s what I mean by intentionally explore your destination. As business travelers we often get lulled into thinking it’s all about A to B. How fast can I get from where I am to where I am going.
Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely value and necessity in moving fast. Maybe it’s to catch a few more zzzz or to make a flight that you are now running behind for because the meeting took a little longer than expected.
I am not suggesting that we business travelers lose that focus on efficiency.
But, I AM suggesting you slow down every once in a while.
You never know when you might be in Minot, ND again, right? Might as well see something while you are there.
You might be interested in my article “The Best Things to do in Salem Oregon“
There’s a new trend afoot among travelers in general to use something called Slow Travel.
Sarah Schlichter, of SmarterTravel, defines slow travel as:
“Slow travel is not so much a particular mode of transportation as it is a mindset. Rather than attempting to squeeze as many sights or cities as possible into each trip, the slow traveler takes the time to explore each destination thoroughly and to experience the local culture”
For business travelers this can get a little dicey because we don’t really want to spend any extra time on the road than we have to. Typically, we want to get back home to our families as fast as possible. Nor do we really truly have the ability to live out the full ethos of slow travel – there just isn’t time or money.
But, business travel also has down times, periods that lull, time driving in a car say, or time waiting for the flight which leaves in 4 hours. And you usually are done working at some point and if you if are you like me you just head back to hotel all to often and watch TV. You get the picture.
There ARE windows of time by which the savvy business traveler, the curious business traveler, the traveler who wants to see and experience this great world, can slot in some of these things.
You can find time, if you want to, and usually in smaller increments to actually see and experience some of the places you are visiting for work.
You can slow down a bit, and experience some of what’s there.
This brings me to my favorite travel hack.
Favorite Travel Hack: Don’t use your GPS…and get lost!
One technique I employ regularly while traveling for work is to simply not use the GPS on my phone.
I am old enough to remember a pre-Google Maps / Waze universe (but too old to remember how to use the old Thomas Guides my grandfather had! haha). When you actually had to figure out how to drive to where you were going.
Not to get too “stay off my lawn-y / back in my day” here, but today we often don’t really know where we are at, or how we are getting there. We blindly rely on our phone’s GPS and mapping apps to take us to some address we’ve punched in.
However, with my travel hack of not using my phone’s GPS from time to time, I have to do a little research ahead of time (which is fun and helps me learn the area I am visiting) and it often takes me on an interesting journey.
And when I don’t do the research and maybe just have a super general idea of where I am heading, or think my navigational skills and common sense will get me there, it gets even more interesting.
Especially when I get lost.
Let me give you a recent example.
I’d never been to Grand Rapids, MI before, but got the chance to make the trip courtesy of a trade show being held there. After I picked up my rental car from the airport I thought I knew where downtown was generally at. So, instead of using my phone’s GPS I took a run at getting there on my own.
Turns out I was disoriented and DID NOT know where I was going and ended up getting lost. But along the way, I found a quaint little coffee shop (see pic below) with a friendly staff and really good coffee.
I ultimately found my destination, but not after a few twists and turns. But it was so worth it. While on this same trip I randomly found several interesting breweries in Grand Rapids, which as it turns out, has a GREAT beer scene. So great that I wrote about in my post The Top 5 Grand Rapids Breweries – the beer scene is strong!
I’ve done this many other times as well. In Oregon I took the long way back from Eugene, OR to the Portland Airport (PDX). It was a drive up the coast. I knew there were a few arteries that connected Interstate 5 (the main highway) to the coastal routes and randomly grabbed what I thought was one that would connect me.
I then proceeded on a magical scenic tree-lined drive down through the Willamette Valley, along a rushing river that emptied into the Yaquina Bay and the quaint town of Newport, OR.
It was logging season and the logs were rolling from the river into the bay, the mist coming off the bay was breathtaking. And if you know anything about Oregon, they kinda know how to do the whole “visual” thing. It was a sight to behold.
And I never would have seen it if I’d followed my phone’s direction which said take Interstate 5 North for an hour or so.
Not using our GPS to get around while we are on business travel is the travel hack we all need, but didn’t realize it.
So, go ahead, get lost.
Downsides to this travel hack
The upsides to employing this fun travel hack outweigh, in my opinion, the downsides, but in the interest of full disclosure there are a few downsides and caveats.
Downsides & Caveats
- You actually need the time to do this sort of stuff. If you are truly rushed for time, you can’t go gallivanting off every time.
- You might actually get lost, lost. Probably not, but I suppose it could happen.
- You might end up somewhere unsafe. Always keep your wits about you, but if you get lost in the wrong part of town at the wrong part of the day, it might make your trip even MORE interesting.
- Be careful with your company expenses. The extra time could mean it costs your company more (e.g. extra miles on your rental car might mean you have pay a little more and you want to be careful with that).
What say you!?
Agree/Disagree? Is this travel hack something you can behind? How about employing it on your next trip? I hope you do, and you share your story with us!
By the way, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might be interested in these great articles:
- 147 Business Travel Tips – the ultimate list of road warrior tips & tricks
- How to get over jet lag while you travel – 11 Tips every traveler needs to know
- The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business
- 11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know