If you are under the age of 30, the odds are pretty high that you have never actually driven anywhere using a paper road map. If this describes you, or you just want to refresh your skills, you should take advantage of Read a Road Map day on April 5th.
If you’ve never navigated using a paper map before, here are a few things you need to consider.
- The index (usually printed on the back of the map) lists all the cities on that map in alphabetical order and then tells you the corresponding grid location of the city. The map likely has numbers or letters listed across one side and the opposite listed across the top or bottom, for example, a city might be listed as C3 in the index. Look for the letter C and move across to the third column to find the city.
- Another important part of a map is the legend. This small box will show how different types of roadways are depicted on the map. For example, major highways are usually printed in bigger, bolder lines than smaller residential or rural roads.
- Use the compass road to help keep you oriented in the right direction. If you are heading south, turn the map to follow in the same direction.
When navigating using a paper map, it’s best to have at least two people in the car, one to drive and one to be the navigator. The navigator should keep his or her eye out for major landmarks listed on the map to make sure they are travelling in the right direction.
To really put your road map skills to the test, you should plan a road trip. It doesn’t have to be long—just a day trip somewhere. To make it really exciting, you should lay out your paper map on the ground and then toss a small rock onto the map. You should make wherever it lands your destination.
Do you consider yourself a good navigator while using a road map?