The Case for Analog Travel Directions

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  08.27.10 | 1:44 PM ET

Giving directions is an art form, one we’re losing in the age of GPS and Google Maps. Renée Loth makes the argument:

In this season of vacation travel, I would like to issue a plea for a return to analog directions. This isn’t just a matter of technophobia. Writing good directions is not unlike poetry: an exercise in awareness, requiring an eye for detail and succinct but evocative language. It’s a delight to read something like “Travel over the old stone bridge—built in 1764!—until you see the brick library and Odd Fellows Hall on your right. Turn right there and go down the hill to the water.” Isn’t that so much better than “Head NW on S Main St/MA 1A N .5 miles toward Market Street,” or some similar digital version?

If you care enough and pay attention, you can learn a lot about people by the way they give directions. Are they nostalgic, mentioning phantom buildings or parks that were razed decades earlier? Are they crabbed and secretive, refusing to let you in on the shortcut? Landmarks give meaning to our surroundings, and everyone will emphasize a different place. One woman’s salt marsh is another man’s soccer field.

2 Comments for The Case for Analog Travel Directions

Travel asia 08.28.10 | 1:02 AM ET

Of course, Traveling is the only profession by which we can know the behavior of an individual which in turn give us a statistical view for that particular place.

Darrin 09.08.10 | 5:43 PM ET

I prefer quirky analog directions too, but when the given “landmarks” end up being all traffic lights and McDonald’s, I’ll take the robo-drone instead.

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