Knowing how to read a map used to be considered an important skill for life.

This was something boys and girls learned in scouting, or later in life when in military training. Too many people these days have no idea about how to read a map. Strangely, the invention of the smart phone, GPS and navigation maps, has once again brought map reading back as an important skill. Here are some map reading tips for travelers and tourists.

map_readingMap Reading Tips for Coming and Going
When a traveler goes far from home they do certain things to get ready. Unless the trip they are taking has been made before locating a proper map is important. The map to be selected needs to be the right scale. It should have neither too little detail, nor too much detail.

For the trip to the traveler’s destination the map should be a size that is easy to use. when held in the hand the map section in use should cover at least four hours of travel by automobile. A map of this size will still show the city of departure until the day is half over. A traveler’s map should have major highways clearly marked with specific items.

The map must have a scale that indicates, at a glance, the distance between points. The map should have an index listing major cities and points that are important to a traveler. The traveler can look up the location he is interested to find. Once located there will be an alphanumeric code. This can be used to move vertically and horizontally on the map, easily locating the location in question. Some highway maps also have major hotels and restaurants included in the index. The map should also have at least a north pointing indicator. This is an important aid if the traveler loses their way or feels lost. The compass indicator can help point the traveler back in the right direction. Some traveler’s maps have been marked by auto clubs to show the desired route. This can be very helpful to a traveler who is both driving a car, and using the map.

Destination and Activity Map Reading Tips
While at the travelers destination a much different map is needed. What is still required is the ability to read a map. In fact if the traveler is going to do some trekking, the ability to properly read a map can be a life saving skill. Destination maps for use in a city will highlight major attractions of that city. On a destination map the index is even more important than the highway travelers map index. Destination maps also include a north pointing indicator. They may also have important emergency numbers for use when needed.

When a traveler uses a map to go out of the city a compass is suggested to help guide the way. A compass can be a vital direction and survival tool that combined with a good map can both guide and protect. Map reading skills with maps for outdoor treks, include contours and elevations. These are very important things to know and understand. A person in the desert, or mountains and forests can essentially see what is in front of them, without physically being in a particular spot.

These basic map reading tips should help any traveler know how to use their maps in a basic manner. The more you use maps, the easier they become to use. Practice in your own city before heading out on your trip. Get used to map reading to find new locations. This will prepare you for use of a map in an unfamiliar city.